Friday, December 22, 2006

3350 foster families to benefit from payment increase

Foster parents will have to wait until 2007 to collect $3 a day more per child -
Budget gives caregivers first raise in seven years
Lexington Herald-Leader, April 24, 2006, pg. B3.

LOUISVILLE -- Kentucky foster parents who have gone without an increase in expense payments will get relief, but they will have to wait until July 2007.

The budget passed by the General Assembly includes a $3 increase in the daily allowance per child, which now stands at $20. Rates increase for children with special needs. It will have been seven years since the last increase in expense payments.

Several foster parents said the increase is welcome news, even if it won't come right away.

"Three dollars a day for 30 days is $90," said Shirley Hedges, who has five foster and two adopted children in her Madisonville home. "That will buy quite a few groceries -- quite a bit of milk."

Hedges, a former president of the state Foster Care Association, said her family goes through 10 to 12 gallons of milk each week and can spend $100 for an occasional dinner out.

Cindy Cushman of Louisville said her family's food and utility bills have increased since she and her husband began caring for foster children three years ago.

"A lot of the costs that every family has you just have more of," she said.

About 3,350 foster families in Kentucky will benefit from the foster-care increase in the two-year budget that begins July 1. The budget includes several other increases for human services.

B. Russell Harper, director of the state's largest nonprofit social service provider, said he's pleased with the money lawmakers have set aside for such things as foster care, supervised living for disabled adults and nursing home care.

"Of course there's still a lot of individuals out there who need services, but at least we're going forward," said Harper, of Christian Care Communities.

Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, said there wasn't enough money to start the foster-care expense increase this year. Nonetheless, the budget is "very, very good in the family-service area," said Lee, who served as chairman of the House human services budget subcommittee.

Cushman said the increased expense payments for foster families will help, but certainly won't help recruit the additional foster families she thinks are needed in the state.

"People don't do this for the money," Cushman said. "You have to really want to do this."


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