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Families Plan, Pandemic EBT Could Bring Relief for More KY Families

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021   

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Expanding child care, creating paid family and medical leave, and boosting health-care coverage affordability are just some of the proposals in President Joe Biden's American Families Plan.

Experts say the plan will help more Kentucky families stay afloat in a year of unprecedented challenges.

Jason Bailey, founder and executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said the pre-pandemic economy didn't serve most Kentuckians well, and believes Congress should act soon on the investments laid out in Biden's latest proposal.

"We had an economy of growing inequality and widespread insecurity, and we certainly had that in the Commonwealth," Bailey recounted. "We can't just go back to that. We have to make the kind of investments creating jobs, improving job quality."

The plan includes a proposed twelve weeks of paid leave for people with caregiving responsibilities, extended child tax credits and child-care subsidies, and extra funding to states to ensure two years of free community college, among other reforms.

Bailey pointed out more Black and Brown Kentuckians, who continue to face disparities in health, housing, education and employment, could gain from these types of public investments.

"Whether that's through easier access to child care, whether that's more home- and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities," Bailey outlined. "It will just provide funding to fill gaps in our economy and needs that have been longstanding, especially for a state such as Kentucky with its high poverty levels and other challenges."

Jessica Klein, policy associate at the Center, said more relief for families is on the way in the form of extended Pandemic-EBT benefits, the cards that provide eligible families with grocery money.

"During the summer when meals are hard to find for students, particularly when they're not in school, this additional benefit is going to provide those kids with grocery money," Klein explained.

She added that just like SNAP, money from Pandemic-EBT cards goes directly to local food retailers and stimulates local economies.

One in five Kentucky children struggles with hunger, according to data from Feeding America. Klein noted families can call the Department of Community Based Services to see if they are eligible.

Disclosure: Kentucky Center for Economic Policy contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Criminal Justice, Education, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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