Giving Compass’ Take:
• Generations United released a report chronicling how many children grow up in grandfamilies due to a parents’ substance abuse problems exacerbated by the opioid crisis.
• How can philanthropists and local organizations support grandfamilies and foster kids that are struggling because of the opioid crisis? What policy changes need to happen to help protect these children?
• Read more about how the opioid epidemic strains the fragile foster care system.
More than 2.5 million children are raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, other extended family and close family friends who step forward to care for them when parents are unable. Although data is limited, research shows parental substance use is the most common reason these grandfamilies come together to raise children who would otherwise go into foster care.
With the rise in heroin and other opioid use, more relatives are raising children because the parents have died, are incarcerated, are using drugs, are in treatment or are otherwise unable to take care of their children. The vast majority of children being raised by relatives live outside the formal foster care system. Yet the child welfare system relies heavily on relatives, so much so that 29 percent of all children in foster care are living with relatives.
Some key findings:
- For the free 2.5 million children are being raised in grandfamilies or kinship care with no birth parents in the home (3% of all children).
- 29% (120,334) of children in foster care are being raised by relatives.
- For every child in foster care with relatives, there are 20 children being raised by grandparents or other relatives outside of the foster care system.
- The percentage of children in foster care with relatives has increased from 24% in 2008 to 29% in 2014. At the same time, placements in non-relative family foster homes and group settings have decreased.
- More than 1/3 of all children placed in foster care because of parental alcohol or drug use, are placed with relatives.
- More than 40% of children in foster care with relatives in 2014 were removed from their parents’ care because of parental alcohol or drug use, up from 34% in 2008.
Read the full report about children of the opioid epidemic by Generations United at Grantmakers in Aging,
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