Grandparent Rights: HB 1539 & HB 2133 in PA
In 2018, more than 3.0 million children are living with grandparents who are responsible for their care. Yet, even though grandparents assume full responsibility for their grandchildren, they often don’t have full legal backing. Grandparents are often not eligible for a lot of the benefits and help given to traditional parents or even foster parents. This often creates a quagmire in legal, financial and health care issues for Silver Sagers providing care to their little loved ones.
The simple things that parents do to help their children that grandparents cannot do such as taking a child to the doctor, enrolling a child in school or accessing educational documents – make it frustrating for those grandparents with the responsibility of raising or helping to raise their grandchildren.
HB 1539 will provide a way for grandparents to obtain temporary guardianship to give them the legal right to do some of the basic help that children need. HB 1539 also protects the parental rights of parents and the needs of the child to be with loving grandparents.
Unfortunately, this bill did not pass the Senate before they convened for the summer session. However, your voice makes a difference. Contact your local representatives and let them know you support this bill currently in Pennsylvania.
HB 2133 is a program called Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program to provide grandparents who are not being served by the child welfare system with guidance and information about services and support available to them. The Department of Human Services will contract with an entity that will administer this program.
Under the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program, individuals will be hired and trained as Kinship Caregiver Navigators, who can assist grandparents by providing education and support about federal and state programs, financial aid, legal aid, respite services for caregivers, and other support services for children. These Navigators will be able to facilitate contact between the caregivers and applicable state, federal, and local agencies.
Grandparents or other family members who are raising their grandchildren can speak with a Navigator by calling a toll-free telephone number. The program will offer a web site that provides information and resources for kinship caregivers.
Grandparents who find themselves in this situation face a range of emotional, financial, legal and daily living challenges as they deal with raising their grandchildren. Unexpectedly, they find themselves in a position of raising a second family. Often they are unsure of where to turn for assistance. Establishing the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program would provide a valuable resource for those grandparents in need of information and support.
Call your representatives in Pennsylvania and get this passed when the Senate returns in the Fall! If your state doesn’t have the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program or the Temporary Guardianship Program – call your senators today and find out why!
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