Federal ‘Grandparents Raising Grandchildren’ Bill Signed into Law

Jul 19, 2018

U.S. Senate Aging Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA) applauded the signing of the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act (S. 1091), legislation they authored that will create a one-stop-shop of resources to support grandparents raising grandchildren.  U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Peter King (R-NY) introduced companion legislation in the House.

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. Senators Collins and Casey introduced the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act in the Senate 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 Senator Collins. “Our legislation will help ensure that grandparents who have taken on this caretaker role have access to the resources they need.”

“I am pleased that the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act has been signed into law. This law will provide grandparents in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, with easy access to helpful resources,” said Senator Casey. “These grandparents, some of which have stepped in to raise their grandchildren due to the opioid crisis, are faced with unique challenges such as delaying retirement, bridging the generational divide, and working through the court system to secure custody. I look forward to the Administration swiftly convening the advisory council created under this legislation so grandparents can access the supports they need.”

“Generations United applauds Senators Collins and Casey for championing the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, which has now passed the House and the Senate.  This important legislation will result in improving the lives of the 2.6 million grandparents who are raising grandchildren, more and more of whom are being called on because of the opioid crisis,” said Donna Butts, Executive Director of Generations United.  “As a result of the Senators’ compassionate leadership, efforts to support relative caregivers will be better coordinated at the federal level and critical gaps in services will be identified and filled.”

“AARP is proud to support the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act and is pleased to see it signed into law,” said Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer at AARP. “Already, more than 2.6 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren, and that number 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. This law will help to achieve that goal by creating a federal advisory council that will serve as a much-needed centralized source of information and resources for grandparents.”

“As the opioid epidemic continues to contribute to rising numbers of children entering foster care, it is critical to support the relatives who care for them, known as kinship caregivers,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Supporting kinship caregivers helps maintain a child’s connection to family, and is essential to alleviating the trauma children face when they enter foster care as a result of their parents’ substance use disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics thanks Congress for enacting the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, and looks forward to supporting its effective implementation.”

“This legislation will open the doors for the families who are truly taking on a huge burden in Maine who are raising their relatives, particularly grandchildren, at a time when there are still very few resources both emotionally and financially,” said Bette Hoxie, a kinship provider and retired Executive Director of the Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine Inc., and the Kinship Program.  “Opening the door to public awareness nationally as well as in the state of Maine is huge because unless you are providing this unique type of care, it’s hard to imagine what the needs are. Thank you to our own state’s Senator Collins and to Senator Casey for leading this effort.”

“I am thrilled that the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act has been signed into law! The new advisory council will help make it easier for grandparents and other relative caregivers to find important information about resources available to them,” said Dr. Sharon McDaniel, Founder, CEO and President of A Second Chance Inc., located in Pennsylvania. “I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Casey and Collins on this issue and hope that we can all continue to work together to provide much needed help for grandfamilies.”

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.

Watch the archived hearing: Raising Grandchildren in the Opioid Crisis and Beyond.