According to the office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), 100,000 children in the commonwealth are raised by their grandparents. This is due in part to drug addiction, which can leave some parents unable to take care of their kids.
Casey wants to create a collection of information and resources for grandparents in this position, and hosted a roundtable discussion in Pittsburgh Monday to talk about his bill, the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act.
The measure would form a federal task force with members from different departments, including the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. The team would have one year to create a collection of resources specifically targeted at this demographic, potentially spanning from healthcare to information on how to legally adopt their grandchildren.
"We need a one-stop-shop resource, that the federal government should provide, so that these families have information that's readily available to them when they're taking on the burden of raising their grandchildren," Casey said.
Ann Sinsheimer, of Oakland, and her husband are raising two of their granddaughters, ages 6 and 9, because their mother has an opioid addiction. She said one of the most difficult things has been finding adequate mental health resources for the girls.
"Their parents have not died, but they're being ripped from their home pretty suddenly, and then we learned the trauma that they went through in their home," Sinsheimer said. "And so parsing that out and thinking about how they're going to flourish in the future is a little daunting."
Simsheimer said she and her husband are fortunate because they have healthcare and a home large enough to support the two children. However, she knows there are many grandparents in her situation that do not have those resources.
Casey's bill was passed by the Senate earlier this year, and awaits action in the U.S House.