Access to cash is essential for families to handle everyday expenses and endure emergencies. It is especially important for very low income families who may not have the resources and savings needed when big purchases and unplanned expenses arise, such as a broken bone, car repairs, or school supplies. The Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP) is a vital support for families living below the Federal Poverty Line, providing this cash support alongside the training and education necessary to get a well-paying job.
While K-TAP is critical for our most vulnerable families, many of the regulations are decades old. In recent years, states such as Tennessee have taken significant steps to modernize and strengthen their cash support benefits. Following the suit of these states, the Department of Community Based Services (DCBS) has filed several regulations to modernize the program:
- Double the K-TAP benefit amount to better reflect cost of living and inflation. The current benefit level has not been adjusted since 1990.
- Increase K-TAP’s income and asset limits, so more low income families can access the program. The increase in income limits would allow a family of four who makes up to $1,315 a month to qualify for K-TAP. Families would also be able to have up to $10,000 in assets, which is particularly important for relative caregivers who may be raising children off of retirement income.
- Make it easier for two parent households to participate by getting rid of the deprivation factor, which currently requires two parent households to be unable to work for medical reasons or make less than $1,000 a year.
- Allow K-TAP to be used for necessary health care costs such as glasses, dentures, and hearing aids.
- Improve the Family Alternative Diversion program to better meet the needs of families who need short-term, emergency cash support. Improvements include increasing the benefit amount and income limit, as well as allowing families to participate in the program more than twice in a lifetime.
- Improve the Work Incentive Program to address the benefits cliff and support a smooth transition off of K-TAP.
- Improve the Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) by increasing the income limit, allowing families to access the program multiple times, and allowing families facing homelessness to access the program.
- Better support the needs of Cuban and Haitian immigrants by allowing individuals in the Cuban and Haitian Entrants Program to participate in K-TAP before their work visa is in place and participate in the Office of Refugee Resettlement work program instead of the Kentucky Works Program.
All of the above regulations have been filed and are currently in the comment period process. These changes would make the K-TAP program more accessible to Kentucky families that need it, while also providing families with more avenues to financial independence. Kentucky Youth Advocates will continue to monitor these regulation changes and provide updates to advocates as they become available.