Senator Dennis Parrett pre-files bill to re-establish kinship Care program for relatives caring for a child
Program would also save state money
FRANKFORT – Senator Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, has pre-filed legislation that could have an impact on today’s changing families and communities – and at the same time — save the state money.
“More and more we see grandparents raising their grandkids,” said Parrett. “Unfortunately, many of these grandparents – or aunts, uncles and siblings — are on fixed incomes. So now they have the extra burden of not just raising these kids and dealing with whatever issues with the parents that brought them there, but they find themselves coping with financial burdens.”
Parrett’s legislation (BR 247) would re-establish a program for kinship care to provide a more permanent placement with a qualified relative for a child, who would otherwise be placed in foster care due to abuse, neglect or the death of both parents. The bill directs that support services and case management services be provided to the kinship caregiver or the child.
“The reinstatement of Kinship Care for Kentucky is about providing assistance for children who have been displaced from their homes, most often due to neglect and abuse,” said Norma Hatfield, an advocate for Kinship Care. “Currently, there are approximately 70,000 children living with relatives and many of those kids are being raised by grandparents and great-grandparents. These are the families taking in as many as five to eight kids at one time and are the same children that would otherwise be in foster care.
“The Kinship subsidy is to help these children overcome the trauma’s that they have endured and to rebuild their lives with extended family,” Hatfield added. “These are the families that are desperately struggling to raise the people of our future. These are the families that need our help today and it starts with Kinship Care.”
Re-establishing this program and allocating this money would not just help these families with the financial struggles incurred by taking in these kids and providing them a home, but also makes financial sense for the state, Parrett explained.
The Kinship Care program, which provided about $300 in subsidies to defray costs associated with childcare, was placed on moratorium in 2013 with no new families and children accepted into the program. The average foster care placement cost the state approximately $70 a day per child compared to the $10 a day per child for kinship care.
“The foster care system does a great job, but when possible, it is more beneficial to have these kids with their own families,” Parrett explained. “We need to help provide a mechanism to ensure that these kids are in the best environment we can provide. I believe the best environment is most often with family. It just makes sense to have them with family members who love them and want to care for them, rather than putting them in the homes of strangers.”
BR 247 may be considered during the 2018 session, which begins Tuesday, January 2.
“This measure simply ensures that the relatives – grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings – who are raising these kids get some assistance for providing them with a permanent, safe home,” added Parrett. “We want to do what is best for these kids, but we do not want to put financial constraints on the families.”
Parrett filed similar legislation in 2017.
Parrett, who represents Hardin County and a portion of Jefferson County, has been a member of the Senate since 2011.