Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor working to get aid for kinship foster families in Arizona

PHOENIX - A Valley lawmaker is hoping to help more families who foster their own young relatives.

Currently the state budgets $1 million, giving $75 a month per child to help those families. This is reaching only a small portion of the population in need.

People like 78-year-old Gentry Gray who thought he'd be retired by now.

"I thought I'd just have one retirement," said Gray, who is fostering his grandchildren.

But instead, he's come out of retirement three times.

"He won't stop working," said Gentry's wife, Vickki.

And it's not because he doesn't want to relax. He just has responsibilities.

"Learning to be a dad again is the biggest challenge," said Gentry.

He and Vickki are both grandparents, forced to become parents again.

"They literally came with the clothes on their backs," Vickki said.

Both were retired, on a fixed income, and the adjustment was hard.

But putting her grandchildren in the foster system was not an option.

"CPS was saying we don't have a place to put all five, we are going to have to split them up. We weren't going to have that," Vickki said.

Foster families that are not related to the child get anywhere from $500 to $900 a month per child.

Currently the state gives kinship foster families just $75 per child, while some families don't get a dime. There simply isn't enough funding.

"We need to give these grandparents support. They are stepping up, and they are actually saving the state money," said state Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor.

Support in the form of legislation that would increase the funding by $1.5 million.

If passed it would expand the $75 stipend to more kinship foster families.

It's not much, but it's one small step toward fixing this broken system and Landrum Taylor admits it will take many small steps to have true impact.

Landrum Taylor wants to also try to increase the amount of money each kinship-based foster family gets per child.

This legislation is one of many that's being introduced during this session aimed at fixing Arizona's broken child welfare system.

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