Wilkes-Barre, PA – Today, Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Teresa
Osborne spoke at the 12th Annual Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference,
themed “Generations of Love,” and sponsored by the NEPA Intergenerational
Coalition and Pittston Memorial Library.
caregivers, and professional social service personnel were in attendance to
hear from multiple speakers and panels with knowledge of issues relative to
grandparents raising their grandchildren. NEPA Intergenerational Coalition
Chair Howard J. Grossman offered opening remarks and introduced Secretary
Osborne, who discussed the Wolf Administration’s role and investment in meeting
the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren.
“One of the worst effects
of the opioid crisis is that more and more grandchildren are living without
their parents present, and it’s the grandparents who are stepping in to care
for their grandchildren while their own child battles substance abuse,” said
Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “What begins as a temporary situation, often
results in a full-time arrangement and we need to ensure that Pennsylvania’s
grandparents are supported and have access to resources that will help them as
they parent for the second time around.”
Osborne’s presentation, the event’s keynote speaker, Honorable Judge Jennifer
Rogers of Luzerne County, offered attendees insight on her experiences as a
family court judge working firsthand with grandparents adjusting to the role of
sole caregiver for their grandchildren.
After hearing reports from
the Luzerne and Lackawanna County AAAs and having time to visit participating
vendor tables offering information and available services, the audience heard
from a Knowing Your Resources panel, including representatives from the Family
Service Association of NEPA, Children’s Service Center, and the Pennsylvania
Victims Compensation Assistance Program.
Next, State Representative
Eddie Day Pashinski shared legislative updates, specifically regarding his
grandparents bill, House Bill 1539. This bill was recently passed by the
legislature and provides grandparents
or other adult family members an opportunity to petition for temporary
guardianship in 90-day increments not to exceed one year when the parents of
the child are unable to care for them due to alcohol or opioid addiction.
A second panel followed
with a focus on the legal facets of grandparents raising their grandchildren
and touched on legislative aspects as well. The panel featured five lawyers,
including an attorney from Senator Bob Casey’s office, and opened up for
questions from the audience.
An estimated 82,000
grandparents are the sole caregivers for nearly 89,000 grandchildren in
Pennsylvania. That number is increasing due to the devastating opioid crisis.
Pennsylvania’s House Children and Youth Committee estimates that Pennsylvania
grandparents are saving the state at least an estimated $1 billion per year by
keeping their grandchildren out of the foster care system.
The Wolf Administration remains
committed to helping Pennsylvanians dealing with the opioid crisis. For more
information on the state’s efforts, visit www.pa.gov/opioids.
CONTACT: Drew Wilburne, 717-705-3702