Grandparents raising grandchildren tell their stories during forum at Wilkes

WILKES-BARRE, Nov. 29 – Joined by advocates, state officials and grandparents who are raising their own grandchildren, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, hosted a forum at Wilkes University today aimed at shedding light on the issue of grandparents raising grandchildren and moving the legislature to provide more help.

“We heard from so many grandparents today with tragic stories that really tear at your heartstrings,” Pashinski said. “But the one common parallel between them all is that these grandparents have stepped up to the plate and are raising their grandchildren when the children’s parents cannot.”

In Pennsylvania, there are approximately 90,000 grandparents raising over 235,000 grandchildren because the children’s parents are unable or unwilling to do so, often times because of drug or alcohol dependency issues. The opioid epidemic, which has been declared a public health emergency, is only exacerbating the problem.

“It’s bad enough that we’re losing so many of our young people to opioid addiction, but when they leave behind children it makes the situation that much more difficult,” Pashinski said. “When grandparents take in their grandchildren, they save Pennsylvania over $1 billion, but often times at a financial detriment to themselves. The legislature needs to look into this and do what we can to help these grandparents who are putting the needs of Pennsylvania’s children ahead of their own.”

Pashinski has introduced H.B. 1539, legislation aimed at helping grandparents assume temporary guardianship of their grandchild when the parents are unable or unwilling to raise them. House Bill 1539 would still protect the rights of the parent but give the grandparent the legal authority to make basic legal decisions like enrolling the child in school or receiving medical care.

“The time has come for the state to help these grandparents give the next generation a chance to succeed,” Pashinski said.