Meth a bigger problem than booze in forcing kids into grandparents' care, charity insists

A charity that supports grandparents caring for their grandchildren disputes a Government agency's assertion that alcohol abuse is a bigger problem than methamphetamine in contributing to family dysfunction.

Meth addiction is being blamed as a key reason older family members are becoming caregivers once again. Source: 1 NEWS

Charity group Grandparents Raising Grandchildren says meth is the key reason grandparents are stepping in to raise their grandchildren and in the last three years 1800 more families have reached out for help.

Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, says meth use is just one of the symptoms of wider family dysfunction, not necessarily the main cause, and alcohol is a bigger problem. 

"It's what then happens, because when parents have a drug addiction be that alcohol, be that meth, be that another substance, they tend to make choices. So they make choices that sometimes aren't in the best interests of the child," said Grainne Moss, Oranga Tamariki chief executive.

But Grandparents Raising Children says it carried out a major research study last year and alcohol abuse was sixth on the list as a factor causing children to go into grandparent care.  

Drug use is the leading reason and the only drug cited in the study of over 1100 caregivers was meth, said Kate Bundle of the group.

"Methamphetamine, in our experience is the major catalyst causing the breakdown of the family, rendering parents unable to parent their children. Alcohol abuse doesn't come close to having such a devastating effect on the family," she said.

One grandmother, who 1 NEWS called Aroha, cares for 11 grandchildren as their parents are addicted to P and she says it is an epidemic. 

"Meth destroys the families because the parents are not in control.  They can't take barely hardly any care of themselves, let alone their children," Aroha said.