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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Governor Ducey wants to increase Arizona kinship care scholarship

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PHOENIX – In his final budget, Gov. Doug Ducey released his plan to significantly increase aid for those in Arizona who are raising children of a relative who has been removed from home due to abuse or neglect.

The $ 75 monthly grant funded by the state would increase to $ 300 to help formal kinship caregivers in cases where the Department of Child Safety (DCS) has placed children. Some families may also receive up to $ 165 a month from the federal Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families.

More than 6,700 children in Arizona are in foster care.

The increase in state funding is a change that grandparents and advocates for kinship care have been urging lawmakers to pass for several years.

Sherry Griffin, a community caregiver who also advocates for the community, said the increase would make a significant difference for families who never expected to have children, often with very little notice.

“Once they get to your house, often a child just comes with a bag of clothes, it doesn’t fit and it’s dirty or dirty,” Griffin said. “They need clothes for school, they need beds, they need food, they need diapers. Can you imagine having so many children placed with you with no place to put them all?”

Griffin said he knows families who have emptied their savings and retirement plans trying to keep children out of foster homes in the community.

State Representative Jeff Weninger (R-Chandler) on Friday introduced HB 2274 which raises the salary to $ 300 as Ducey’s proposal and would allocate money from the state’s general fund on an ongoing basis. The legislation also specifies that a foster parent should not apply for the scholarship in order to receive it.

Ducey’s budget also prioritizes streamlining the foster care process for kinship caregivers, but it was unclear how it would be done. Instead, he said DCS plans to review its licensing process, which would allow more kinship families to qualify.

Becoming a licensed foster parent is the only way for foster foster families to access the same financial assistance that community foster families receive, which is an average of $ 640 a month for child with state and federal funding.

But Griffin says the process is too cumbersome for kinship placements, which require specific sleeping arrangements, months of training and other expenses for families who already have children.

“If you live in a one-bedroom apartment, you have four children, how can you afford to move and move into a new apartment with the right number of rooms or to get a license?” said Griffin.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

“When we tell them our stories, that’s when they begin to understand how politics affects our families and laws and how they can change them to better suit children and their needs.”

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