In a rare bipartisan effort and after making its way through a full vote in the state Senate and House committees, a bill to help grandparents raising their grandkids is just steps away from becoming law.
SB 1090, called the Grandparent’s Stipend, would provide $75 monthly to a grandparent or great-grandparent for each child placed in their care by Child Protective Services or a legal guardian through a court order, if their income is below the 200 percent federal poverty level.
“Each legislator that we’ve talked to personally knows someone who is a grandparent raising a grandchild,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “People are seeing the impacts and the tough circumstances that bring people into that situation and at the four hearings, there has been tremendous praise from the legislators thanking the grandparents for stepping up and doing this, and thanking them for bringing this issue forward and for communicating.”
The grandparents have taken this over as their project Wolfe Naimark said. They’ve been the spokespeople, messengers and “advocates for why this bill is needed.”
The Children’s Action Alliance states there are 60,000 children in the state being raised by grandparents or other relatives for part of their childhood.
SB 1090 is meant to fill in some of the gaps and applies to a subset of grandparents raising grandchildren. It includes an application process with the Department of Economic Security.
Grandfamilies of three people with a yearly income below $38,200 and grandfamilies of four with income below $46,100 a year, can qualify for the stipend, and they must be legally present in the U.S.
A grandparent licensed as a foster parent, getting welfare benefits, getting other financial benefits or in an informal arrangement cannot receive the stipend.
Wolfe Naimark isn’t concerned about it passing the House after going through four committees. “What has been really been so rewarding and wonderful to watch, is really great awareness and interest among the lawmakers.
Wolf Naimark said things are being slowed in the House because Gov. Jan Brewer wants Medicaid and her other priorities taken care of first.
The bill doesn’t have funding attached to it and needs those funds to be appropriated in the DES budget.
Legislators need to put money in the budget for the bill to make it happen. She said the hard part will be getting the money appropriated. “It takes the community telling legislators this is a priority.”
Children’s Action Alliance is an advocacy organization with a voice for children and families which lobbies at the state Legislature, and SB 1090 is one of the bills being supported by the organization.
For information, 602-266-0707 or visit www.azchildren.org.