On August 30, 2018 the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources received a Kinship Care update by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services- Department for Community Based Services. Testimony provided by Eric Clark, Commissioner, Department for Community
Based Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Elizabeth Caywood, Deputy Commissioner, Department for Community Based Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and Lesa Dennis, Chief of Staff, Department for Community Based Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The purpose of the kinship update was to alleviate confusion surrounding kinship care in Kentucky to reveal kinship care is much more than the Kinship Care Program. “Moratorium [on the Kinship Care Program] was a promise we would build something better. We have not yet delivered on that promise”- Elizabeth Caywood.
Kinship Care Program (KCP)
In September 1999, KCP began offering financial assistance (i.e., $300/child/month up to a max of $1,800 for six or more children) to facilitate the placement of maltreated children, or children dependent due to the death of both parents, with qualified relatives as an alternative to foster care.
KCP was funded then, and remains funded now, through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) Block Grant.
In State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2012, expenditures began to exceed $40M annually. The program saw an average monthly increase of 200 children per month, the difference between entries and exits.
On April 1, 2013, due to a projected shortfall of approximately $86 million, CHFS implemented a moratorium on new kinship care approvals.
Those already in the program as of April 1, 2013, continue to receive the benefits as long as they continue to meet the eligibility requirements.
Kinship Care Program: Pre- and Post-Moratorium
Number of Recipients (Children)- 11,476
Annual Benefits Cost (SFY 2012)-$42,909,729
Eric Clark stated many of the funds that used to go to the Kinship Care Program pre-moratorium were absorbed into other DCBS programs when the Cabinet experienced budget cuts. Elizabeth Caywood attributes the decrease in number of recipients to children aging out, relatives not re-applying for the program, relatives losing eligibility for the program, or children being placed back with their parents.
D.O. v. Glisson
The U.S. Court of Appeals entered the ruling on January 27, 2017. The state’s appeal to U.S. Supreme Court was denied on October 10, 2017.
The ruling treated the relative caregiver like foster parent, because CHFS placed the child with the relative (i.e., conducted a home study and background checks), and the child’s custody was transferred from CHFS’ to the temporary custody of the relative.
Under the ruling, the relative caregiver was deemed qualified for a foster care per diem for the care of the child.
In the D.O. case, the qualification for the foster care per diem ceased upon permanent custody established using a DNA-9 form.
DCBS has extended the application of the ruling to other like cases, including fictive kin.
D.O. v. Glisson Update
As of August 10, 2018:
DCBS has received 23,137 inquiries. These inquiries include duplicates.
1,012 relatives/fictive kin have been notified of eligibility.
For June, payments were made to 516 children. For July, payments were made to 748 children.
Since November 2017, payments have totaled $2,619,165.27. This excludes pending invoices and invoices not yet submitted by caregivers, child care assistance, special expenses, clothing vouchers, Medicaid, legal services, staffing, technology, and call services costs.
DCBS projects $8.5-9M in foster care per diems under the ruling for the state fiscal year.
A clear answer was not provided on the status of the roughly 22,000 other unanswered inquiries. It was noted that DCBS has 45 days to respond to the inquiries. The screening for D.O. v. Glisson eligibility: inquiry through hotline or caseworker, DCBS must have had custody of the child, home-study and background checks, and relative must have temporary custody.
Opportunities from 2018 Regular Session
On the Horizon: Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) (Pub. L. 115-123)
On February 9, 2018, the FFPSA was enacted.
The state will be able to use federal Title IV-E funds for a portion or share of evidence-based prevention services and programs. Historically, these funds have been utilized for foster care maintenance and adoption assistance.
Standards or criteria for the prevention services/programs and requirements affecting foster care maintenance payments are attached to the option.
State funds must also be available to cover costs not associated with the federal share/portion.
States can opt in as early as October 1, 2019, but all states must comply by October 1, 2021.
Kentucky is going FIRST! Kentucky plans to be in compliance by October 1, 2019
The Family First Prevention Services Act offers a new opportunity given the change in federal funding streams for child welfare to go toward prevention services programs. In regards to kinship care, the Cabinet believes this opens opportunities for improved programs/ services rather than cash assistance.
Child Welfare Transformations
There are 9 work groups. There is a relative support work group.
Relative and Fictive Kin Caregiver Supports
2017- Engagement of Annie E. Casey, Child Welfare Strategy Group (Casey)
Winter/Spring 2018- Casey assessment of KY’s system
July 2018- State application for Kinship Navigator Funds (KNF)
August 2018- Release of Casey assessment, recommendations
Summer/Fall 2018- Engagement of stakeholders, development of training and technology, submission of administrative regulations, State Plan amendments
Fall/Winter 2018/2019- Federal approval of State Plan amendments, KNF award, staff training, technology deployment
Late winter/Early spring 2019- Full implementation
Elizabeth Caywood stated the creation of a menu of services for relative caregivers is the goal.
Budget for the Kinship Care Program
Demand: Estimate of 15,000 children per year
Benefit: $300/month plus Medicaid and other supportive services
Estimated Cost: $54M - $15M (present day) = $39M per year
HB 200 (2018RS):
Funds from 2018RS are being used to help supplement D.O. v. Glisson cases and other services available to kinship caregivers. The current cost of Kentucky Foster Care accounts for 50% of DCBS’ budget at $500M. The Budget Review committee noted they would like to see a cost-comparison for KY foster care and the Kinship Care Program.
Relative Services Available Today Through DCBS
Resource Linkage and Referral through Kinship Care Hotline
Relative Placement Support Benefit;
Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program or K-TAP(includes Medicaid);
Child Care Assistance Program;
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
D.O. v. Glisson; and
Approval as foster parent
The Cabinet requests relative caregivers access services using the Kinship Support Hotline. Call (877) 565-5608 or by email DCBSChildProtection@ky.gov.