Minority Press

Casey Introduces Bill to Provide Financial Relief to Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Due to Opioid Crisis

More than 100,000 children in PA are being raised by grandparents or other relatives


To continue combatting the devastating effects of the opioid crisis on families, U.S. Senator Bob Casey recently introduced a bill to help ease the financial burden of grandparents and other relatives who are raising children. The Grandfamilies Act builds on the success of legislation that was signed into law last year to help grandparents easily find the resources they need. The Grandfamilies Act is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“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.”

“It’s often grandparents and other family members who step in to care for kids when their parents can’t,” said Senator Brown. “Many of these older Ohioans never expected to be doing that full-time again and face unique challenges when taking on these roles unexpectedly. The grandchildren they’re caring for are dealing with the trauma of having a parent suffering from addiction, or having tragically lost a parent, while grandparents and other family members face their own health challenges as they grow older. This legislation takes a much needed step toward getting these grandparents and family members the support they need to care for their families.”

“This effort is especially personal to me as I was raised by my maternal grandparents. I know the challenges that family caregivers face, so I’m working to provide much-needed resources and assistance to family caregivers, including grandparents who step up to care for grandchildren,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation will support grandfamilies and break down barriers that make it difficult for grandparents and other relative caregivers to access the support they need.”

"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." 

“Grandparents are increasingly taking on the role of primary caregivers for their grandchildren, something we are seeing in New Hampshire largely as a result of the fentanyl and opioid epidemic,” said Senator Hassan. “We must ensure that these grandparents have the resources they need to provide the necessary care to their grandchildren. By providing grandfamilies with greater access to resources like Social Security children benefits and more streamlined supports and services, this legislation is vital to those efforts.”

The Grandfamilies Act would help provide grandparents with additional resources to care for their families’ needs. The legislation would 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 services in grandfamily housing.

In July 2018, The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act became law. The new law creates a one-stop-shop of resources to help grandparents raising grandchildren address the challenges they may face, 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. In Pennsylvania, more than 100,000 children are being raised by grandparents or other relatives, and experts say this number is rising as the opioid epidemic devastates communities.

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.

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