Thursday, April 13, 2023
New changes to Kentucky’s temporary benefits program – known as KTAP – increase the amount of money families receive to keep pace with inflation.
The program, which provides direct cash support for Kentucky families living in deep poverty and kinship caregivers, hasn’t been updated since the late 1990s.
Norma Hatfield is president of the Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky, and a grandmother who’s been raising her two grandkids for the past eight years.
She said she’s advocated for thousands of other kinship caregivers who’ve stepped up to care for kids who have been removed from their home, most often due to parental drug use.
She said caregivers often have to make emergency purchases – such as cribs, baby clothes or car seats – when a child can’t live with their biological parents.
“I’m excited about this,” said Hatfield. “I’m thrilled. I’m so grateful. I know lots of families that are also grateful. There’s still a lot more that we can do. But this is a game changer for them right now.”
According to the Coalition, there are currently 96,000 Kentucky kids living in kinship care. At 9%, that’s the highest rate in the nation.
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friendlander noted that the program is funded through federal block grants – and said for families making less than nine thousand a year, the extra boost will help recipients meet basic needs for the kids in their household.
“A grandparent share, caring for one child,” said Friendlander, “would in the past, until we made changes, their maximum benefit would have been $186 a month. Now they’ll be able to receive $372 a month.”
Hatfield pointed out that as the opioid epidemic and fentanyl continue to ravage communities across the Commonwealth, grandparents and other family members continue to face worsening financial challenges taking on unanticipated child rearing.
“Grandparents that are in their 60s, 70s, some even in their 80s,” said Hatfield. “And they drain everything they have, their nest eggs, they go bankrupt, they’re doing everything that they can to keep these kids out of foster care and from going back into the system.”
Residents with questions about the new KTAP changes or who are interested in applying should contact the Department for Community Based Services’ hotline at 502-564-3440 or visit the online benefits portal at ‘kynect.ky.gov.’