SAN ANTONIO – The organization S.A. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren is offering legal, financial and health resources to grandparents in Bexar County.
Mercedes Bristol and Delia Martinez have led the organization since it was created back in March 2016.
“I was robbed from being a grandmother,” Bristol said.
Bristol raises her five grandchildren. She took on the role after their parents were declared unfit.
“At the time she was taking pain pills and a lot of other things and not living a stable home. My son had some problems himself,” Bristol said.
She knows how tough it was taking on this new responsibility because at first she didn’t know what programs and resources were out there.
Bristol said the organization continues to grow. The organization now has over 400 grandparents that they work with and they continue hosting different events every month.
Desiree Mata has attended the organization’s support group meetings.
“Once you are put in a situation like that it’s very hard,” Mata said.
Mata says she takes care of two grandchildren.
“My grandchildren’s father died in 2008. My daughter was murdered on June 16, 2016,” Mata said.
Bexar County Children's Court Judge Peter Sakai, listened to these grandparents issues.
“Child Protective Services in trying to protect children they were placing children with families or relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, any adult family members and then ultimately they were closing cases out and providing no structure, discipline, and ultimately no custody orders,” Sakai said.
Sakai said after presenting this to the commissioners court last year, they were able to get money to provide legal services which opened many avenues.
“We have gotten custody order for these grandparents,” Sakai said. “This has opened up access to food stamps, government assistance, basic necessity for children.”
Bristol said she will not stop fighting for grandparents.
“If we need to take buses to Austin, we will do that. We have people now who are willing to help us," she said.
According to a 2016 American Community Survey 1-year estimate from the United States Census Bureau, in San Antonio the number of grandparents responsible for children under 18 years old is 50,734. For more information click here.