A group of Lorain County grandparents and other relatives forced to take over custody of children affected by the heroin epidemic in Ohio are pushing for increased support from the state.
Opioid abuse and mental illness are the some of the most common reasons members of the group “All 4 Family” are raising their relatives’ children.
They serve a similar role as foster parents but these caretakers have found that financial support is anything but equal.
“I receive $360 a month for both kids,” said Ginny Crow, who became a mother overnight to her niece’s two young children after one baby was born addicted to heroin. “For the first time in my life, I have to stress about how am I going make sure that we have food for the end of the week. It’s a scary thought.”
In Lorain County, foster parents receive monthly checks for a daily board rate that can total more than $1000 per child. But grandparents don't fall in the same category.
“I think that times have changed and the laws need to be updated,” said All 4 Family’s founder, Gloria Nestor, who is now raising her 4-year-old granddaughter.
Nestor and her group are in the process of reaching out to lawmakers to make the reimbursements more equal.
“It would be terrible to get to the point where a grandparent has to give up a child to the foster care system because they can’t get the help they need,” she said.
According to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, the number of children in foster care is up more than 13 percent since the year 2012 and at least half of the children taken into custody had parents that were using drugs.
Child welfare workers have estimated that for every one child in foster care, more than a dozen children are being cared for by a relative who is not his or her mother or father.
All 4 Family has monthly meetings on the first Thursday of every month at the Lorain County Community College Wellington Center from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The facility is wheelchair accessible. Anyone looking for more information can email All4family17@gmail.com or visit the all4family Facebook group.