Governor Doug Ducey signed Rep. Jeff Weninger’s bill on Wednesday that increases the monthly stipend paid to grandparents and close relatives raising children in kinship care.
The bill, H.B. 2274, will increase kinship stipends from $75 a month to $300 a month. It pairs with a bill the governor signed, H.B. 2084, which allows the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) to create a swift pathway to licensure for kin. Caregivers who are licensed will have the same level of financial support as foster care providers.
“Raising the kinship stipend is so important for Arizona families,” said Weninger. “Having a familial relationship at home sets our kids on the right path and eases the transition for reunification. Too many selfless grandparents and close family members couldn’t afford to be kinship caregivers. Now, we’ll help keep these families together. Thank you to Governor Ducey for his long-standing support for kinship and foster families.”
Kinship families are extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, who become caregivers for a child when a child enters into Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) care due to abuse or neglect. These kinship homes are often familiar and a loving place for children and can be less traumatic for a child than being placed in an unfamiliar location.
“For more than a decade, Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors and Kinship Caregivers have told our stories of the challenges and joys of raising relative children when their parents cannot,” said Ann Nichols, chair of the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors and Kinship Caregivers. “This year, thanks to the championship of Governor Ducey and the support of the legislature, our advocacy was successful in increasing stipends for foster children placed with kin from $75 per month to $300—a true investment in strengthening kinship families.”
The fiscal year 2023 budget includes additional support for foster and kinship families, including:
A doubling of the monthly independent living stipend for young adults who age out of the foster care system and voluntarily participate the program;
$10 million to create a Foster Youth Transitional Housing program on the campus of the East Valley Institute of Technology;
Increased funding for Arizona Healthy Families Program to help keep children safely in their homes; and
An expansion of the Qualified Foster Care Tax Credit to include programs that help youth transitioning out of foster care. The credit is also indexed to inflation to ensure that its value is not diminished each year.