Press Release

Event to Educate Clark County Region’s Service Providers, Community Leaders, Policymakers on the Critical Role of Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children Because of the Opioid Epidemic

Las Vegas, NV — Oct. 29, 2019 — In light of the opioid crisis, increasing numbers of “grandfamilies,” grandparents,  other relatives and close family friends are raising children because their parents have died, are incarcerated, are using drugs or are otherwise unable to take care of their children.

Generations United and Foster Kinship will deliver the symposium and training event, Helping Children of the Opioid Crisis: Supporting Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children. This session – made possible with support from the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) – will feature presentations from:

  • Families impacted by the opioid crisis
  • Terry Kerns, opioid coordinator for Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford
  • Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick
  • Jaia Lent, deputy executive director of Generations United, a national advocacy organization with expertise on the growing numbers of grandfamilies across the country
  • Ali Caliendo, executive director of Foster Kinship, a local organization that provides supportive services to the families.

“Grandfamilies are our first line of defense for our nation’s children who are impacted by their parent’s opioid use, yet they often have little to no access to supports and services to help them,” said Jaia Peterson Lent, deputy executive director at Generations United. “When children are raised in grandfamilies who receive the support they need, they thrive.”

The symposium will be followed by a training for service providers and is open to child welfare and aging services providers, community-based organizations, juvenile justice, mental health, and substance use treatment providers and others who serve families where grandparents and other relatives are raising children.

“Educating our partners on how to support children raised by relatives is a critical part of addressing the opioid epidemic,” said Ali Caliendo, executive director at Foster Kinship. “We will provide our community with concrete actions that can improve outcomes for grandfamilies.”

“The opioid crisis impacts not only communities in a unique way, but also different generations,” said Candace DeMatteis, Policy Director for RALI. “RALI has focused on education around the impact of this crisis and promoting solutions to help bring an end to it. Working with these grand families is essential in getting to the core of this issue.”

The training will include topics such as strategies to conduct effective outreach to the families, learnings from model practices and programs serving the families, and offer tools and information about technical assistance and other resources.

Nationally, more than 2.6 million children are raised in “grandfamilies,” by grandparents, other extended family members or close family friends without their parents in the home. In Nevada, approximately 33,000 children live in these families.

About Generations United:
For more than three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together. We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged. The National Center on Grandfamilies is a critical part of Generations United’s mission and strives to enact policies and promote programs that support relative caregivers and the children they raise.

About Foster Kinship:
Nationally recognized, Foster Kinship is the only non-profit organization in Nevada exclusively serving kinship children and their families. Foster Kinship provides free programs for kinship caregivers in Nevada: Kinship Navigator Services and Child Welfare Training. Foster Kinship also advocates for all kinship families to receive access to services and improved caregiving options through partnerships and advocacy.  Since its inception, Foster Kinship has proudly served over 6,000 children and 3,000 kinship families across Southern Nevada. In 2019 Foster Kinship expanded services to the entire state.   By helping to “keep home in the family” for vulnerable children, Foster Kinship envisions a safe and healthy childhood for ALL children in kinship care.

About RALI:
The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) is a convening organization of community and advocacy leaders working to address our nation’s opioid crisis. With millions of Americans struggling with opioid addiction, RALI provides a platform to share best practices and bring solutions focused on prevention, treatment, and recovery to impacted communities. The initiative aims to transform today’s disparate and one-dimensional approach into a comprehensive solution that elevates the most effective programs. RALI engages a number of stakeholders, including anti-addiction groups, caregivers, patients, law enforcement, first responders, EMTs, labor unions, employers, health care providers, veterans, and civic organizations, among others. We are committed to helping to implement programs that save lives and prevent the misuse of prescription opioids.