TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Nia H. Gill, to create a “Grandparenting Resource Center Pilot Program” which would assist grandparents who are left to raise their grandchildren, was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“New Jersey has an estimated 140,000 children living with their grandparents, who are the sole caregivers for them,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “This bill would provide those grandparents with the necessary resources to find legal assistance, health care and other needed services to assist them in their efforts.”
“Few grandparents realize that only a legal guardian can enroll a child in school, and these grandparents who care for their grandchildren but are not their legal guardians need to know this kind of information,” said Senator Rice. “A resource center would be able to walk grandparent through the often difficult situations that occur when grandparents are left to raise their grandchildren.”
The bill, S-435, would create a two-year regional pilot program that would establish regional center in the northern, central and southern areas of the state. The bill would call for $1.5 million in funding for these centers that would be open to grandparents currently raising their grandchildren in these areas of the state.
“These resource centers will ease the pressures for those who provide care and protection for their children’s children,” said Senator Nia H. Gill, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Grandparents will be able to learn parenting skills to help them cope with kids in today’s technology society.”
According to Senator Rice, “There is so much red tape that gets in the way of grandparents trying to do what’s best for their grandchildren, and this bill will provide the scissors that can cut through that tape. Raising children is a challenge, and we want these grandparents to know that they have the State’s support,” Senator Rice added.
Eighteen months into the program, the Commissioner of Human Services would report to the Legislature and the Governor on the effectiveness of the pilot program and present recommendations for continuing and if necessary, expanding the program.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.