PHOENIX - Grandparents raising their grandchildren is happening more often across the country, including in Arizona where 62,000 grandparents are taking on the role.
In the state, there are less than 3,000 foster families with licenses, and Arizona Helping Hands wants to help not just with all the important things, but by getting families licensed as well. That includes grandparents who unexpectedly are raising their grandkids because of drug addictions.
"Our entire goal is to help these kiddos get back on their feet by giving them everything they need," said Bethany Eggleston with Arizona Helping Hands. "They need help and they're not able to take care of their families because they have these addictions, so grandparents are stepping in and becoming parents a second time."
Bridgette Nieves is a grandmother raising her granddaughter.
"It's very overwhelming at first when you take this on and not being prepared for any of this," she said.
Nieves is raising Leah and will soon adopt her. Nieves says her daughter, Leah's mom, lost custody by the state because of drug addiction.
After getting custody, she didn't realize how helpful it would be to become licensed, so that's when she went to Helping Hands.
"When I realized that I needed to become licensed in order to get additional support, I came to them because there are requirements the state has for safety equipment. Fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide, locks on cabinets. When I came to the agency saying this is my situation, this is what I need, it was an overwhelming response. ‘What else do you need? Do you have clothing?'" she said of all the help she got.
She hopes the tens of thousands of other grandparents in her situation in Arizona see the help they can have access to.
Learn more about Arizona Helping Hands by clicking here.