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Trading retirement for child rearing: the opioid crisis

Ohio, among many other states in the region, is currently grappling with an incredibly complex opioid crisis. As a result, a new problem has surfaced: parents' inability to raise their own children. Grandparents have since come to the rescue, trading retirement plans for child rearing. Many might assume that this part of the problem ends here, but in reality, it often makes the issue all the more complicated. 

Last March, The News-Herald reported on the increasing number of grandparent-led households, and the ways this trend crosses over multiple demographics. The report uses a 2016 study to show that some grandparents raise grandchildren with formal, legal custody while others turn to informal custody. In total, there are roughly 40,000 households in Ohio where grandparents live with their children's children. Not only does this change in traditional households affect the lives of grandparents in regard to future plans; it sends many into a state of financial uncertainty. Many grandparents have a fixed income prior to taking on grandchildren, which only suffers further with the many financial needs of children. Most face the difficult challenge of returning to work to pay for various childcare costs. 

The American Society on Aging also gives a clear picture on this heartbreaking crisis that affects families nationwide. In addition to upsetting shift the opioid epidemic has created for family households, the ASA points out that lawmakers have done little to address the problem of financially struggling grandparents. In fact, 20 percent of grandparents raising their grandkids live below the poverty line. Many grandparents struggle with depression and other health complications as a result of this major life change. Looking to the positive side of the issue, the ASA states that children raised by grandparents generally thrive in these living situations. However, as the opioid crisis continues to sweep across the country, thousands of children -- and, subsequently, grandparents -- are in dire need of help.   







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