Today, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) applauded the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s unanimous passage of the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, which would create a federal task force charged with supporting grandparents raising grandchildren as the opioid epidemic increases their numbers. The senators urge swift action on the Senate floor to make this important bill law.
Approximately 2.6 million children are being raised in grandfamilies, and experts say this number is rising as the opioid epidemic devastates communities across the country. Senators Casey and Collins, who are both members of the Senate HELP Committee, introduced the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act last year 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.
“I am pleased that the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act unanimously passed out of the HELP Committee. I co-authored this bill to respond to the needs expressed by families throughout Pennsylvania and across the country who need our help to find resources and supports to raise their grandchildren,” said Senator Casey. “The number of older Americans who are stepping in to care for their grandchildren is on the rise due to the opioid crisis. I urge my Senate colleagues to pass this legislation swiftly so that grandfamilies will know where to go to access the information they need.”
The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act would create a federal task force charged with identifying and disseminating information designed to help grandparents raising grandchildren to navigate the school system, plan for their families’ future, address mental health issues for themselves and their grandchildren, and build social and support networks.
At last year’s hearing, the Senators heard testimony from Dr. Sharon McDaniel, Founder, CEO and President of A Second Chance, Inc., located in Pennsylvania—a state that has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. In Pennsylvania, more than 100,000 children are in the care of their grandparents or other relatives. “I am so elated that the Supporting Grandfamilies Raising Grandchildren Act unanimously passed the HELP Committee! Raising relative children later in life is not easy. Grandparents and other relative caregivers raising these children need information about all the resources available to them and this bill would help make things a little easier. I’d like to thank Senators Casey and Collins for their leadership on this issue and I look forward to their continued efforts to support grandfamilies.”