Nearly 2.7 million children are being raised by grandparents, other relatives or close family friends and not their own parents, and some members of Congress want to prevent child abuse by giving these caregivers more help.
It would come in the form of the Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act, a bipartisan measure that was introduced this week in the House and the Senate.
The bill would help ensure these kinship families — the majority of them headed by grandparents — can obtain services under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. The additional support includes helping these families meet the distinctive needs of children who have experienced trauma, including being exposed to substance abuse by their parents. Children who have been among people abusing drugs and alcohol are especially prone to abuse, according to the sponsors.
The bill also calls for specialized training to help the kinship caregivers cut through the inevitable red tape involved in receiving the help. The government would help spread the word about the best practices for caring for these children.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) of Maine and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) of New Hampshire introduced the measure in the U.S. Senate, while Democrat Mary Scanlon and Republican Glenn Thompson, both representing Pennsylvania, filed it in the House.