Governor JB Pritzker today signed House Bill 0780 to establish and administer a Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Pilot Program in Will County beginning Jan. 1, 2024, through Jan. 1, 2027.
The Illinois Department on Aging worked in close coordination with Leader Natalie Manley to establish this legislation that amends the Illinois Act on Aging. It will require an intake coordinator for Will County to be responsible for connecting grandparents raising grandchildren to relevant resources and services provided by state agencies.
“As Governor, I’ve made it my mission to help make Illinois the best state in the nation to raise a family,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “And that means supporting parents, guardians or grandparents — and our youngest Illinoisans. Through this pilot program in Will County, we will connect grandparents raising grandchildren to relevant resources and services provided by state agencies, while creating a public awareness campaign to keep all Illinois grandparents in the know.”
“In Illinois, we recognize that our children are set up for success when their support system is equipped with the resources and services to thrive,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Pilot Program will be an essential tool for our elders to connect to the assistance that will help them lift up their grandchildren for greatness.”
In Illinois, nearly 264,000 children under the age of 18 are living in a home where a relative is the head of the household, and more than 70,000 grandparents across the state are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.
The pilot program advances the reach and impact of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program that works to locate, assist and promote awareness of older caregivers who are currently raising their family’s children.
The pilot includes raising awareness about the following programs:
- The Extended Family Support Program administered by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS)
- The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program administered by the Illinois Departments on Aging (IDoA)
- The Child Only Grants assistance component of TANF program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS)
- The Children Health Insurance Program administered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS)
The legislation also includes:
- The creation of a public awareness campaign on services and resources offered by each agency.
- A requirement for the IDoA to submit an annual report to the General Assembly on the number of families who received referral, specific services received, and other related information from the intake coordinator during the prior calendar year. The first report will be due by January 1, 2025, and continue through the termination of the pilot program.
“Raising a child can be difficult for anyone, and with the many unique issues facing older adults, it can be overwhelming to deal with the hardships that come with raising children,” said State Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet). “There are many resources that the state provides grandparents to help alleviate some of the burden that they are facing, and the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Pilot Program will ensure that seniors are connected to these resources and can take full advantage of them.”
“Grandparents often take on the role of raising their grandchildren,” said State Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel (D-Shorewood). “We’re streamlining the process so they have a direct, local contact to connect with about the resources available. This is a way to address the needs of caretakers while also helping our youth succeed on a path towards a bright future.”
“Raising a child can be hard, especially if you are a senior citizen,” said Romeoville Mayor John Noak. “I’m very happy to see it will now be easier than ever for these parenting seniors to get the assistance they need. When it comes to raising a child, every bit helps.”
“This new law will make it so much easier for grandparents raising grandchildren to access the services and resources they need, without spending hours browsing government websites,” said IDoA Director Paula Basta. “Caregivers will be able to talk with a real person who’s an expert at navigating state agencies, meaning families get connected with resources quickly and efficiently. This pilot program will have multigenerational benefits, and the Department on Aging is excited to help it get off the ground in Will County.”
“This program will be a vital lifeline, connecting dedicated grandparents with essential resources they need to provide a loving and stable home for their grandchildren,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Governor Pritzker and Leader Manley for signing this bill and establishing Will County as the pilot for this much-needed program.”