Research from the U.S. Census Bureau has found that states with higher opioid prescribing rates have higher numbers of grandparents raising grandchildren, even after taking into account other socio-economic factors such as poverty. Data from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey allowed researchers to study the relationship between opioid prescription rates at the state and county level and the number of grandparents raising grandchildren. The study found that opioid misuse was involved in 46% of cases where grandparents are caring for grandchildren in rural areas, compared to 32% in urban areas. Nationally, 32% of children in foster care are being raised by relatives with many more are being raised by relatives outside of the foster care system. Currently, 2.7 million grandparents are raising grandchildren. According to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, about 100,000 grandparents are currently raising their grandchildren in Ohio.
Ohio is making progress in reducing its opioid prescribing rates, but rates are still high. Since 2010, Ohio’s overall opioid prescribing rate has dropped from 102.4 to 63.5 per 100 persons, which is still higher than the national rate of 58.7. Cuyahoga is the only urban county, at 50.1 per 100 persons, have an opioid prescribing rate lower than the national rate. In rural counties, the prescribing rate ranges from Nobel the lowest (17.8) to Jackson the highest (112.5). Ohio continues to be challenged by the misuse of opioids with the second-highest opioid overdose death rate of 39.2 deaths per 100,000 persons.
Grandparents raising grandchildren face many special challenges including mental health concerns for themselves and their grandchildren due to the death or temporary loss of their grandchild’s parent (their son or daughter), financial obligations, navigating the school system, and building networks of social and other supports. To respond to the impact of the opioid crisis on grandparents, the federal government enacted The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act in July of 2019. The act created a federal task force to identify and share information to help grandparents raising grandchildren.
Anderson, L. (2019). The opioid prescribing rate and grandparents raising grandchildren: State and county-level analysis. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/working-papers/2019/demo/sehsd-wp2019-04.pdf
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). U.S. Opioid Prescribing Rate Maps | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center. Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/maps/rxrate-maps.html
Cole, P. E., Clausen, K. A., Cook, L., Johanson, M., Cunliffe, J., Associate, R., Rostan, M. (2016). 2016 state of poverty: A portrait of Ohio families. Retrieved from www.oacaa.orgwww.researchpartners.org
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2019). Opioid summaries by state. Retrieved May 31, 2019, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state
Public Children Services Association of Ohio. (2019). PCSAO – Factbook. Retrieved May 31, 2019, from http://www.pcsao.org/factbook