By Elizabeth J. Billies | Esquire

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage many communities around the country, including those in Pennsylvania.  As a result, many of the Commonwealth's children are being raised by family members and not their parents struggling with addiction.

Those custodial relationships are often informal and not memorialized by any court order. This can be because the parents are reluctant to relinquish legal custody of their children to another without an end date. As such, these family members have difficulty obtaining benefits for these children as they do not have actual legal rights to them, causing financial strain on the family members and denying these children access to medical and education services that they desperately need. 

On October 23, 2018, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that would assist those family members, particularly grandparents, by allowing them to obtain temporary guardianship (in three month increments) of such children, thus providing them with access to benefits only afforded to those who have actual legal guardianship.  Governor Wolf also signed a second bill which would give these guardians access to kinship benefits which can assist them in providing financial resources and other services. 

Click here for NBC10's coverage of this bill, which includes a link to the legislation.