Do You Know Someone's "Other Mother"?

Help us recognize those who step up to care for children in need

By The Editors

Across the country, millions of grandparents, aunts, and other adults have taken responsibility for raising children with absent parents. These loving individuals, often referred to as "Other Mothers," play a crucial role in sheltering kids from the dangers of an unsupervised childhood, like drugs, criminality, exploitation, and homelessness.

Now our partners at SOS Children's Villages are paying tribute to these heroic women. The international organization knows their work well: Every year, more than 5,000 loving women in 132 countries provide warm, stable homes and long-term emotional support to orphaned and abandoned children by being SOS Mothers and Aunties in 500 SOS Children's Villages. These "Other Mothers" are carefully selected and receive two years of professional child-care training before running their own households within SOS Children's Villages.

Grandparents Who Take Responsibility

Closer to home, Americans, too, rely on "Other Mothers" to raise children not their own. The greatest portion of these "Other Mothers" are grandparents. Some 2.6 million grandparents were primarily responsible for meeting children's needs in 2010, a phenomenon that cuts across race and ethnicity. Of grandparents with grandchildren under their roofs, 51 percent are white, 24 percent African-American, and 19 percent Hispanic. Overall, the numbers are on the rise due to recent hard economic times that have left grandparents as the default provider for many families, although in 2010, one-fifth of grandparents raising their grandchildren lived in poverty themselves.

Most grandparents cherish the presence of grandchildren, but those striving for a secure retirement face tough challenges in taking youngsters in. Still, they do what they have to do, and are rewarded with the abiding love of their grandchildren.

How You Can Help Honor "Other Mothers" Who Deserve Recognition

To celebrate grandparents and others who step up to the plate for kids, SOS Children's Villages-USA is hosting a contest: You can nominate "other mothers" in your life – unsung heroes who might be grandparents, aunts or uncles, foster parents, family friends, or anyone else whose care has filled the gap in the absence of a loving parent. Nominations can take the form of a written story (350 words or less) or a 90-second video.
The grand-prize winner will receive a Marriot Residence Inn getaway. Other prizes include Schwinn bikes, Nook Reader's Tablets, and special Amway baskets. The deadline for nominations is May 22. Get full details here.

Judges for the contest include Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan; Vy Higginsen, founder of Gospel for Teens; author Mike Gottfried; and Chris Caruso, executive director of GenerationOn. Judges will select five written and five video finalists and then the public will select the winners, including the Other Mother of the Year, through an online vote.

"Our greatest wish is for our boys and girls to break the cycle of abuse and neglect and realize their dreams," SOS Children's Village states on its website. "Every time one of our children grows up to be a responsible and successful adult, SOS rejoices. Not only have we provided them with a safe, happy home and helped them heal from their past traumas, we have also given them the hope for a better future."

If you know someone who's providing shelter and support for a child who needs it, nominate them today.

Meet more grandparents making a difference on Grandparents.com:

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