WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate has passed bipartisan legislation in support of grandparents now raising children in light of the opioid epidemic.
The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), passed the Senate by unanimous consent last week.
“Among the victims of the opioid epidemic are the kids whose parents are struggling with addiction or whose parents have been taken far too soon by this public health crisis,” Brown said. “We need to learn more about the challenges facing grandparents and other relatives in Ohio who have stepped up to take their grandkids into their care, so we can support them as they raise these children.”
Grandparents are stepping up into a parenting role increasingly as parents overdose or enter recovery for addiction. In response to this trend, the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act would establish a Federal Task Force to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren to identify, coordinate and share information and resources to help grandparents and other relatives who are stepping up to raise children meet the needs of kids in their care while maintaining their own health and well-being.
The formation of this task force complements last week’s spending bill that was signed into law, which includes funding to ramp up response to the opioid epidemic. The package includes $65 million to fund opioid detection devices and equipment called for in Brown’s INTERDICT Act, which President Trump signed into law earlier this year. The devices will help Customs and Border Agents detect and stop dangerous drugs like fentanyl before they enter the U.S.
Brown also worked to ensure that Ohio will be among the first in line to receive the opioid funding included in the agreement. Brown originally announced $6 billion in opioid funding as part of the long-term spending agreement Congress reached earlier this year. The spending package Congress passed allocates the first $3 billion of that money will be spent. At Brown’s urging, the package specifically prioritizes the hardest-hit states, like Ohio.