Bill to support grandparents raising opioid orphans

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) Wednesday announced legislation to help ease the financial burden of grandparents and other family caregivers who are raising children because of the opioid crisis.

The Grandfamilies Act is based on the success of legislation that was signed into law last year to help grandparents easily find the resources they need when raising grandchildren such as navigating the school system, planning for their families’ future, addressing mental health issues for themselves and their grandchildren, and building social and support networks. The Grandfamilies Act is also cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

"As the opioid epidemic continues to tear apart families all over the country, Congress must do everything it can to help protect the children who have been hurt by this crisis," said Senator Gillibrand. "I am proud to cosponsor this bill to help support the hardworking grandparents and family caregivers who have taken on the responsibility of raising grandchildren because of the opioid epidemic. This legislation would help families across New York and around the country manage this crisis, and I urge my colleagues to quickly pass it into law."

“All across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grandparents caring for grandchildren continue to tell me that they need more help,” said Senator Casey. “I believe the federal government needs to do more. This is why I introduced the Grandfamilies Act to help relieve some of the financial burden many grandparents face as they take on the unexpected challenge of parenting a second time around. I will continue to the fight to ensure that grandparents who are doing this selfless work have what they need.”

Specifically, the Grandfamilies Act would do the following:

· increase access to Social Security child’s benefits and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families cash assistance program.

· incentivize states to create temporary guardianship laws for grandparents who need to step in quickly to help a grandchild.

· provide support for housing specifically provided for grandparents raising grandchildren.

The Grandfamilies Act is supported by Generations United, American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund, LeadingAge, National Council on Aging, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and Social Security Works.