Two-year-old Jayden has lived with his grandparents since the day he came home from the hospital.

His mother was struggling with addictions, so her parents took in the newborn baby and well as his two young siblings.

For years, Sheila and Harvey Field used residential school settlement money to pay the bills.

"Now we're running out of our school money,” says Harvey. “It's getting pretty hard for us to look after them clothing and food. One week of food is $ 300, that's including diapers and wipes and everything.”

The Dene couple in N’dilo, N.W.T. is appealing to the band and the government for more support, so they don’t lose the kids to foster care, where they fear the kids could be mistreated.  

“The only family I got is my grandkids,” Harvey says. “I lost my mom, I lost my dad, I lost my brothers. I got nothing, that's all I got. I don't want to lose them. I really want to look after them, raise them up myself."

Harvey Field and grandson

'I really want to look after them, raise them up myself,' says Harvey Field of his grandchildren. (CBC)

Harvey and Shirley Field have already adopted another one of their grandsons, and hoped to adopt Jayden and his brother and sister, but the legal fees — about $500 — were too much.

The Fields worry if they try to become foster parents, they won't qualify, in part because they now have up to eight people living in a two-bedroom home designed for elders.

“It's only good for two people. This is an elder's home,” Shirley says.

The family would like to build an extension or move into a larger home, but Harvey is on a pension and Shirley is on long-term disability.

'It's not only us'

A 2010 review of the N.W.T. Child and Family Services Act found family members often don't get the support they need.

It recommended the territory do more to ensure kids stay in their homes.

No one from the Health department was available to talk about what, if anything, has changed.

That leaves Harvey frustrated with the fact that, while the system is equipped to pay foster parents to look after his grandkids, he doesn’t qualify for any financial help.

"It's not only us,” Harvey says. “I know there's a lot of other grandparents. It's very unfair.

“At least they should help us financially to look after the kids. Right now, I'm pretty sure we're saving the government a lot of money looking after our four grandchildren."