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Photo by Nick Weiss/WITF

FILE PHOTO: Legislators, experts, and some members of the public gathered at the Yorktowne Hotel to discuss solutions to the heroin crisis in Pennsylvania.

(Harrisburg) — The plight of grandparents caught up in the opioid and heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania is slated to be the topic of a hearing at the state capitol this week.

In 2015, nearly 89,000 grandparents across the state were the primary caregivers for their grandchildren — a 10 percent increase since 2000, according to data from the U-S Census Bureau. 

Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Republican state Senator Gene Yaw of Bradford County, says many grandparents have to take care of their grandchildren because the parents have overdosed or are suffering from addiction.

“That just creates all kinds of problems for them. For example, they really have no legal authority to get medical care for their grandchildren or to put them in school and things like that,” he says.

The hearing scheduled Wednesday morning will gather testimony on ways the commonwealth can make it easier for grandparents to assume the role of primary caregivers.