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What the Drug Crisis Means for Grandparents

What does the drug crisis mean for grandparents? Many children are placed in households headed by relatives due to the large number of parents who struggle with drug addiction in Tennessee. Nearly 8 million children across the country lived in these non-nuclear households in 2017. Many of those households were headed by grandparents. There is a positive side to the large number of children living with their grandparents, though. When placed with a relative rather than a stranger, it is significantly less disruptive to children’s lives.

Most cases involving a child’s placement outside of their parents’ home filter through the legal system. For a grandparent to obtain legal custody of their grandchildren, they must meet certain conditions. It might take months or even years for these cases to make their way through the court system. Adding to that stress, grandparents often feel caught between caring for their grandkids and maintaining good relationships with their adult children. It’s a hard line to walk. That said, grandparents often have physical custody of these kids well before obtaining court-ordered legal custody.

The problem is, children with drug-addicted parents who go to live with their grandparents are more likely to experience poverty.

This is particularly tragic because they have often already experienced abuse or neglect at some point. That can result in mental or behavioral problems later on. According to a 2013 study (Stambaugh et al), kids who experience at least four traumatic events such as those are twelve times more likely to also experience physical health problems. Unfortunately, many grandparents are on fixed incomes and probably haven’t had to deal with these issues before. So, they are not always equipped to get their grandkids the help they need.

That help typically involves caregiver training, therapy and legal assistance.

But even as many families are eligible for public assistance, less than half of eligible children in these families receive Medicaid (Lent & Otto, 2018). Around half who are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families do not receive assistance from that program, either. Many are unaware of these resources or are unable to access them.

Public assistance can help provide a child’s basic needs and help them find their footing in a stable, loving home. But to make the most of these programs, grandparents may have to show that they have or are obtaining legal custody of their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent seeking custody of your grandkids as a result of the drug crisis, or you feel it may be in your child’s best interest to live with your own parents, give Held Law Firm a call at (865) 685-4780. We are here to advocate for your family in any way we can.

The information in this blog was compiled and written by Faith Held.

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