Governor Wolf Thanks House for Passage of ‘Grandfamilies’ Legislation, Urges Senate to Vote

April 17, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf issued the following statement today in support of the House passage of a package of legislative proposals pertaining to grandparents raising grandchildren, including House bills 2133 and 1539, and House Resolution 390. It’s estimated that 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania with that number increasing due to the devastating opioid crisis across the commonwealth.

“With more and more grandparents stepping up to care for their grandchildren – an outcome of the devastating opioid crisis – it’s imperative that we make sure they have our full support as caregivers and legal guardians of children, our most innocent bystanders to this awful epidemic. These bills do that and I am pleased with the support they have received in the House. I thank Reps. Watson and Pashinski for their sponsorship and the entire House for passing these today.

“Many grandparents are making sacrifices to help their families and communities and they should be accessing all the programs available to help them. I urge the Senate to follow suit and pass these bills and get them to my desk with the necessary funding so that we can begin to provide support to grandfamilies while we further study this growing trend.”

Legislation passed by the House includes:

HB2133 (Rep. Kathy Watson) establishes a Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program within the Department of Human Services as a resource for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren but who are not involved with the formal child welfare system. The program creates an informational resource for grandparents using a website and a toll-free hotline to provide information on support and services available to them.

HB 1539 (Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski) provides a way for grandparents to obtain temporary guardianship while protecting both the parental rights of parents, including those suffering from opioid addiction, and the needs of the child to be with loving family members, rather than be placed in foster care or other arrangements.

House Resolution 390 (Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski) directs the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to study grandfamilies in Pennsylvania, with a focus on how the opioid crisis is impacting this growing trend.

The House Children and Youth Committee held a hearing on this issue last summer, with estimates showing that Pennsylvania grandparents are saving the state an estimated $1 billion a year by keeping their grandchildren out of the foster care system, but that figure may be even higher because many of these grandfamilies are not on the state’s radar.

Gov. Wolf recently joined U.S. Senator Bob Casey in urging the U.S. House to pass the senator’s federal legislation, Supporting Grandparent Raising Grandchildren Act, which passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate in March.

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