Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
On July 8, 2008, the Child Advocate bill was signed into law which included the establishment
of the Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (Section 1 of Chapter 176,
the Acts of 2008 M.G.L. Chapter 3, section 69). This legislation calls for a permanent commission
on the status of grandparents raising grandchildren which consists of 15 individuals who have
demonstrated a commitment to grandparents.
All Commission meetings are open to the public. Dates, times and locations are posted at www.mass.gov/elders
The Commission’s responsibilities include:
Fostering unity among grandparents raising grandchildren, communities and organizations in the commonwealth, by promoting cooperation and sharing of information and encouraging collaboration and joint activities;
Serving as a liaison between government and private interest groups with regard to the unique interest and concern to grandparents raising grandchildren;
Advising executive and legislative bodies of the potential effect of proposed legislation on grandparents raising grandchildren, as the commission deems necessary and appropriate;
And identifying issues that are faced by relatives, other than parents, who are raising children. Currently, the Commission meets monthly at various locations around the state. These meetings are open to the public and posted at www.mass.gov/elders.
The Commission spent its first year (2009-10) conducting a Learning Tour across the state, in order to identify the issues that were of most concern to grandparents and kin (Listening and Learning Tour). By using the feedback from that tour, a written report Listening Tour Report; and an article Grandparents raising Grandchildren, from toiling to spoiling were developed. Also as a result of these findings, the Commission created four sub-committees to further explore the most urgent issues and begin to make appropriate recommendations. They are:
Legal information and access to legal services Lynn Girton, chair
Information and Referral / Interagency Kerry Bickford, chair
collaboration / Navigating the system Skip Stuck, co-chair
Economic support and self sufficiency John Lepper, chair
Strategies to create and sustain support groups Margo Cheevers, chair
for grandparents and kin across the state
The Legal Sub-Committee of the Commission focuses on many issues. Its members give presentations throughout the state to grandparents who are raising grandchildren and various service agencies about the legal relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild. As a part of these efforts, the Sub-Committee creates resource materials that help grandparents raising grandchildren understand their rights and responsibilities. This Sub-Committee also works on expanding the legal resources that are available to grandparents. We advocate with various publicly funded legal services programs to provide lawyers to eligible grandparents seeking to obtain either guardianship or adoption of the child for whom they are caring. We approach various bar associations to see if they are able to make additional resources available to such grandparents. You can find information on legal resources on this page as well as in the Helpful Links section on this website. Finally, members of this Sub-Committee review and comment upon proposed legislation that might impact on grandparents raising grandchildren. Members also inform other members of the Commission about relevant court decisions or changes in practice in the courts.
Although Commissioners chair working groups, there are many community members and organizations represented on these committees who have made generous contributions of time and ongoing support. As a result, we have made great progress moving forward on many initiatives that empower and educate grandparents about the choices that they have and the resources available to them. Much of this work is done by volunteers.
In addition, some of the Commissioners run support groups, others represent the Commission at events when we are invited to present, and still others spend many hours behind the scenes talking to grandparents, community groups, and advancing the work of the Commission on the legislative level.
We are hoping that this website is a place we can share information and tools that reflect the work we are doing on each of these issues, and we welcome your input, questions, corrections and comments!
We are committed to the grandparents' voice, and we invite you learn more about the Commission and especially to work with us as we continue to move forward. Grandparents contribute so much to their families and communities. Please join us in supporting them.
To contact the Commission:
Mail: Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
c/o Colleen Pritoni, GRG Coordinator, 600 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02111
Click here for a one page (PDF) description of the Grandparent Commission.