MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, another state commission is seeking your input.
The Grandparents Raising Grandkids Commission is actively seeking feedback as it works to propose strategic solutions to the legislature.
The commission is exploring ways to better support the nearly 60,000 Alabama grandparents who find themselves in unexpected caregiving situations, as highlighted by Terri Smith from Mobile during a recent commission meeting.
“I’ve always been the provider my entire life,” Smith shared with the commission. “So, being in this position is challenging. It’s really hard.”
Smith, who hadn’t planned to become the primary caregiver for her 9-year-old granddaughter, expressed the difficulties she faces, stating, “I have gone from a very good salary to a $20,000 a year position to accommodate my granddaughter, who has severe ADHD due to her mother’s attempt to harm her with drugs. I’m in a tough situation.”
Smith’s experience is not unique. Others at the commission meeting last week shared similar stories, including Chief Keith Lowhorne, who, along with his wife, is raising their 9- and 7-year-old grandchildren.
“Both of them are drug babies, born addicted to a variety of drugs. We’re raising these kids. It was my retirement gift,” Lowhorne explained.
Lowhorne expressed the need for the Commission to consider recommending “all-in-one resources” across the state with support for grandparents. He also suggested utilizing some of the state’s opioid settlement funds.
“If the grandparents get even a bit, a touch, of this money coming into the state of Alabama, which we sincerely hope happens, we’ll be in a much better place,” Lowhorne said.
Director Randall Shedd encouraged individuals to email email@example.com to share their experiences and ideas.
“We want to hear from our grandparents raising grandkids and understand what their challenges are,” Shedd emphasized.
The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for January, and they plan to hold public meetings throughout the state before then to gather input from the community.