The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is today among many other states that can see what its grandparents are doing to help limit the damage of the opioid epidemic.
The Pennsylvania Bar Association says 100,000 children in the state live with other relatives instead of their parents. Pennsylvania children live with 88,000 grandparents who are the householders and responsible for the kids’ care.
In gratitude and out of need, the state is passing laws that help grandparents do their work. That includes changes to state custody laws.
Recent laws expand when grandparents can ask for custody
Pennsylvania has recently loosened the requirement for when a grandparent can ask for custody of the child.
Sometimes grandparents already have the grandchildren to take care of and the children’s parents have consented to this. The legal term for this is the grandparents are “in loco parentis,” meaning “in place of the parents.” This situation is the clearest and easiest to explain in which grandparents may ask for legal custody of their grandkids.
There are several other situations with more complex definitions. Very briefly, one of the parents must have been okay with the grandparent having a connection to the child. Plus, one of several serious legal troubles with the child’s parenting must have happened.
A handy brochure from the Bar Association can help explain more details, and so can a Pennsylvania attorney with expertise in the matter.
Resources are available and others are coming soon
Pennsylvania created a hotline that grandparents can call. The state says the people answering are prepared to help callers connect with resources grandparents need to help solve kinship care problems.
The hotline can also help with reaching out to other people with similar challenges raising grandchildren or other kinship care situations.
The state expects to expand the hotline into a website with more information that may be easier for many to use.