Grandparents are raising their grandkids, and they need help

All cross Pennsylvania, grandparents are stepping up to provide care for their grandchildren as a result of the devastating opioid crisis or other difficult circumstances.

Op-Ed (Pennsylvania)

Robert Torres, Bill Johnston-Walsh
Express-Times (Lehigh Valley, PA)
September 26, 2019

Tags: Opioid Crisis

Organizations mentioned/involved: SeniorLaw Center (PA)


Fortunately, a law passed last year addresses one of the most important issues facing grandfamilies — temporary legal guardianship. Act 88 of 2018 allows temporary guardianship in 90-day increments for up to one year to grandparents or other family members when the child’s parents are not able to care for them. Temporary guardianship gives grandparents the right to make basic decisions, such as the ability to take a child to the doctor or enroll them in school.

Grandparents can even get free legal help navigating temporary custody issues. Pennsylvania’s SeniorLAW Center works statewide and has helped many older adults resolve custody issues. You can reach the SeniorLAW HelpLine at 1-877-727-7529. Additionally, thePennsylvania Legal Aid Network provides civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families. The network consists of nine regional legal aid programs that provide legal assistance to eligible clients and six specialized legal aid programs that provide legal services in specialized areas of law or to special groups of eligible clients, both available in all counties.

Other assistance is available for grandparents suddenly thrust into a caregiving role. Your local Area Agency on Aging is a great resource to find help, including applying for Pennsylvania’s Caregiver Support Program. Eligible families can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs, education, training, counseling, and more to alleviate the stresses associated with caregiving. AARP also offers a comprehensive online Caregiver Resource Center. You don’t need to be an AARP member to access the site, which offers free expert advice on everything from legal issues to caregiver support groups.