Benham, Ortitay advance kinship tuition bill through committee

Bipartisan bill to expand tuition waver program headed for House chamber vote

HARRISBURG, April 12 – In a victory for children living in kinship care, the Pennsylvania House Education Committee today voted to advance legislation that would expand eligibility for the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program, announced state Reps. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, and Jason Ortitay, R-Allegheny/Washington.

“While kids in kinship care may not have formally entered the foster care system, they still face a lot of the same financial struggles as kids within the foster system,” Benham said. “Custody transfers to kinship care often happen unexpectedly, so the caregivers likely haven’t done proper financial planning to send a child to college. All children deserve the same opportunities to pursue higher education, and this bill would greatly expand education opportunities for kids in kinship care.”

Benham added that Ortitay, the bill’s co-prime sponsor, has played an integral role in the bill’s recent progress.

“Children who were fortunate to find a home with a relative or other kinship caregiver should receive the same opportunities as foster care children,” Ortitay said. “These children have already undergone a huge upheaval in their lives. This change eliminates one piece of uncertainty for them. I’m happy to partner to advance this important bill and hope it receives consideration by the full House quickly.”

Now that is has been reported out of committee, H.B. 668 is set to receive consideration by the full House during the 2023-24 legislative session.