AZ Reps to introduce joint resolution to end inequalities for gr - Tucson News Now

AZ Reps to introduce joint resolution to end inequalities for grandparents raising grandchildren

Reps Martha McSally, Raul Grijalva work in tandem for grandparents raising their grandkids. (Source: Tucson News Now) Reps Martha McSally, Raul Grijalva work in tandem for grandparents raising their grandkids. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Arizona Representatives Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Raul Grijalva are teaming up to introduce a joint resolution in Congress to end some of the inequities for grandparents raising children.

The opioid epidemic in America has led to an ever increasing number of parents who won't or can't raise their own children, who are then raised by grandparents.

"I was 62 when I got the kids," said Andrea Zukowsky, now a 67-year-old grandmother who is trying to raise four children ages 17 months to 12 years.

Her daughter suffers from medical and mental issues, which makes her incapable of raising the children so it has fallen on Andrea.

"It's one of the hardest jobs I have ever done," she said. "It's harder than when I first brought up my daughter."

She says her health is good but she has developed insomnia.

The work load is immense.

The baby "crawls out of her crib at four in the morning and pounds on my head so I have to get up," she said. "And then I get the others ready for school."

Her home was built in the 1950s so it is not up to standards when it comes to qualifying for state aid.

Foster families receive $690 a month plus child care and health insurance, none of which she is eligible for. She survives on a widow's benefit and help from her sister.

"I get $30 a month per child," she said.

The children, who had behavior issues when she took them, have calmed down and are "doing much better in school." she said.

Those are some of the inequities both McSally and Grijalva are talking about, things that need to be changed.

"There has to be some equity between the licensed foster care process that exists now and kinship and grandparents who take care of their grandkids," Grijalva said.

That's why the pair will introduce a resolution to Congress calling for September to be National Kinship Caregivers month.

While resolutions are introduced often, in many cases, it's the beginning of a dialogue.

"These resolutions are important to raise awareness for the people to feel you are valued and we need to work together to removed additional barriers," said McSally.

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