Legislation to help grandparents raising grandchildren access legal help introduced by Pashinski

HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, introduced legislation today to create a Legal Services for Kinship Care Families Grant Program for eligible nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal services to kinship care families.

“Many kinship families are low-income households already facing complex issues and aren’t equipped to navigate the complicated legal process on their own. This legal assistance will allow at-risk children to stay in stable family environments, relieving excessive pressure on the foster care system,” Pashinski said. “In Pennsylvania alone, there are an estimated 202,000 children who live in households that are headed by their grandparents or other relatives and they deserve to access to support and resources just like other foster families.”

Under H.B. 2858, grant money through the PA Department of Human Services could used for administrative, civil legal services and other costs associated with a kinship caregiver retaining the services of a lawyer to ensure the safety and welfare of a child in their care, including, but not limited to, guardianship, adoption, power of attorney for medical and educational care, and mediation.

The proposal builds on Pashinski’s 2018 legislation creating temporary guardianship for grandparents when parents of children are unable to care for them due to substance use disorder, as well as his H.R. 390, which authorized a Joint State Government Commission study of the trends in Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. The commission has since reported its findings to the General Assembly, including the recommendation that the state “Educate grandparents and other close relatives on the full range of their legal options and improve their access to legal assistance.”

“Acts 88 and 89 of 2018, as well as the H.R. 390 report, were a tremendous start, but we continue to hear from grandparents and kinship caregivers struggling to access the resources they need and deserve as they take care of their family member’s children. These stories are supported by the commission’s recommendations and PA Family Support Alliance, who have both identified advancing legal custody for kin caregivers as an important next step for Pennsylvania policymakers – which is what our grant program would do.”

In addition to introducing H.B. 2858, Pashinski and the House Democratic Policy Committee will convene a hearing in Wilkes-Barre at 10 a.m. on Wednesday Sept. 28 to discuss the topic of grandparents raising grandchildren and what legislators in Harrisburg can to do to support these caregivers. The hearing will take place at Wilkes University's Henry Student Center, located at 84 W. South St. in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Contact policy@pahouse.net with any inquiries or Pashinski’s Wilkes-Barre Office at 570-825-5934.