New Hampshire News Connection
November 30, 2023
Opioid crisis prompts NH grandparents to 'step up' for their families.
As the opioid crisis continues, more New Hampshire grandparents are seeking financial help to raise their grandchildren.
Already struggling with the emotional loss of their own child to an overdose, grandparents are often taking in multiple grandchildren, who struggle with physical and mental health challenges of their own.
Denyse Richter, founder and executive director of Step Up Parents, a group helping caregivers cover immediate financial needs, said grandparents are helping both their families and their communities.
"If these kids can get a better start and live in a loving home and keep the family connection, it is the next best thing," Richter explained.
Richter pointed out an estimated 12,000 grandparents are raising their grandchildren as New Hampshire continues to experience some of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country.
Step Up Parents was formed in 2018, after Richter saw her own friend struggle with the daily challenges of raising grandkids. Since then, Step Up has helped more than 500 families with more than 800 children cover unexpected medical bills, car payments and more.
Richter called the grandparents "unsung heroes," who never expected to be caring for children in their golden years, especially on fixed incomes.
"I think that just means so much," Richter emphasized. "To let them know that they're not alone, and that we do get that this is really difficult and we want to help."
While New Hampshire has dealt with the full force of the opioid crisis, Richter noted it is also considered a model for other states in helping families experiencing this crisis get the resources they need.
With the holiday season already underway, she added it is important to show these families and caregivers just how much they are appreciated.