Legislation, raising awareness to be discussed by Pashinski at grandparents raising grandchildren conference

WILKES-BARRE, Oct. 13 –  Citing his years of working on the topic, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, will speak at the 11th annual Grandparents Raising Grandchildren conference at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20, at the Best Western Plus Genetti Hotel and Conference Center, 77 E. Market St. in Wilkes-Barre.

“Grandparents raising grandchildren is something that is often overlooked, but very prevalent especially in northeastern Pennsylvania,” Pashinski said. “For a variety of reasons, grandparents are often the first line of defense when a parent is unable to care for their children. It’s imperative that events like this take place so grandparents understand they’re not alone and can receive vital information to help make their lives easier.”

Throughout the country, approximately 2.9 million children are being raised in grandfamilies, with over 238,000 Pennsylvanian children living in homes with grandparents or other close relatives. It’s estimated that grandparents save Pennsylvania tens of millions of dollars per year by keeping their grandchildren out of foster care.

Pashinski has introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at helping both grandparents and grandchildren.

House Resolution 290 would direct the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to conduct a study of grandfamilies in Pennsylvania, with a focus on how the opioid epidemic is impacting this growing trend. The JSGC would issue a report to the general assembly outlining their findings and suggesting legislative action to alleviate the struggles placed on grandparents raising grandchildren.

House Bill 1539 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 allow 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.

“My legislation is aimed at helping all parties involved, from the grandparents to the parents to the children,” Pashinski said. “Everyone wants what’s best for the child, so grandparents can proceed with basic decisions to ensure continuity and care for their grandchildren, and parents can hopefully get the help they need while knowing that their children are being properly cared for.

“Studies have shown that placing a child with a close family member, such as a grandparent, helps the child continue to be successful and alleviates stress caused by moving into a foster home. It’s my hope that this conference and my legislation will make Pennsylvania an example of how to help these families going through difficult situations.”

Both H.R. 290 and H.B. 1539 are in the House Children and Youth Committee awaiting action.