New Federal Law Aims To Help Grandparents Affected By Opioid Epidemic

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KEYSTONE CROSSROADS — President Trump recently signed the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act into law.

The bipartisan measure was co-authored by Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey and is intended to help grandparents affected by the opioid crisis.

Juanita Cox is 67-years-old, and has been raising her four grandchildren ages 14, 12, seven and five since 2012.

She says she had no choice but to take them into her North Philadelphia home.

“My son and kids’ mother were all on drugs,” she says. “She was considered an unfit parent because she left them at home by themselves.”

The new law aims to provide support to grandparents like Cox.

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Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

Sponsored by Casey and Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, it will establish an advisory committee made up of federal agencies to map out available resources for grandparents.

“This is the kind of public health crisis that you may not see in 100 years so there’s an urgency about this issue” Casey says. “All across the state we’re having families devastated from the horrors of this kind of addiction.”

But Jean Hackney, vice president of Grands as Parents, a nonprofit support group based in Philadelphia, says grandparents need more than an advisory committee.

“How many advisory boards do we keep on gettingand nothing comes out of them?” she says.

According to Casey, more than 100,000 children in Pennsylvania are being raised by grandparents and other relatives….a number expected to rise as the opioid epidemic continues.

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