A combination of the opioid crisis and the financial pressures facing Millennials has led to a record number of grandparents raising their own grandchildren, and many of those grandparents gathered at a south side hall on Tuesday to demand changes in the way state Child Protective Services officials handle their cases, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The effort to bring the grandparents together was sponsored by the Alamo Area Council of Governments.
Delia Martinez, who is a grandparent raising her grandchildren, says they want benefits from the state which are equal to those received by foster families who take in children.
"Say I have twins," she said. "Say I put one in foster care and place the other with a grandparent. The one in foster care immediately gets all the help, even college tuition for that child. The one who is placed with the grandparent gets nothing."
She says the state needs to realize that grandparents are not only relieving the currently horribly overburdened foster care system of additional responsibility, but, unlike taking in a foster child or even having a baby, the responsibility of taking care of a grandchild frequently comes instantly, and without any preparation.
"All of a sudden, one night, there is a knock at the door, and the police are there, and they say, here are the kids, you need to take care of them," she said.
Martinez says many grandparents are retired or will soon be retired, and are on fixed incomes."I have grandmothers telling us, I have five medications I take, which one is the most important," she said. "Then that is the one I will continue, because I have to put food on the table."
She says many of the grandparents take in children in emergency situations, without having any idea of the financial responsibility they are taking on, and without any support. Martinez says for every child who is in foster care, there are twenty being raised by a grandparent.
She says the state needs to understand that this is happening, and adjust the rules to deal with it.
"You need money for this, you need money for that, and they go to ask, but are told it's too late now," she said. "Once you have taken possession of the kids, that's it, you don't get anything."