Proposed bill supports grandparents raising grandchildren

Proposed bill supports grandparents raising grandchildren

OHIO (WTOL) - There's new effort to support grandparents who are suddenly raising children again.

It's another result of the opioid crisis.

"If you're just a parent with a toddler, you know how difficult that is to care for them. Just imagine being a grandparent that has raised their children and now they're raising grandchildren," said Director of Lucas County Children Services, Robin Reese.

Reese said that the physical and financial demands are challenging for grandparents, who don't have the access to the same kind of funding as foster parents. 

She said that there are about 4,000 kids in Lucas County in the care of a grandparent and nearly 100,000 in Ohio.

"There are some studies that say when you place kids outside the family, it sometimes impacts three generations, so it makes sense to place with grandparents," said Reese.

The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act was signed by President Donald Trump on Monday.

Senator Sherrod Brown is a co-sponsor.

Brown said that it's a starting point for gathering information to provide a one stop shop for grandparents in need of resources.

Brown's office said that a task force will work with local agencies to find best practices and ways to streamline and fix broken systems. 

Many of these grandparents unexpectedly find themselves in juvenile court in heartbreaking custody disputes with their own children.

Judge Connie Zemmelman thinks this bill is a step in the right direction.

Judge Zemmelman said that creating a one stop shop for resources would be helpful, but also financial support.

"Creating new resources for grandparents. You know, foster parents receive stipends. The grandparents don't receive the same amount. Maybe they need to," said Zemmelman.

Reese agreed, and said that the next step needs to be funding attached to new efforts to attack the problem.

"Ohio is fiftieth in the nation for what they contribute to child protection. Double it. Still fiftieth," she said.

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