US Senate Passes Bill that Helps Grandparents With Child Custody
San Diego, CA – Just recently, the many grandparents across the United States who have committed to child custody of their grandkids or are otherwise caring for them full time–had a real victory. On March 22, 2018, Senate passed a bill for the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act. Hundreds of thousands of grandparents have been asking and lobbying for some government recognition of this issue for support for the last ten years, when the opioid epidemic really erupted.
The necessity of support for grandparents and grandparents’ rights
Approximately 2.6 million children in this country are being raised by their grandparents–many of them because their parent(s) are addicted to heroin or have died/been incarcerated from the use thereof. Many of these grandparents have been pulled from retirement to provide and care for these abandoned and abused children. They are financially strained, struggle with deteriorating health, and are often not familiar with the legal side of this issue or the resources which may be available to them.
The bill for this act could be an important step in recognizing the great need within this population for good legal support and community resource availability.
Challenges faced by grandparents
With the death rate of overdose from opioid substances rising by 200 percent from 2000 to 2014, tens of thousands more children are entering foster care. For every child that will be matched with a foster family they do not know, 20 will be fostered or adopted by relatives, especially grandparents.
However, the foster care system is not easy to navigate for these grandparents as its primary aim and hope is to reunify parents and children eventually. That makes it hard for grandparents to adopt them. It is also quite expensive to pay for adoption and there is a long waiting period, no matter if the adoption of the child is done by family or not. This is a problem that needs to be rectified, since grandparents can help these traumatized children reintegrate into normal life without quite as much psychological disruption. Not only that, but relatives raising abandoned children save the United States over 4 billion dollars yearly.
Grandparents need good legal counsel to explore their custody possibilities. They can seek temporary custody, if there is hope for the parent(s) of getting off drugs and eventually reuniting with their children. There is also longer-term custody with visitation schedules for the parents, or, in some cases, full adoption. All of these have financial and social implications that will need to be planned for.
In general, grandparents taking on the role of parents again so late in life need legal counsel as well as financial and social. Financially, they must be able to find a way to hold onto some of their retirement savings or generate more money in order to live comfortable once the child comes to the age of majority. Socially, they need resources/groups to help them cope with the very stressful situation that many of their peers cannot relate to.
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