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Grandparents are struggling to raise grandchildren on their own.
The opioid crisis is driving up the population of "kinship caregivers" in record numbers. As overdose totals rise, grandparents and other relative caregivers are stepping in to raise the children of addicted parents. Unlike foster care, "kinship care" has unique requirements that are often not recognized in a child welfare system that was designed to support non-relative foster parents. As grandparents struggle to raise children on their own, they often don't realize that there are support options available until they are told by a kinship navigator or other social service coordinator. Kinship navigators fill the void created by the lack of a dedicated social services organization for kinship families. As navigators, they help inform and connect kinship caregivers to the patchwork of various programs, grants, and other services (legal, financial, health) that they are eligible to receive. Often, however, grandparents are unaware of their existence and seek other ways to support themselves -- sometimes by attending therapy groups with other relative caregivers that are raising children of the opioid epidemic. In New York State, a Relative As Parents Program support group gathers once a month to swap stories and share advice.
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