– Legislation that will assist grandparents raising their grandchildren better access resources is one step away from becoming state law, according to Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th), who authored the proposal.
House Bill 2133
, which would establish the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program, passed the state Senate on Wednesday and received an overwhelming concurrence vote later that day.
“I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for recognizing that grandparents across this state who are raising their children need a bit of help,” said Watson, who serves as chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee. “Sadly, due to the destructive opioid epidemic, thousands of grandparents are trying to raise the children left behind. The vast majority of them don’t want any type of handout, but they do want some guidance on where to go to get help for their grandchildren.”
The Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program would be an informational resource for these grandparents and would operate both as a website and a toll-free hotline. The website would offer information on support and services available, and a specially trained navigator would be able to provide support and guidance to kinship caregivers, and serve as a mediator to establish relationships between kinship caregivers and relevant federal, state and local agency staff.
Watson pointed out that the cost to state taxpayers would be greatly reduced, as the Commonwealth just received $479,307 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to develop the program.
“The benefit of this program is that it will actually save taxpayers money,” said Watson. “Not only do grandparents raising grandchildren keep these youth out of foster care, but research shows that keeping children with family when they are unable to remain with a parent is best for their physical, emotional and mental well-being. Children thrive in these families because they provide stability and permanence.”
Another measure to help grandchildren, House Bill 1539
, authored by Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) to grant temporary guardianship to grandparents when the parents of the grandchildren are unable to care for them primarily due to substance abuse issues, is also on the governor’s desk.
An estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for the nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania.
Representative Kathy Watson
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton