HELENA — The Montana Area Agencies on Aging Association (M4A) are currently conducting a survey in Lewis and Clark County to interview grandparents who are raising their grandchildren due to their children battling addiction.
The survey started in April of 2021 and will continue for 18 months.
M4A partnered with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and Adult Protective Services on the project. It also includes out-of-state partners like the University of Illinois and Purdue University.
According to Montana State University, more than 13,000 children are living with their grandparents in the Treasure State. Some of the reasons that their grandparents are raising more children are connected to the opioid crisis.
M4A hopes to connect grandparents to service providers to a wide range of needs that they may have, from obtaining health insurance for their grandchildren to the successful transfer of care. They also focus on outlets to help grandparents who have been victims of the substance abuser, such as theft or other types of abuse they may have suffered.
If a grandparent participates, a case will be open, and a monitor will come to their home, build a relationship and conduct an interview with a grandparent.
“That’s what we are finding as we are doing these interviews is that there are so many different variables, and each situation is unique, and they are struggles with getting them on insurance not having guardianship but needed to do guardship type roles in their lives. The more that we find these different gaps, the sooner we can help find solutions for that," said Nikki Thennis, who works with Adult Protective Services as a monitor for the M4A project says,
More information about the Montana Area Agencies on Aging Association and the APS Monitoring Project can be found here.