HARRISBURG – Wolf Administration cabinet officials from the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) on Thursday held an event at the Capitol to announce grant funding from the federal government awarded to Pennsylvania to support kinship navigator programs.
Pennsylvania was awarded $479,307 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to develop a kinship navigator program.
“In the roundtable discussions I’ve held with grandparents raising grandchildren as a result of the opioid crisis or other difficult situations, I have heard time and again how it can be difficult to navigate the system of services and supports,” Gov. Tom Wolf said.
“This grant will help us increase our support for grandparents, other family members and especially the children affected by these crises.”
“When a child is unable to live in a parent’s care, supporting family members that assume caregiving responsibilities of their grandchildren, nieces and nephews is often the best option to provide the child with a safe, healthy and loving home,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller.
“As these families adjust, they may need additional supports and resources. This funding makes progress toward establishing a statewide kinship navigator program that can be a resource and lifeline for children and relative caregivers around Pennsylvania.”
More and more children are living with their grandparents or other extended family members in order to maintain their connection with their family.
However, the financial and resource strains of assuming caregiving responsibilities of their relative’s child and emotional stress that may exist for both the child and their kin can create challenges.
Kinship navigators can help the caregivers and child to identify and access benefits and services that may be available.
As the commonwealth and country face the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic, kinship care is becoming more common, with grandparents often stepping in to fill the role of parents who are seeking treatment or die from the disease of addiction.
“The federal funding announced is a critical missing piece of combatting the opioid crisis,” said DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith.
“For grandparents raising grandchildren due to the opioid crisis, this funding will provide programs to assist them in finding and utilizing programs and services to support themselves and their grandchildren.
“As we continue our battle against the opioid crisis it is imperative that we build capacity in our systems to support all individuals affected. If we fail to provide the necessary supports now, we are jeopardizing the health and wellbeing of future generations.”
The secretaries were joined by Reps. Kathy Watson and Eddie Day Pashinski, who have advocated for greater support for grandparents raising grandchildren and other kinship families.
Watson and Pashinski sponsored House Bill 2133, which would establish a statewide kinship navigator program under DHS.
The bill passed the House and is currently under consideration by the Pennsylvania State Senate. Funding from the federal grant would cover part of the costs of establishing this program.
Visit here for more information on how the Wolf Administration is battled the opioid crisis.