Grandparents raising grandchildren key focus on fighting the opioid crisis

Grandparents raising grandchildren key focus on fighting the opioid crisis

Author: Stephany Dugan/Thursday, December 13, 2018/Categories: News and Views

In the midst of “Stop Overdoses in Pa.: Get Help Now Week," three heads of Pennsylvania state agencies joined to announce the formation of a new initiative to help combat the opioid crisis, specifically in terms of helping households in which children are being raised by their grandparents.

“It’s all hands on deck,” said Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine, as she stood shoulder to shoulder with Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller and Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne.

According to Osborne, it is estimated that 89,000 Pennsylvania grandfamilies are raising approximately 100,000 children. That number is increasing daily due to the opioid crisis.

“Parenting their children’s children is frequently coming at a time when they are also trying to address their own physical, emotional, medical and financial needs,” said Osborne.

As the head of the state’s Opioid Command Center, Levine described the state’s response to the opioid crisis as a three-pronged approach: prevention, rescue and treatment. The Grandfamilies Workgroup is part of the rescue phase.

It will look like this: a selected group of grandparents raising grandchildren will meet regularly over a six-month period with members of the governor’s administration to identify barriers in the health, human services, education areas, and providing insight as to what additional support may be needed. The Department of Aging will then develop the action steps that need to be taken at the conclusion of all of the meetings.

This is to build on the progress of the administration’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Listening Tour held earlier this year as well as newly enacted laws designed to ease the care giving burdens often placed on grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

As the architect of Act 88 of 2018, which helps grandparents receive temporary guardianship of their grandchildren when the child’s parent or parents cannot take care of them because of substance abuse issues, Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) applauded the administration’s effort in taking another step forward and he is looking forward to the results of the workgroup.

“I’m thrilled that two of the grandparents taking part in the workgroup are two of the three grandparents who came to me years ago when I was first learning of this issue,” said Pashinski.

Stephany Dugan a staff writer for The PLS Reporter. Have a question, comment or tip? Email her at