Scanlon, Thompson Take Action to Support Kinship Caregivers

Mary Gay Scanlon
Jan 10 · 3 min read

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA) introduced the Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act, a bipartisan bill to better support kinship caregivers who have taken over responsibility as primary caregivers for children exposed to substance abuse and trauma.

Due to the opioid epidemic, an increased number of grandparents are taking on the role as primary caregiver for their grandchildren. This bipartisan legislation would help address the unique challenges that grandfamilies and kinship caregivers face. This bill will ensure that these families are eligible for services under Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and provide support to meet the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma, including exposure to substance misuse.

“Countless families in our region and across the country have been impacted by the opioid epidemic,” Rep. Scanlon said. “The effects of this public health crisis extend beyond the person suffering from substance use disorder — this impacts the entire family, especially children. Over 2 million children across the US, and nearly 100,000 in Pennsylvania, are currently being raised by their grandparent(s), other relatives, or close family friends. As we work to combat this epidemic and support those suffering, we must do all we can to address the unique challenges kinship caregivers face. I am grateful to my Pennsylvania colleague, Rep. Thompson, for co-leading this legislation as we work together to support families and children in need.”

“All children deserve a loving and safe home. Sadly, due to the nation’s growing opioid crisis, more and more children are being left without structure, without safety, and in some cases, without parents,” Rep. Thompson said. “The Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act will provide resources to assist grandparents in raising their grandchildren and most importantly, help prevent these children from entering the foster care system.”

“Supporting those who have taken on the role of caregivers in cases where substance use disorder affects their family is a Pennsylvania issue, not a partisan issue,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “Last year I signed two bills into law providing ways to better navigate the system of supports and services and helping families care for their family members affected by substance use disorder with fewer barriers to resources. I thank Rep. Scanlon and Rep. Thompson for their support of grandfamilies with this important legislation.”

The Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act would:

  • Ensure that grandfamilies and kinship caregivers are eligible for services under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
  • Provide additional support to these families to meet the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma, including being exposed to substance misuse.
  • Call for specialized training to help kinship caregivers navigate the complicated supports and services they may be eligible for.

This legislation was also introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate and has received support from Generations United.

A copy of the bill is available here.

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