We’ve made a lot of progress over the past two years to ensure that our state’s most vulnerable children find warm homes and loving families.
Investigative backlogs at the Arizona Department of Child Safety are down significantly. Placement times are down. For the first time in seven years, more children are exiting state care than are entering it—and Arizonans who stepped up the plate deserve the credit.
This year, we’re looking to do even more.
Governor Ducey announced during his 2017 State of the State address that we’ll be looking at new ways to support grandparents and other extended family members who raise younger relatives as their own. One of those ways: providing a stipend to family members who make that sacrifice —
One way we can help is by recognizing those who take in children in their own extended family. Aunts, uncles. Grandfathers and grandmothers, who raise these children as their own. This is often a better option for a child than going to an unfamiliar family. But unlike other foster families, these family members receive little assistance for taking in their nephew or grandchild.
So let’s change that, with a “Grandmother Stipend”—providing these families with resources to raise these children.
The governor’s Executive Budget for fiscal year 2018 makes targeted investments to make that happen.
This new investment is in addition to existing foster and kinship supports. It calls for adding new funds that will be available to kinship families with the greatest financial need. By helping ease the financial burden on kinship caregivers (nearly half of which are grandparents), we’re able to help vulnerable children remain with family.
It’s really pretty simple. Here’s how it works:
Families Step Up To The Plate. When the Arizona Department of Child Safety finds that a child is no longer safe in his or her parent’s home, extended family members will often take that child under their wing.
We Are Making More Resources Available to Them. Extended family members almost always want to help vulnerable children. But, due to financial limitations and other factors, sometimes they just can’t afford to take on another dependent.
Last year, we eliminated the “grandmother penalty,” which was keeping children of kinship families from receiving much-needed support. This year, we are taking another step. While foster parents receive a stipend to alleviate the cost of taking on a new dependent, extended family members, like grandparents who care for their grandchildren, do not qualify for the same resources. The governor’s budget calls for additional resources to be focused on those kinship families with the most financial need.
Let’s pass this “grandmother stipend,” help loving families stay together, and empower kinship caregivers across Arizona to do what they do best.
It’s the right thing to do.