Norma Hatfield plans to walk the halls of the state capitol every week during the regular session this year to advocate for kinship care.
Hatfield, an Elizabethtown grandparent, has championed the cause for several years and will speak Jan. 19 at the capitol for Family Advocacy Day. Kinship Care provides financial assistance to relatives caring for a child who is not their own and ended in 2013.
She attended the advocacy day last year for the first time and plans to speak about her experience being an advocate.
Hatfield has collected statements of support and stories from grandparents who are raising children. She said she has 5,200 letters and plans to distribute them to each state senator and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Last year, she did something similar and hand-delivered a packet to Bevin.
“We’re building momentum and understanding,” she said.
Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, has sponsored Senate Bill 31, which would restore Kinship Care. He proposed a similar bill in 2017, but the legislation did not receive a hearing.
“Sen. Parrett has stepped up,” she said. “I’m grateful for his commitment to the families of Kentucky and grateful that he has not given up.”
Hatfield said she’s hoping the bill will have a hearing this year. On Jan. 3, the bill was referred to the Health and Welfare committee.
“Numbers have increased since then and are not going down,” she said. “They’ve got to do something for families.”
She said as the opioid epidemic continues to affect families, it’s more important for lawmakers to help children.
Hatfield has been raising her granddaughter for three years because drugs were found in a home where the girl lived.
“People need to understand that kinship care is about providing assistance to children who have lost their homes,” she said. “It’s important to make sure that we’re showing that we care for kids of Kentucky and doing right. The kids are victims of drug crisis.”
SB 31 does not specify how much a caregiver would receive through Kinship Care, but before the program ended, relatives received about $300 a month.
When Parrett prefiled the bill in October, he said Kinship Care made financial sense for the state. According to the release, the average foster care placement costs the state about $70 a day per child compared to the $10 a day per child for kinship care.
By Katherine Knott
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