Kentucky Family Caregiver Program benefits restored as more Kentucky grandparents accept guardian roles

Published 12:30 pm Friday, August 4, 2023

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By Sarah Ladd

Kentucky Lantern

More eligible people who are raising their grandchildren will receive benefits through the Kentucky Family Caregiver Program, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday.

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All 15 of the state’s Area Development Districts (ADD) will be able to participate in the program, Beshear said, thanks to an increase of federal funding. That’s up from two participating ADDs.

The program, established in 2006, was designed to support Kentuckians of any age who meet certain guidelines and are raising their grandchildren. Budget cuts during the last administration limited the program, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Interested grandparents can contact their nearest ADD to see if they qualify. Or, contact the Department for Aging and Independent Living in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“There are many loving grandparents” who work to keep children in the family, Beshear said. “And we are grateful that those grandparents are willing to step up and take on that responsibility.”

From 2020-2022, relatives raised 59,000 Kentucky kids, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation data. Kentucky grandparents cared for 58,000 of those youth in 2021.

“We want to make sure every Kentucky child is in a loving home that is stable, that puts them on the path to prosperity,” Beshear said.

Kentucky Family Caregiver Program benefits will be available to “grandparents of any age who are raising grandchildren who meet certain income and other guidelines.”

The news release from the governor’s office also credited Kentucky’s “record budget surpluses and the largest Rainy Day Fund in state history” for the ability to expand the benefits to more families.

Norma Hatfield, who is raising two grandchildren and is president of the Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky said in a statement, “There are so many grandparents that are living on very limited income before they take in their grandchildren.”

These grandparents, Hatfield said, “struggle silently with very little additional financial support to care for these kids, who have been traumatized and often abused and neglected.”

State lawmakers, Hatfield said, should also “make kinship care a priority” during the next session, which is a budget session.

“For grandparents meeting income and other guidelines, this one-time stipend program can support the expected and unexpected expenses that come with caring for a child,” Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said in a statement. “And as kids prepare to start a new school year, that can mean new shoes, school supplies or signing up for an extracurricular activity.”