WYOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) There is a growing trend being seen across the nation and our region. The dynamic between a grandchild and grandparent is changing drastically due to the opioid crisis. Local Lawmakers say there’s growing concern about the lack of support for these families.
new tonight at seven — Eyewitness News Reporter Crystal Cranmore shares some of those concerns — and the new legislation that’s on the table to help.
By a show of hands, about half the grandparents at the Wyoming County Active Adult Center are raising their grandchildren.
“Sometimes there is incarceration, sometimes there is early death. But for the most part it is the opioid crisis,” said Representative Karen Boback. Representative Boback says a growing number of grandparents need more support and held this event to generate ideas for legislation.
Geri Mikelski’s son got addicted to opioids and hasn’t been seen in more than a decade. Mikelski stepped in to raise her now 14 year old grandchild.
She didn’t ask to be born and I love her. Honestly, I don’t see any other choice.” She told Eyewitness News
Her granddaughter has epilepsy and autism. Just trying to get medical care before Mikelski legally adopted her grandchild was difficult. Eventually, they were able to get medical assistance because of the child’s disability.
“Other grandparents – their grandchildren may not be disabled and they have to pay for all of that out of pocket” noted Mikelski.
Kitty Terbush, who is taking care of her grandson due to the opioid crisis, says there are also geographical barriers.
((take sot)) kitty terbush, taking care of grandson “If I thought it would be better for him to move where my son lives or where my other son lives and get help from them ” Kitty told Eyewitness News.
She can’t because of the boy’s parents legal rights. These concerns have to lead to federal legislation. The President signed into law the supporting grandparents raising grandchildren act this month. It will create a one-stop shop of resources for those families.
“When the grandparents are successful, the grandchildren are successful and they thrive,” said Teresa Osborne, PA Secretary of Aging.
Pennsylvania has similar legislation, referred to as the Kinship Caregiver Navigator bill. It passed the house and now sits in the Senate.