The last few years have seen increased media attention on the heroic and vital role of grandparents, other relatives, and family friends in raising and supporting our nation’s children. Several recent crises, including the opioid epidemic and children being separated from their parents at the Southern border, have caused journalists to see and acknowledge the essential role of grandparents and other relatives in stepping forward when parents cannot raise their children. This positive coverage is seen and heard by our nation’s lawmakers. More than ever, they are interested in learning about grandfamilies, their strengths and needs and how they can better support them. GrAND Voices, the national network of grandparent and other relative caregiver advocates, have resonated throughout the halls of Congress with two new laws to help prevent children from entering foster care and to support relatives and parents caring for them. Both the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First Act) and the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, enacted in 2018, will make more services and supports available to grandfamilies. Pending legislation, introduced in spring 2019, will further support grandfamilies by making long-needed policy reforms, and will address challenges and other gaps in Family First Act implementation. In addition to federal activity, state lawmakers are also striving to better support the families. Legal options, such as standby guardian laws and educational and health care consent, can only be created at the state-level. State legislators are responding to constituent needs by passing new laws so that relative caregivers can access necessary services on behalf of children they raise. Although much still remains to be done to support grandfamilies around the country, progress is happening in greater strides than ever. GrAND Voices and those of us who work with them are determined to continue the momentum to truly support all grandfamilies whether inside or outside the child welfare system.
(2019). Supporting Grandfamilies: Federal and State Policy Reforms. GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 5 (2).
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/grandfamilies/vol5/iss2/4