WILKES-BARRE, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne recently spoke at the 12th Annual Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference, themed “Generations of Love,” and sponsored by the NEPA Intergenerational Coalition and Pittston Memorial Library.
Grandparents, relative 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.”
Following Secretary 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.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Aging
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