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Senators Collins, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Grandfamilies Affected by the Fentanyl Crisis and Substance Misuse

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) reintroduced the Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act to better support kinship caregivers – the vast majority of whom are grandparents – who have taken over as primary caregivers for children exposed to substance misuse or other trauma. The bipartisan bill would encourage state and local child welfare agencies to work with the National Technical Assistance Center on Grandfamilies and Kinship Families.

“As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate families across Maine, grandparents increasingly are being called on to become the primary caregivers of their grandchildren. Although this caretaker role can be a source of tremendous comfort and stability for families, it also presents several challenges,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan bill would provide grandparents access to important resources they need to help their grandchildren succeed.”

“Families in New Hampshire and across the country have been devastated by the fentanyl crisis,” said Senator Hassan. “As a result, grandparents often step up and play a large role in caring for their grandchildren while a parent is dealing with addiction. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill that helps grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren.” 

Specifically, the Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act would:

  1. Help to ensure that grandfamilies and all kinship families are eligible for services under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
  2. Provide additional support to these families to meet the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma, including being exposed to substance misuse. 
  3. Call for specialized training to help kinship caregivers navigate the complicated supports and services they may be eligible for.
  4. Coordinate with the National Technical Assistance Center on Grandfamilies and Kinship Families to disseminate information on best practices used to support children being raised in kinship families within, or outside of, the child welfare system.

Senator Collins introduced the original bipartisan Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored and was signed into law in 2018. In 2020, the Government Accountability Office released a report Senator Collins requested on ways to enhance support for grandparents and other relative caregivers.

A one pager of the bill can be read here.