PA House Children & Youth Committee unanimously approves Krajewski legislation protecting rights of children of incarcerated parents

HARRISBURG, March 19 – A bill (H.B. 285) introduced by state Rep. Rick Krajewski, D-Phila., that would protect the rights of children of incarcerated parents was unanimously approved by the Pennsylvania House Children & Youth Committee today.

Under current law, most child welfare agencies seek termination of parental rights after 15 months of placement in foster care. Many children whose parents are incarcerated lose their right to see, speak with or know their parents and families – even after their parents return home from incarceration.

Krajewski’s legislation would ensure that parental incarceration is not the sole basis on which a court’s decision for involuntary termination of parental rights is made. This would add to existing exclusions such as environmental factors and medical care if found to be beyond the control of the parent.

“I understand firsthand how difficult the experience of having a parent who is incarcerated can be for a family, especially a child,” Krajewski said. “The uncertainty of when you will see them again, the emotional impact on loved ones, the financial setbacks to a family and the damage done through the unnecessary severance of a child’s connection to their parent are all hardships no one should face, yet so many in our Commonwealth suffer through.

“Incarceration has a traumatic impact on a family, for both the child and the parent,” he said. “And we cannot allow the already immensely difficult hardship of incarceration to become the sole reason for the shattering of families.”

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.