MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A new state commission wants to hear from you if you’re a grandparent raising your grandchildren.

The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Commission is seeking input as it works to suggest policy solutions to the legislature.

The group is looking into how they can better support the nearly 60,000 Alabama grandparents in a situation they never expected to be in, like Terri Smith of Mobile, who spoke at a recent commission meeting.

“I’ve always been the giver my whole life,” Smith told the Commission. “So, it’s hard to be in this position. It’s really hard.”

Smith had never planned to be the primary caregiver to her 9-year-old granddaughter but said she did what she had to do.

“I have gone from a very nice salary to a $20,000 a year paying job to accommodate my granddaughter that has severe ADHD from her mother trying to kill her with drugs,” Smith said. “I’m in trouble.”

Smith isn’t alone. At that commission meeting last week, others shared similar stories, including Commissioner Keith Lowhorne. He and his wife are raising their 9- and 7-year-old grandchildren.

Both of them are drug babies, born addicted to just a plethora of drugs. We’re raising these children. It was my retirement present,” Lowhorne said. 

Lowhorne said he wants to see the Commission consider recommending what he calls “one-stop shops” across the state with resources for grandparents.

He also applauds the idea of using some of the state’s opioid settlement money.

“If the grandparents get even a smidgen, a smidgen, of this money that’s coming into the state of Alabama, which we wholeheartedly hope happens, we’ll be in a much better place,” Lowhorne said. 

Chairman Randall Shedd said to email to share your experience and suggestions.

“We want to hear from our grandparents raising grandchildren and know what their barriers are,” Shedd said.

The group’s next meeting is in January. They also plan to hold meetings throughout the state before then to hear from the public.