Gov. Beshear Needs to Reverse Cuts to Kinship Care and Child Care Assistance

This post originally appeared as an op-ed in the Courier Journal on May 22, 2013. You can find it online here.

It was not as dramatic as scenes in Frankfort can be. There was neither a gallery of cameras nor the moment of confrontation between elected leaders. But on Tuesday, a very important event took place in Frankfort. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services held a public hearing regarding the recent cuts to kinship care and child care assistance programs, which are being enacted through emergency regulations. Not only will these cuts harm the youngest of Kentuckians and clobber the most vulnerable of working families among us but will actually cost more money to taxpayers down the road. In other words, these cuts are a lose-lose-lose proposition. Bad for kids. Bad for families. And bad for the Commonwealth’s bottom line.

Since April 1, families have been attacked in two ways. No new families have been able to receive child care assistance nor can they apply for the Kinship Care Program, which provides financial support to non-parental, relative caregivers, like grandparents. This stems from a decision by the Beshear administration to cut funding for both programs — a move that was expected to save only 0.4 percent of the state budget. The cuts threaten public safety, education, the health and development of children, and the stability of families in ways that will cost Kentucky for years to come.

While these cuts are being made to save money in the short term, they will most certainly cost taxpayers more money in the long term. Some parents, unable to access child care, will lose their jobs and turn to unemployment or welfare assistance. Families unable to receive help are often forced to use a patchwork of arrangements that do not provide the stability young children need. Research is clear that parents are more likely to work when they have reliable child care. Helping families pay for quality child care makes it more likely that they can get and keep a job. Again, these cuts cast a lose-lose-lose scenario for Kentucky. Kids and families lose. Economic development loses. And the state’s budget loses.

Along with the child care cuts, Kentucky’s kids are going to be harmed because kinship care is being slashed as well. When children experience trauma — be that because of abuse or a parent dying — they recover faster and rebound better with relatives than with strangers, even well-intentioned strangers. Children living with kin also have fewer behavioral and mental health problems and experience fewer educational disruptions. Yet, our kinship families who are stepping up to care for children are faced with extreme challenges. They are more likely to be poor, single, older, less-educated and unemployed than families in which at least one parent is present. Cuts to Kinship Care subsidies will make it harder for grandparents and other relatives to help kids recover from abuse or neglect and drive more kids into the foster care system.

In addition to eliminating critical supports that lead to better outcomes for children, these cuts will undoubtedly cost our state more in the long run. A kinship care subsidy for grandparents and other close relatives costs the state $10 a day, while the average payment for kids in the foster care system is $70 a day.

Budgets are about priorities. If the governor wants his action to match his rhetoric on early childhood … if the governor wants to help kids recover from abuse and neglect … if the governor believes that preserving family ties is a Kentucky value … then the governor needs to reverse these cuts and protect the thoughtful kinds of investments that supports for kinship care and child care represent. Our children and Kentucky’s future deserve better.

TERRY BROOKS
Executive Director
Kentucky Youth Advocates
Louisville 40299

Comments

  1. This is penny-wise and pound foolish.
    It will make economic recovery more difficult.
    It will make it more difficult for people to get and retain jobs, to support their families, and pay taxes.
    It will put children at risk, and will impede their school readiness.
    Why are we cutting funds that help children get ready for school, helps parents get and retain jobs, and helps get our economy moving again.
    This makes NO sense.

  2. My kinship care was just discontinued because I did not return a form in time!!! They said I can apply for s form of KTAP but it will be less than half the money!! If you have kinship care, make sure you keep it!!! If anyone knows of anyway to fight this, please share.

  3. I am a grandmother raising four grand kids. I do not understand why foster kids get a free ride to college and these kids do not get anything. If I hadn’t gotten custody they would be better off financially. Seems foolish, when KY wants everyone to get that college degree. Do you know why this is happening?

  4. I am a great grandmother an I see my daughter struggle to support my three great granddaughters she gets $169.00 a month food card for three kids and their mother on drugs had them taken away gets $200.00 on her food card the mother gets more than the three kids the government reward bad parenting I really don’t understand my daughter has lost her job an is on unemployment an wasn’t planning on raising three kids if they go to foster care the foster parent get paid don’t you think kids are better of with family that love them, I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!

  5. I’m in texas and still raising two grandkids after starting out with four. There was no kinship care eleven years ago when I started so no idea about that. However, we only get $130 per month total in child only tanf and $300 foodstamps. I quit my job to care for kids and husband is disabled. We live on 1200$ per month. They want to cut off foodstamps because the youngest is almost twelve. I have become increasingly ill after having cdifficile toxin and only weigh 90 lbs. I have no idea how they expect me to work or how they expect me to get medical tests to prove disability. We have saved the state hundreds of thousands of dollars yet our age is not considered. I am 59.

  6. Grandparents living in Kentucky (many of them retired & living on a fixed income) do not sit around making long-term financial plans to take care of their abused and/or neglected grandchildren. When called upon, on short notice, grandparents step-up and do what they can to help their grandchildren through a grave situation. On a moments notice, grandchildren move in with their grandparents and the grandparents take care of their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, and more—and many grandparents recieve little to no financial assistance from the Commonwealth. Dispite little or no help from the CHFS, if necessary, grandparents take care of their grandchildren until they become adults. On the other hand, temporary foster care takes into account that the caregiver is not capable of going-it-alone & the appropriate financial assistance is available and provided; otherwise, the foster caregiver would never agree to provide assistance!!! It appears that grandparents in Kentucky that are providing long-term care of their grandchildren are being taken advantage of by their elected officials and government employees that control the purse strings. Arguably, in Kentucky, the priority rests with foster care and not kinship care. It just doesn’t make any sense to grandparents that foster care gets priority over kinship care especially when kinship care reportedly costs the Commonwealth around $10 per day (per child) and foster care costs around $70 per day (per child)!!! Shame on our our leadership in Frankfort. It appears, that until our leaders fill the shoes of a grandparent caring for their grandchildren, they will remain clueless and heartless.

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