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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: May 19, 2017 03:05 PM
From: Representative Eddie Day Pashinski
To: All House members
Subject: Guardianship for grandparents
In 2005, 2.5 million children were living with grandparents who were responsible for their care. As of 2015, that number increased to 2.9 million. Grandparents often assume full responsibility for the children in their care and must deal with what is a gray area in our legal system. They are not eligible for many of the benefits and assistance given to traditional parents or foster parents and as such, often struggle to provide for the grandchildren under their care.

For this reason, in the near future I will be introducing legislation aimed at helping grandparents assume a guardianship role of their grandchildren. Though this is an issue that needed attention long ago, the opioid epidemic has pushed the need for grandparents to take care of grandchildren to the forefront and my bill will address an often overlooked aspect of this crisis: children of persons who suffer from addiction.

There are many times when a person who needs treatment or enters an inpatient facility is the parent of minor children. In many cases, that person is the only parent who has provided for the child, financially and emotionally. The needs of those children are constant and, as those of us who are parents realize, can become overwhelming. In many cases, grandparents of children are ready and willing to provide for the needs of their grandchildren while the parent goes to rehabilitation. However, there can be roadblocks which hinder the ability of grandparents to do so.

Things we sometimes take for granted, such as the ability to enroll a child in school or take the child to the doctor, can be made more difficult when there is a lack of legal documentation that a person has the power to make some of these basic decisions. This bill will provide a way for grandparents to obtain temporary guardianship, i.e. legal right to make some of these basic decisions. It does so while protecting both the parental rights of parents, including those suffering from opioid addiction, and the needs of the child to be with loving family members, rather than be placed in foster care or other arrangement with strangers, both of which are costly both emotionally and financially.

Introduced as HB1539