Senator Harper Angel Receives Champion for Children Award for kinship caregiver legislation

award photoFRANKFORT – Senator Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, received the Champion for Children Award from the Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) today during the Children’s Advocacy Day rally in the Rotunda.

Senator Harper Angel successfully passed legislation during the 2014 Legislative Session (Senate Bill 176) that removes unnecessary barriers facing kinship families.

“I appreciate being recognized with this award, but this is about far more than me,” she said. “I am thankful we could pass this important legislation because it impacted many of our children across the commonwealth who are being raised by relatives – not their biological parents.”

SB 176 allows a relative caregiver to access key services for the children in their care when legal custody or guardianship is not feasible. It also allows caregivers to complete an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, stating that they are the primary caregiver of the child, and then by presenting the form, they would be able to authorize health care treatment, educational services and school enrollment.

“Before my legislation, schools and health care providers in Kentucky had no clear direction on how to handle these situations when parents could not be reached,” said Senator Harper Angel. “This legislation addressed this problem by removing barriers.”

“Thank you, Senator Harper Angel, for your work on behalf of Kentucky children in 2014,” said Andrea Bennett, KYA chief external affairs officer.

The number of children being raised by relatives has doubled over the past decade. Currently, about 59,000 children in Kentucky are being raised by kinship caregivers – grandparents and other extended family members. The majority of children are in informal arrangements in which relatives are providing care with no involvement of the courts or the child welfare system. Research shows that when children cannot remain with their parents, they fare better with relatives than in foster care.

“Senator Harper Angel saw a need for Kentucky kids and families and addressed it. Her leadership means that the thousands of children in kinship care will have a better today and a better tomorrow when it comes to issues ranging from health to education.  It’s that kind of bi-partisan and forward looking leadership that Kentucky’s kids so need,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, KYA executive director.

 With the passage of SB 176, Kentucky joined 23 other states that have enacted health care laws and 14 that have enacted education laws to allow kinship caregivers to authorize these services for children in their care.

Senator Harper Angel represents the 35th Senate District seat.

Paid for by Denise Harper Angel for State Senate, Catherine A. Dreier, CPA, Treasurer