NEW YORK – The last thing Ida Marriott thought she would do in retirement was raise her teenage granddaughters. But Marriott, like so many other grandparents, spends her days wrestling with subjects such as AIDS, adolescent rebellion and drug and alcohol abuse. She was able to learn how to better cope with these issues at a six-week certificate program at Fordham University. “There is an immense need for this kind of program,” said program director and Fordham University Professor Carole Cox. “Around the country there are 4 million grandparents responsible for raising their grandchildren, and this number is expected to increase. In New York City, 12.4 percent of children are raised by their grandparents. Most of these grandparents never expected to be parents again.” Marriott was one of 11 Hispanic grandmothers who participated in the grandparents empowerment program. Each semester, Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service focuses on an ethnic group of grandparents and the special needs facing members of that community. Grandparents who participate in the program attend six hours of classes a week for six weeks. Classes for the Latino grandparents were taught in Spanish. “In the program I learned about self-esteem issues for teenage girls and about my legal rights as a guardian,” Marriott said. “Self-esteem is important espe-cially for young people because without self-esteem, they are vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse and things of that nature.” Cox said the issues of dealing with grief, HIV/AIDS and self-esteem are con-cerns for grandparents of all ethnic groups and are highlighted throughout the course. This is the second round of grandparents to graduate from the program, which is sponsored by Fordham University and The New York Community Trust. The first graduates of the program were African American.