BILL #    SB 1148

TITLE:     kinship foster care; stipend

SPONSOR:    Bradley

STATUS:   As Introduced

PREPARED BY:    Patrick Moran






The bill would establish a $150/month stipend for kinship caregivers that 1) are not currently receiving full foster care benefits or TANF benefits, 2) have cared for a child in out-of-home care for more than 1 year, and 3) have an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.


Estimated Impact


Based on current caseloads for the existing kinship stipend program, the JLBC Staff estimates that 700 to 945 children in kinship care would qualify their caregivers for the $150 stipend at a state cost of $630,000 to $850,000. This estimate assumes, in accordance with the sponsor's intent, that conforming changes would be made to the General Appropriation Act to ensure that the $150 stipend supplants rather than supplements the existing $75 stipend.  If such conforming changes were not made, the estimated cost would increase to $1.26 million to $1.70 million.


DCS estimates that the bill would generate a maximum of $4.3 million in additional costs for the department.  The department assumed that the $150 stipend would be paid in addition to the existing $75 stipend and estimated significantly higher enrollment (approximately 2,400 recipients).  Based on current enrollment, the JLBC Staff believes that the department's estimate likely overstates the actual program cost.




State law requires that DCS place children in out-of-home care in the least restrictive type of placement consistent with the needs of the child.  As a result, statute establishes a preference for placement with kin, including a parent, grandparent, a member of the child's extended family, or someone who has a significant relationship with the child.  Kinship caregivers that become licensed are eligible for a full foster care cash subsidy (known as a "maintenance" payment) while unlicensed caregivers may either apply for TANF Cash Benefits (up $164/month for one child) or a state-funded Kinship Stipend (up to $75/month per child).  All kinship caregivers are eligible to receive personal and clothing allowances ranging from $0.63/day to $2.63/day depending on the age of the child.


The bill would establish a new $150/month stipend for unlicensed kinship caregivers that are not receiving foster care maintenance subsidies or TANF Cash Benefits, have cared for a child in out-of-home care for at least 1 year, and have an income at or below 200% FPL.  The existing $75/month Kinship Stipend has the same eligibility criteria, except that its availability is not contingent on the amount of time spent in out-of-home care.


The bill does not explicitly prohibit receipt of both the existing $75/month Kinship Stipend and the new $150/month stipend, as the $75/month footnote is established in a General Appropriation Act footnote instead of in statute.  Based on information from the sponsor, however, the intent of the legislation is to increase the existing $75 stipend to $150 for qualifying caregivers, instead of paying both the stipend and the new stipend (or $225 total) to eligible families.  Kinship caregivers that are eligible for the existing $75 stipend, but not the proposed $150 stipend would continue to receive $75/month under either scenario.  Our analysis assumes that changes would be made to the General Appropriation Act footnote to conform to the sponsor's intent to increase the existing stipend from $75 to $150 for caregivers stipulated in the bill.




In FY 2017, a monthly average of 823 grandparent caregivers received the kinship stipend.  The FY 2018 General Appropriation Act extended eligibility for the program to all kinship caregivers meeting the financial eligibility criteria, which should increase enrollment in the program in FY 2018 and thereafter.  As a result, by November 2017, the caseload in the program had increased to approximately 2,100 recipients. 


DCS has previously reported that 1/3 of children in kinship care have resided in out-of-home care for more than 1 year.  The department has indicated that more recent data suggests that as many as 45% of children have been in kinship care for at least one year. As a result, based on current caseload in the Kinship Stipend program, there would be between 700 children and 945 children eligible for the $150 stipend.  Based on that caseload range, the annual cost of increasing the stipend from $75/month to $150/month for children would be $630,000 to $850,000.  If the existing stipend were established in the General Appropriation Act remained unchanged, the $150 stipend would instead supplement the existing $75 stipend, for a total payment of $225.  In that circumstance, the cost would be $1.26 million to $1.70 million.


DCS estimates that the bill would generate $4.3 million in additional costs for the department.  In addition to assuming that the $150 stipend would supplement rather than supplant the existing $75 stipend, DCS also assumes there would be approximately 2,400 recipients.  The department's enrollment estimate is likely high, as it exceeds current enrollment in the Kinship Stipend program.


Local Government Impact