Grandparents stepping up in the addiction crisis


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — More than 23,000 children find themselves in the foster care system every year in Ohio.

When substance abuse hits a family, grandparents are often called to take on the role as parent. At times, it can be a stressful role to fill.

Karey Dyer is a grandmother whose story is similar to many Ohio families touched by drug addiction.

“My daughter and her child’s father were telling on each other ‘Well you do this, you do that,’ and it all came out,” says Dyer as she recalls the night she found out her daughter was addicted to drugs. “I said, ‘Where is my granddaughter?’ and they said, ‘Well, she is in the house.’ My daughter said, ‘She’s in the house with his brother who is a heroin addict’.”

Two and a half years ago, Dyer’s life would forever change.

“I went to my husband and said, ‘We have to take her,’” Dyer said.

Dyer and her husband then went to child protective services to get emergency temporary custody of their granddaughter.

According to the Agency on Aging in Ohio, 10 percent of grandparents are involved with raising and providing most of the care for their grandchildren. One in four of that 10 percent are sole providers.

“There are many grandparents out there who are raising their children’s children, trying to make sure they get to school and that they get the education they need,” Dyer said.

She explained that she often found herself depressed and overwhelmed, until she found a group that gave her hope: The Addict’s Parents United, a support group of grandparents coming together to navigate through the devastation of addiction.

“Sometimes I would just cry with [my granddaughter] and say, ‘I miss mommy too, and I love mommy. I hope that mommy will get better,’ and we prayed together,” Dyer added. “I did the thing that I could understand that I hope would give her hope.”

Dyer said her daughter is receiving help through a support group. She hopes to continue to mend her family that was once broken.