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Senate Approves Bill To Boost Kinship Foster Care Stipend

Published: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 8:23am
Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 9:03am

A long-running legislative effort to boost state aid for kinship foster care may finally be picking up steam.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Lela Alston (D-Phoenix) that would more than triple the dollars provided to relatives of foster kids when those children are placed in their care.

Republicans and Democrats alike supported the bill by a 29-1 margin. Sen. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Mesa) cast the lone vote against the measure.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have spent years offering legislation to increase the stipend to no avail. 

The Department of Child Safety now provides kinship foster parents $75 per child placed in their care, far less than the more than $600 per child given to other foster parents. Alston’s proposal would boost those funds to $250 per child.

Alston has said that will make a dramatic difference for relatives who are taking in children under often extraordinary and difficult circumstances, while still serving as a cost-effective option compared to placing those children with unrelated foster parents.

“That’s still a small amount and a great savings to the state if our children are not put in regular foster care, and that children who are placed with families have much better outcomes,” Alston said during a February hearing.

Though approved by the Senate, Alston’s legislation still needs the approval of the House and Gov. Doug Ducey. The governor signaled his support for boosting the kinship care stipend during his State of the State Address in January, though his budget proposal suggested doubling the stipend from $75 to $150.

That would cost an estimated $5 million a year, far less than what Alston’s bill would require.