Grandparents are usually seen as secondary caregivers of their grandchildren often taking on a supportive role whenever the parent requires assistance. However, there are a number of grandparents who have to take on the role of primary caregiver for their grandchildren due to a variety of circumstances. According to the United States Census Bureau about 1.3 million grandparents who were in the labor force in 2019 were responsible for most of the basic care for grandchildren under the age of 18. In Arizona, there are a growing number of children being cared for by their grandparents due to family members suffering from drug addiction.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than five people die every day from opioid overdoses in the state since there were 2,006 confirmed opioid deaths in 2021. So far in 2022, there are 372 confirmed opioid deaths and 2,069 verified non-fatal opioid overdose events. Both The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, (GOYFF) as well as the Arizona Substance Misuse Prevention Resource, provide lists of resources available to those who either suffer themselves or know a loved one who suffers from a form of drug addiction.
To assist the grandparents in providing adequate care for their grandchildren, Arizona Helping Hands is reaching out to provide resources as well as help them acquire foster licensing to gain additional support as a foster family. Arizona Helping Hands provides essential needs for children in foster care throughout the state such as beds, cribs, linens, clothing, diapers, wipes, educational activities, and personal hygiene kits. So far in 2022 the organization has provided 1,300 beds, served 2,633 children, and helped 1,391 families with back to school preparations.
FOX 10 Phoenix reporting showcased the story of Bridgette Nieves, a grandmother who had to help raise her grandchild after her daughter lost custody by the state due to drug addiction. After getting her license and formally adopting her grandchild, she will have the extra resources available to her from places like Arizona Helping Hands to provide better care.
Nieves said to FOX 10: “It’s very overwhelming at first when you take this on and not being prepared for any of this. When I realized that I needed to become licensed in order to get additional support, I came to them because there are requirements the state has for safety equipment. Fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide, locks on cabinets. When I came to the agency saying this is my situation, this is what I need, it was an overwhelming response. ‘What else do you need? Do you have clothing?'”
Anyone who needs additional help with fostering and taking care of children should visit the Arizona Helping Hands website here.