WASHINGTON, D.C. — July 11, 2018 — On Monday, July 9, President Trump signed into law The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, first introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in May 2017.
The Senators, who serve as Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, introduced the legislation following their committee’s hearing on the struggles of grandparents raising grandchildren because of the opioid crisis. Congressional offices have credited Generations United’s 2016 State of Grandfamilies report, Raising the Children of the Opioid Epidemic, as a key inspiration for the hearing. Our Deputy Executive Director Jaia Peterson Lent and GrAND Voice member, Bette Hoxie, were among those who testified.
“Generations United applauds Sens. Collins and Casey for their leadership championing the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, which is an important step toward supporting the approximately 2.6 million grandparents raising their grandchildren across the country,” said Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. “This law will provide critical direction to better coordinate federal programs that support grandfamilies to help children thrive.”
The new law will establish a Federal Advisory Council to support grandparents and other relatives raising children. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be the lead agency coordinating the work of the council. Its charge is to identify, promote, coordinate and disseminate information about resources and best practices to help relative caregivers meet the health, educational, nutritional and other needs of the children in their care as well as maintain their own physical and mental health and emotional well-being.
The council will also develop a process so the public can provide comments and recommendations. To document its progress, the council will issue a report to Congress in the first six months and again in two years on best practices, resources and other information for grandfamilies — as well as gaps in services to meet the families’ needs.
Generations United worked with Congressional leaders to give input and feedback on the bill as it moved through the legislative process and was successful at ensuring that the final version required that Council membership include a grandparent caregiver. Our national GrAND Voices Network, which includes relative caregivers in 42 states and 12 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, has reinforced the power and importance of hearing from the caregivers themselves.
Federal employees representing various agencies and departments whose work impacts grandfamilies will comprise the other members of the council. This includes agencies like Administration for Community Living, Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mental Health and Substance Use.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), introduced the companion bill in the House. The Act received support from approximately 40 leading older adult and child advocacy groups*.
About Generations United: For nearly 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. www.gu.org
*Those groups include AARP, American Academy of Pediatrics and Generations United.