Bipartisan grandparents raising grandchildren legislative package passes House

HARRISBURG, April 17 – A legislative package aimed at helping grandparents raising grandchildren, introduced by Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, and Rep. Kathy Watson, R-Bucks, passed the House today and moves to the Senate.

“I’m tremendously appreciative to my fellow House members who recognize the benefit these bills would give to grandparents raising their grandchildren,” Pashinski said. “These grandparents are doing a tremendous service for their loved ones and saving Pennsylvania billions of dollars by keeping their grandchildren out of the foster care system. We owe it to them to work together to make their lives easier.”

In Pennsylvania, an estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers of nearly 89,000 grandchildren. The increasing opioid epidemic has worsened an already growing problem. Research has shown that children achieve higher levels of success when they’re able to stay in a stable household situation with close family members. In addition to that, grandparents keeping their grandchildren out of the foster care system saves the state over an estimated $1 billion per year. 

The bills that passed the House include:

  • House Bill 2133, which would establish the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program – an informational resource for grandparents, both as a website and a toll-free hotline. The website would offer information on support and services available, and a specially trained navigator would be able to provide support and guidance to a kinship caregiver, and serve as a mediator to establish relationships between kinship caregivers and relevant federal, state and local agency staff. (Sponsored by Watson.)
  • House Bill 1539, which would grant temporary guardianship to grandparents when the parents of the grandchildren are unable to care for them primarily due to substance abuse issues. The temporary guardianship would give grandparents the right to make vital basic decisions for their grandchildren, such as the ability to take a child to the doctor or enroll the child in school. (Sponsored by Pashinski.)
  • House Resolution 390, which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the trend of grandfamilies in Pennsylvania and report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly. (Sponsored by Pashinski.)

This is a big step toward helping grandparents but we’re certainly not over the finish line,” Pashinski said. “I will continue to work with Representative Watson and advocate for the Senate to pass House Bill 1539 and House Bill 2133. We’ve had tremendous support from other House members, advocates, and even Governor Tom Wolf. I’m confident we can get these bills to the governor’s desk and will do everything in my power to make sure that happens.”