Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance Praises Passage of Bills to Protect Children

Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) President and CEO Angela M. Liddle, MPA, praised state lawmakers for passing two important pieces of legislation this week that will help grandparents raising grandchildren, particularly those who are doing so because of the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemic. This week, the PA State Senate approved HB 1539 sponsored by State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski to provide temporary emergency guardianship and HB 2133 sponsored by State Rep. Kathy Watson that creates a Kinship Caregiver Navigator program in the PA Department of Human Services. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign both bills. PFSA has lobbied extensively for the legislation and convened a Listening Tour this fall in Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre, and Pittsburgh featuring grandparents raising their grandchildren and members of Gov. Wolf’s cabinet.  

“Today, our hearts are full of gratitude and our spirits are lifted as lawmakers listened to the heartbreaking stories of grandparents who have sacrificed everything to provide for the safety and well-being of their grandchildren. Lawmakers not only listened, but they also acted and passed two new measures that provide a measure of relief to grandfamilies in these complex situations.

“One of the biggest hurdles grandparents face when they first step in to care for the grandchildren — often with very little notice and in dire circumstances — are legal issues surrounding custody and guardianship of the child. Rep. Pashinski has been a relentless champion for temporary guardianship to remove that barrier to care for these children. 

“Coupled with the legal entanglements is the challenge of figuring out whether there are local, state, and federal resources to assist in raising the children and providing for their child care, health care, transportation, schooling, and life’s necessities. That’s where a Kinship Caregiver Navigator program can be indispensable as a one-stop resource for all of that information and assistance. Rep. Watson, who retires at the end of this session, is a tremendous champion for children. This legislation is a fitting capstone to her remarkable career of service to families in Pennsylvania.

“We thank all of the grandparents across the state who shared their inspiring stories with us and who fought successfully for this legislation. And we thank Gov. Wolf for his commitment to sign these measures into law. Together, we can protect Pennsylvania’s children from abuse and neglect and put them on a path to a brighter, healthier, and safer future.”