Watson’s Kinship Caregiver Navigator Bill Heads to State Senate
HARRISBURG – Receiving a vote in the state House on Tuesday, Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th) thanked her colleagues for overwhelmingly supporting three measures that would help grandparents who are the sole caregivers of their grandchildren. The bills now go to the state Senate for consideration.

“For many generations, grandparents have lovingly taken on the role of raising their grandchildren for many different reasons and circumstances,” said Watson, chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee. “However, the rise of the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania and all across the nation has increased the number of grandparents who take on this role, because the children’s parents are unable to care for the children due to addiction, incarceration or death.”

Among the bills passing the House today was Watson’s House Bill 2133, which would establish the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program. This informational resource for these grandparents 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.

This bill is part of a package designed to help grandparents. That package includes House Bill 1539, which would grant temporary guardianship to grandparents when the parents of the grandchildren are unable to care for them primarily due to substance abuse issues; and House Resolution 390, which would study the trend of grandfamilies in Pennsylvania and report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly. 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. Both measures are sponsored by Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne).

An estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for the nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania.

“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,” Watson said, noting that this relationship 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, and this saves taxpayers money by keeping them out of the foster system. As a result, we should be able to help connect them with the resources they need.”

Representative Kathy Watson
144th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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

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