Collateral Damage of the Opioid Crisis: Grandparents raising Grandchildren – What They Need and How to Help
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In July 2018 the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act” was passed with the intention of helping identify, promote, coordinate and disseminate information about resources and best practices to help relative caregivers meet the needs of children removed from the custody of their parents.
That summer Christine Stankik, PhD., Senior Researcher at Altarum, began in-depth data collection on 20 Michigan grandmothers raising grandchildren and surveyed 1,015 grandparents nationwide using informal questionnaires.
The results included key finding such as:
- Grandfamilies deal with complex mental and behavioral health needs of children who have experienced severe psychological and physical trauma.
- Grandparents must cope with their own grief and emotional distress while parenting grandchildren with complex emotional needs.
- Raising a second family places grandparents in a financially perilous situation and contributes to the number of children and elderly living in poverty.
- Grandparents subvert their own needs to provide support for their grandchildren
Along with some of the following recommendations:
- Enhance the foster care system to better serve kinship caregivers.
- Develop and implement continuing education and mental health interventions at health system points of contact for both grandparents and grandchildren.
- Develop and implement peer support trainings and peer-led programs to meet the unique challenges of grandfamilies.