BlogRx is a content series developed by the Prescription Drug Safety Network to discuss the prescription drug safety landscape.

“Grandfamilies” is a term for families in which children are being raised by grandparents, other extended family members, or other adults with whom they have a close family-like relationship, such as a godparent or close family friend.

According to a recent study done by Generations United, overall foster care systems are relying more on grandparents and other relatives to care for children when their parents cannot. The percentage of children in foster care with relatives has increased from 24 percent in 2008 to 32 percent in 2016.

“The bad news is that we’ve seen an increase in children losing their parents. The good news is they are more likely to be placed with relatives, and research shows that children who cannot remain with their parents do best with relatives,” said Donna Butts, executive director at Generations United. “Kids experience greater stability leading them to much better outcomes.  Most fundamentally, the children in grandfamilies are more likely to say they always feel loved.”

To help support families in this situation, particularly those that have been impacted by the Opioid Crisis, Generations United has launched a powerful tool, Grand Resource: Help for Grandfamilies Impacted by Opioids and Other Substance Use, which addresses a range of topics from practicing self-care, managing childhood trauma, preventing harmful drug use, and having conversations with children about their birth-parents’ drug use.

When coupled with effective drug abuse prevention education in schools, tools like GrandResource can truly ensure that families are able to find the support they need to overcome challenges of addiction. Bette Hoxie, one of the collaborators, believes that compassion and stigma reduction can be very powerful for students who are dealing with personal distress associated with parents or siblings suffering from addiction. Bette advocates for implementing trauma-informed approaches in schools.

“Schools cannot and should not be solely responsible by any means, but educators do play an important role. Educators have access to the children for several hours during the day and I think the more that they can encourage a healthy environment and an opportunity to be active and drug-free, the more likely they are to create healthy outcomes.”

The population level prevention approach that guides EVERFI’s Prescription Drug Safety course aims to tackle drug misuse and abuse  upstream by giving youth the knowledge and skills they need to make informed and healthy decisions about prescription drugs.  Tools like GrandResource are also critical to creating a supportive environment in and outside of schools for families in need. For more information visit the GrandResource online.