As more and more families across the nation face the problems of addiction that are part and parcel of the opioid epidemic, more Pennsylvania grandparents are raising their grandchildren. WPXI reports that a hearing was held in Harrisburg to address the issues many grandparents are facing to keep their grandchildren safe while also dealing with their children, the parents, who are addicts. While most of these grandparents willingly step in to help, many do not have the financial means to be paying to raise children again, and they did not save for a retirement that included raising their grandchildren. There is no money set aside to help these families who are not using the foster system, and future expenses like college are a real concern as well.
This is a problem across the country, and the Daily Item reports that Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey has co-sponsored legislation that would form a task force to help grandparents who are raising their grandchildren due to opioid addiction. The bill being introduced in the U.S. Senate would help grandparents get back to a primary parent role, by helping them find mental health services for the children, deal with figuring out the school systems and getting social service benefits.
While two in every five children in the foster care system were removed from the home due to their parent’s substance abuse issues, reports state that there are 20 children being raised by relatives for each child who is in foster care. So there is a large population of children being raised by people who did not place to care for them, and for grandparents that means many are using their retirement savings to make ends meet. Grandparents raising children outside the foster care system are said to be saving the government $39 billion a year.