Thousands of Connecticut children are living with someone charged with caring for them because their parents cannot. Now the state is expanding a program designed to help cover the unexpected cost of raising someone else’s kids.
The Kinship & Respite Grant program is run by the state’s probate courts. Officials say for many of the kids, these relatively small amounts of money are the difference between living with someone they know and trust or the foster care system.
Bernice Hobby is the court-appointed guardian for her two grandchildren, Emmanuel and Hezekiah. She said it can be hard on her, and the program eases the struggle.
“It makes me emotional,” Hobby said.
As the probate court-appointed guardian, Bernice receives small grants every year, which help with everything from the gas bill to fixing their car.
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to function,” Hobby told NBC Connecticut
In nearly 20 years with the probate courts, Probate Court Administrator Paul Knierim said he’s seen the kinship and respite grants they provide make it possible for low-income family members to accept responsibility for a child.
“We’re talking about families with limited resources available to them,” Knierim said.
This week, they’re expanding the program to guardians and children who are not related.
“That person who’s really close to the family is ready to step in and we feel deserves the same level of support as a family member doing that,” Knierim said.
The grants are capped at $500 per child or $2,000 per family per year, significantly less than the cost to the state if these children were to be sent into the foster system.
Twelve-year-old Hezekiah wants everyone to know the money his grandma receives is put to good use.
“We need to help her get through the hard times,” he said.
More information on the program is available here.