Kinship Care on the Rise in Opioid Crisis

Drug addictions among parents can have devastating consequences for Virginia children. Grandparents across the state are finding themselves back in the parenting role, a situation that can be extremely challenging but often represents the best possible solution for the children involved.

One of the serious consequences of the opioid crisis sweeping the nation is the effect of addiction on children. In many cases, grandparents are stepping in to provide a stable home for young children whose parents are struggling with addiction, PBS reports. Indeed, as of 2015, approximately 2.9 million children were being raised by their grandparents.

When states must step in to protect youths affected by the opioid crisis, the goal is to limit the tremendous negative effects that can occur when a child is removed from his or her family. In many cases, states may turn to grandparents and other relatives who are close to the child for help with adoption and foster care.

The grandparents who step up to the plate when their grandchildren’s parents are struggling with addiction often face significant challenges, such as poverty and disability. This is particularly true when these grandparents are not registered within the foster system or are unwilling to take their own children to court in a custody battle. Legally recognized foster parents receive important government support, but grandparents caring for their grandchildren outside the system may not be eligible.

In addition, the Christian Science Monitor reports that young children who have been affected by parental drug addiction may have learning disabilities or health problems. They also may have difficulty trusting the adults in their lives. Grandparents who return to the parenting role must overcome these barriers in order to lay the strongest possible foundation for their grandchildren.

Grandparent custody nevertheless remains a positive solution for children harmed by the opioid crisis, not least because it keeps these children out of the overburdened foster system. This type of kinship care also increases the chances that these children will succeed in life despite early setbacks.