Ana Beltran


GrAND Voices have been front and center at the nation’s Capitol inspiring law makers to enact reform during an uncertain time. Activity has been frenetic in Washington, with a new Administration, repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and several natural disasters demanding attention. Despite distracted law makers, several committed members of Congress have forged ahead on reforms specifically for grandfamilies, thanks in significant part to a new initiative of Generations United and Casey Family Programs, called GrAND Voices. GrAND Voices are caregiver advocates from around the country who elevate their voices, bringing their personal experience raising relatives, in addition to those they work with, to the attention of lawmakers. GrAND Voices were an integral part of the 5th national GrandRally in Washington, D.C., and have inspired new legislation. They have helped elevate the need for supports and services to grandfamilies in light of the opioid crisis and the increased numbers of children they are raising. The crisis has provided an urgent platform for pursuing reforms such as providing preventative services to grandfamilies and implementing the Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards. Improved foster care data collection and a 2016 federal court case also have implications for those grandfamilies who have child welfare involvement. On the state level, many jurisdictions continue to try to make inroads for grandfamilies by implementing policy changes, such as new guardianship assistance programs. Grandfamilies support is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.