Benham Introduces Legislation to Expand Eligibility Requirements for the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

Estimated 202,000 Children Would Potentially Benefit

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 -- State Rep. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, has introduced legislation aimed at expanding the eligibility requirements for the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program to include children who are placed into kinship care. Currently, the waiver program only serves children who have been, or are currently in, the foster care system.

According to Benham, H.B. 2288 would ease the financial struggles facing children in kinship care, providing a path for the same educational opportunities as those in foster care.  

“It’s estimated that there are currently 202,000 children residing in households that are headed by their grandparents or other relatives,” said Benham. “These children are living with family, having avoided the foster care system because of the kinship program. If it were not for the willingness of relatives to step in and take on custodial responsibility, these children would have been in the foster care system.

“While kinship care is wonderful because it keeps the family unit intact, these custody transfers often happen unexpectedly,” Benham said. “And sadly, kinship caregivers cannot afford the child’s college tuition because they didn’t plan on saving for it or are on a fixed income. My legislation would better ensure all children — despite any adversity they’ve faced — receive an education and are positioned to prosper as Pennsylvania is propelled forward.”