With more children living with relatives due to opioid epidemic, bill would support opioid-impacted children by providing free school meals.
Washington, D.C. – Sen. Bob Casey has introduced the Caregivers Access and Responsible Expansion for Kids Act of 2019 (S. 2760), or the CARE for Kids Act. This bill would expand free school meal eligibility for children, including many who are living with grandparents, relatives or other caregivers. As a result, this legislation would provide financial relief to the millions of caregivers who have taken on this responsibility, as well as bolster nutritional support for the children in their care.
“Far too many children across Pennsylvania and the nation have unstable living situations, many of whom are displaced due to the opioid epidemic. During this tumultuous time, these children should not have to worry when or where they will receive their next meal,” Casey said. “The CARE for Kids Act provides assurance that these children can maintain access to nutritious foods through school meal programs. This legislation also eases the financial burden for the selfless caregivers, often grandparents or other relatives, who have taken on the responsibility of caring for these children.”
“All across Pennsylvania, grandparents are doing heroic work to provide the love and stability that children need and deserve,” Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Robert Torres, whose department conducted a statewide listening tour and formed a Grandfamilies Workgroup to help raise awareness and make recommendations on issues facing grandfamilies, said. “They’re making real sacrifices to help their families during difficult times, and they need all the help they can get. We thank Senator Casey for his leadership in introducing the CARE for Kids Act of 2019, which will help ease the financial burden on these special families by reducing their household food costs.”
“The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities across the nation, and grandparents and other relatives are stepping up to care for the children who are being impacted,” Jim Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center, said. “FRAC is proud to endorse the CARE Act, which will ensure access to free school meals and provide an important financial and nutritional support for these struggling families.”
“More than 2.6 million children are being raised by grandparents who have often stepped up unexpectedly stretching their resources and with little time to prepare. They need access to services and supports for the children in their care to thrive. Generations United applauds Senator Bob Casey for introducing The CARE for Kids Act which will provide much needed access to school lunches and alleviate one worry grandfamilies face,” Donna Butts, executive director, Generations United, said.
The School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs provide critical support to reduce household food costs and can help ease the financial burden on caregivers who have taken on the important responsibility of raising children. The CARE for Kids Act of 2019 aims to support these caregivers by building on existing school meal eligibility for foster children, who are already eligible for free meals, ensuring that children diverted out of the foster care system to these informal living arrangements are not left behind.
The CARE for Kids Act is endorsed by AASA: the School Superintendents Association; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Federation of Teachers; Association of School Business Officials International; Food Research and Action Center; Feeding America; Generations United; National Education Association; National Rural Action Committee; National Rural Education Association; School Social Work Association of America; Feeding PA; Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger; Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvannia and Philabundance.