While Congressional gridlock continues to block the passage of legislation, one bipartisan bill gets thumbs up from both the GOP-controlled Congress and the Democrats. Just days ago, the final Senate passages of the S,1091, Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law. U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Peter King (R-NY) introduced companion legislation in the House.
Millions of Grandparents are Raising Their Grandchildren
According to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, approximately 2.6 million children are being raised by their grandparents or other relatives and experts say this number is rising as the opioid epidemic devastates communities across the country. Senate Special Committee on Aging Charmain Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced S. 1091 in their chamber in May 2017 after an Aging Committee hearing during which witnesses testified about the need for grandparents to have easy access to information about resources available to assist them.
“Throughout history, grandparents have stepped in to provide safe and secure homes to their grandchildren, replacing traumatic pasts with loving and hopeful futures. With so many parents struggling with addiction, grandparents are increasingly coming to the rescue and assuming this role. It is essential that we do all that we can to help these families,”said Sen. Collins. “Our legislation will help ensure that grandparents who have taken on this caretaker role have access to the resources they need. I am delighted that our bill received unanimous support in the Senate, and I look forward to it becoming law.”
Adds Sen. Casey, “Grandparents are increasingly stepping in to raise their grandchildren due to the opioid crisis. These grandparents are faced with challenges such as delaying retirement, navigating school systems, bridging the generational gap, working through the court system to secure custody and finding mental health resources.” said Senator Casey. “ Once the bill is signed into law, the Administration is charged with convening the advisory council so that grandparents throughout the nation will be able to access the needed resources and support they need to raise their grandchildren, says the Senator.
Grandparents Need Information and Assistance
In a statement, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy Leamond praised Congress for passing the bipartisan legislation that will benefit more than 2.6 million grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. This bill creates a federal advisory council that will serve as a much-needed centralized source of information and resources for grandparents.
LeaMond says,“The number of grandparents raising their grandchildren will only continue to grow as our nation struggles with an ongoing opioid epidemic. These grandparents need information and assistance on issues dealing with legal custody, available social services, mental health counseling, and other vital programs.”
“The federal advisory council will identify, promote, and disseminate information about this vital support and the resources available to help grandparents create and maintain a stable home environment for their grandchildren so that they can thrive,” adds LeaMond.
The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act has received support from 40 older adult and child advocacy groups including AARP, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Generations United.