Bill allows parents to nurture infants in early months

Kansas Action for Children
February 25, 2020

Kansas Action for Children believes in providing the best start possible to young children, which includes economic stability for new parents by continuing to receive cash assistance during their child’s earliest months. 

That’s why we support Senate Bill 440, which would provide an additional option to fulfill work participation requirements under the cash assistance program.  It changes what satisfies the current work requirement, allowing a single parent of a child who is between 3 months and 1 year of age to fulfill work participation requirements by engaging in in-home parenting skills training. 

This change would benefit the child, the parent, and the state.  

Currently, a single parent of a 3-month-old infant faces a difficult decision, having to choose between continuing to receive needed economic support or going back to work. Research shows that “it takes time to become a responsive caregiver to a young child, establishing a pattern that will promote the child’s long-term cognitive, social, and emotional development.” It is important for parents to have an opportunity to stay home and bond with their children. 

The bill would benefit new families, but the change outlined in the proposed legislation could also save the state money. If parents qualify for cash assistance, they would also qualify for child care assistance. If a parent needs to go back to work to satisfy the requirements needed to receive cash assistance, then they will need, and be eligible for, child care assistance. On average, Kansas spends more on monthly child care assistance payments than cash assistance.

For example, Kansas’s monthly payment rate for center care for a one-year-old in Sedgwick County was $740, not including the parental contribution. However, the maximum cash assistance payment for a family of two in a high-cost, high-population county is much less, at just $284 a month. It would be more economical for the state to continue to provide cash assistance to parents of children between 3 months of age and 1 year of age, allowing the parent to stay at home and bond with their child, than to provide child care assistance for the new parent to fulfill harsh work requirements.    

SB 440 would provide continued, needed financial assistance to Kansas infants and the adults who care for them.