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Representatives Jim McGovern, Ayanna Pressley Introduce Legislation to Assist Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

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Washington, December 12, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON Today, Representatives James P. McGovern (MA-2) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) introduced a new bill to provide additional resources for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

Full Text of the Legislation Available Here (PDF)

One-Page Fact Sheet on the Legislation Available Here (PDF)

Their bill, H.R. 5406, The Grandfamily Housing Act, would create a new, nationwide pilot program to provide funding to help grandparents raising their grandchildren access safe, affordable and appropriate housing.

Last week, McGovern and Pressley held a roundtable in Worcester, MA where they heard directly from grandparents about the specific challenges they face when raising a grandchild. Frequently, grandparents are financially unprepared to care for a grandchild. They often have difficulty accessing school or medical records of their grandchildren. Additionally, grandparent-led households regularly lack adequate and age-appropriate housing. Their bill builds on many of the concerns they heard at the roundtable.

“This is a huge issue that hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention, and we need to change that,” said Congressman McGovern. “Grandparents are stepping up across Massachusetts to help raise their grandchildren, but the bottom line is that the resources that are available to parents just aren’t there for grandparents. I’ve heard from many grandparents that finding age-appropriate affordable housing is a major obstacle, so our bill establishes a new nationwide pilot program to modify and build appropriate housing and fund residential coordinators to help grandparents navigate the complexities of raising a grandchild. Every child in our country deserves to grow up in a safe, loving environment that allows them to live up to their full potential, and that’s what our bill is all about.”

“Many families have been destabilized by poverty, violence, and other life tragedies,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Grandparents raising grandchildren are the ultimate stabilizers, caring for children who often require extra love and support after experiencing trauma. But all too often, our society fails to recognize the contributions of these caregivers or provide them with the support and resources they need. As Vice Chair of the House Task Force on Aging and Families and an advocate for aging Americans, I am proud to introduce the Grandfamily Housing Act, which will ensure that grandfamilies have a safe, affordable, and age-appropriate place to call home. The Grandfamily Housing Act is an important piece of legislation that will uplift our grandfamilies and affirm their right to thrive in community.”

McGovern and Pressley’s bill is endorsed by three major national advocacy groups that support grandparents raising grandchildren: The National Council on Aging, Generations United, and LeadingAge.

“Grandfamily caregivers grapple with unique and pressing issues that this bill would address by providing greatly needed support including funds for staffing, services, facilities, community outreach and other services. Thanks to the leadership of Congressman McGovern and Congresswoman Pressley, grandparents and other older relatives caring full-time for a relative child will get some welcome relief,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan. “LeadingAge’s 6,000 mission-driven member organizations are always ready to do more to help this community and believe this bill takes a big step forward in achieving that goal.”

“The National Council on Aging commends Representative McGovern for his grandfamily housing bill that acknowledges the urgent need to support older Americans who are struggling as caregivers for their grandchildren,” said National Council on Aging President and CEO Jim Firman. “The comprehensive array of services this legislation provides is vitally important for a vulnerable segment of the older adult population that continues to grow year after year.”

“Grandfamilies face unique housing challenges.  These families frequently come together at a moment's notice, often with a call in the middle of the night.  Children may be prohibited from their caregiver's existing housing or it may not be adequate,” according to Ana Beltran, Special Advisor to Generations United's National Center on Grandfamilies. “This legislation is a critical step in providing more grandfamilies with affordable housing opportunities that include vital supportive services for the caregivers and children.”

Last year, Congressman McGovern introduced bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives – the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act – to create a federal advisory council focused on developing and disseminating information designed to help grandparents. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on July 7, 2018 as Public Law 115-196. The advisory council held their first meeting in August.

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