Bill to address toll of opioid crisis on children passes New Hampshire Senate
Child advocates and community members supported Senate Bill 148, which would establish a commission to study grandfamilies
CONCORD, FEBRUARY 09, 2017 — As part of its continued efforts to address the opioid crisis, the New Hampshire Senate passed SB 148 establishing a commission to study grandfamilies. Introduced by Senator Martha Hennessey of District 5, the bill passed with a voice vote. The bill focuses on grandparents who serve as primary caretakers for their grandchildren, and identifying concerns specific to this population.
There are more than 8,000 grandparents serving as primary caregivers in New Hampshire, partially driven by the growing opioid crisis as parents with addiction become unable to care for their children. As new caregivers, grandparents face unique obstacles providing for young children.
“I have been raising two of my grandchildren since 2004 and have had little help with them,” said Debora Perry, who submitted testimony in support of the bill to the Health and Human Services Committee. “Finding ways to make a better life for them has proven difficult at times. I have done what I can as a single parent.”
In an effort to better understand issues facing grandfamilies, SB 148 creates a commission to study barriers facing grandfamilies, identify causes of barriers facing grandfamilies, develop corrective actions, and identify current actions being taken to address grandfamilies in New Hampshire.
The bill has support from child advocacy organizations and community members.
“In establishing this commission, we will ensure that grandfamilies are considered, their voices heard and that they are included as vital part of the solution to better protect our children,” said Christina D’Allessandro, State Director for MomsRising. “These are valuable voices and they need to be given a seat at the table.”
As awareness around grandfamilies continues to grow in New Hampshire, this bill is necessary to identify the needs of grandfamilies, while laying groundwork for opportunities to better support this growing population.
“The passage of this bill shows that our Senators recognize how important it is to support grandparents who are caregivers,” said MaryLou Beaver, Director of Every Child Matters in New Hampshire. “SB 148 is an important first step in addressing the toll the opioid crisis is taking on New Hampshire’s children. We look forward to advocating in support of this bill as it moves through the legislative process in the House.”
Every Child Matters in New Hampshire works with child advocacy organizations, child serving sites, health providers, senior groups, colleges, parents, grandparents and others, to help ensure that every child has what he or she needs to grow up healthy, safe and well educated. Learn more at everychildmatters.org.
Director, Every Child Matters in New Hampshire