Watson’s Kinship Caregiver Navigator Bill for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Passes Committee
HARRISBURG – Legislation that would better connect grandparents who are the sole caregivers for their grandchildren to support and resources was reported out of the House Children and Youth Committee today, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th).

“Many resources – public and private – are available to help families, but for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, they may not know they even exist or are fearful of turning to the child welfare system for assistance,” said Watson, who serves as chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee. “Often, grandparents are so busy raising this second family and dealing with a wealth of additional challenges that they do not have the time or ability to scour websites or try numerous hotlines to find a program or service that may help them. This navigator program will better connect them to what’s out there without the fear their grandchildren may be taken away from them.”

House Bill 2133, which passed the committee overwhelmingly, would establish the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program – an informational resource for these grandparents, 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.

“These grandparents are doing us as taxpayers a tremendous service by keeping these children out of the foster care system, and that’s why we’re seeking to make this process easier for them,” Watson added.

Her legislation was one of three measures reported out of committee today. Two others, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne), would grant temporary guardianship to grandparents when the parents of the grandchildren are unable to care for them primarily due to substance abuse issues (House Bill 1539), and study the trend of grandfamilies in Pennsylvania and report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly (House Resolution 390). The study would be conducted by the Joint State Government Commission and would include a focus about how the opioid crisis is impacting this growing trend.

An estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for the nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania. That number is increasing due to the devastating opioid crisis across the Commonwealth. Research has shown that keeping children with family when they are unable to remain with a parent is best for their physical, emotional and mental well-being. This reduces the trauma the children experience and helps them develop better bonds with those around them. Children thrive in these families because they provide stability and permanence.

Representative Kathy Watson
144th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
KathyWatson144.com / Facebook.com/RepWatson

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