Fayette County

Relatives of abused kids now eligible for pay as foster parents. Here’s how to apply.

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Hundreds of Kentucky grandparents and other relatives who are caring for a child who has been abused or neglected can now receive monthly foster care payments thanks to a federal court ruling, state officials announced Tuesday.

In October 2017, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Kentucky must treat relatives who serve as foster parents the same as adults who serve as licensed foster parents. That ruling also said payments should go to close family friends who provide foster care for children who have been removed from the home due to abuse or neglect.

The family caregivers who sued the state have already begun receiving family care payments, which have been known as “kinship care” payments. The state now is expecting thousands of relative foster families to apply for the payments, which average about $750 per month, per child.

The state discontinued kinship care payments to new caregivers in 2013, citing budget constraints. Family and friend caregivers have previously urged state lawmakers to restore the program, pointing out that if they would be paid if they were strangers to the children.

Under the previous kinship care program, family members received $300 a month. Thanks to the federal ruling, kinship care payments will increase to mirror those received by licensed foster care parents.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services expects relatives of about 1,590 children to be eligible for the payments. State officials said the payments will cost $14.3 million in the first year and an additional $15.3 million the second year.

Cabinet officials said relative and family friend caregivers need to contact the cabinet to determine their eligibility. They can do so by calling 877-565-5608 or by emailing DCBSChildProtection@ky.gov. Specialists have been assigned to review cases to determine eligibility, officials said in a news release.

The ruling covers relatives or close family friends who are caring for a child who has been removed from the home by state child-protection workers. The caregiver must have had a background check and a home study.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the nonprofit has been flooded with phone calls from relatives since the original court ruling in April 2017. Brooks said he is thankful the state finally gave clear direction to relative caregivers after months of uncertainty. Many of those families are in desperate need of financial help, he said.

“We appreciate the cabinet providing instruction in their statement to families who may be eligible,” Brooks said. “This announcement is profoundly good news for Kentucky kids and families.”

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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