The opioid crisis continues to rage in Pennsylvania. While the addicts are the most physically affected by the horrific disease of addiction, they are not its only victims. Children of addicts are also adversely affected by the loss of their parents, either to overdose or the parents’ inability to care for them while dealing with their addiction. Grandparents are acting as caregivers in greater numbers every year. Grandparents’ rights have subsequently become a major issue.
Pennsylvania is making moves to improve the situation for grandfamilies, as they have come to be called. Grandparents do not typically expect to find themselves in the position of primary caregiver to their grandchildren. The opioid crisis has changed that, however. In an effort to assist with the situation, the state has passed two laws intended to help grandparents who find themselves caring for young children.
Act 88 provides for grandparents, or other relatives, to have custody of grandchildren while parents are in treatment. Act 89 provides a service that helps grandparents, or other relatives providing care, to understand their rights and be aware of services that are available to help. According to an estimate by Pennsylvania’s House Children and Youth Committee, the state saves approximately $1 billion per year in foster care expenses when grandparents care for children over placing the children in foster care.
It is widely accepted that it is often in the best interest of the child to be with family members. In terms of the addiction crisis, the addict can better focus on recovery knowing that his or her child is safe. However, taking on the burden of raising a child can be emotionally and financially stressful in Pennsylvania. An experienced family law attorney may be able to help one navigate grandparents’ rights that are now in effect and others that may come about as the state continues to address this issue.