Giving up children to the foster care system is a heartbreaking reality for thousands of Kentucky grandparents, often because they don't have enough money to take care of them.

In his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday, Gov. Matt Bevin said foster care reform is a top priority in 2017. One grandmother hopes "kinship caregivers" are not left out.

Norma Hatfield of Elizabethtown is pushing for change. At 54, Hatfield never thought she'd be a full-time mom.

"I love it. I love taking care of them," she said of her granddaughters.

Kayla, 8, Lajuan, 11, now live with their grandma full-time.

"In 2014, the girls were taken out of their home," she said. "There were drugs. Another child ingested meth."

The girls were quickly swept into the state's foster care system. Hatfield and her husband fought for custody.

It wasn't easy, and it wasn't cheap. 

"When you find out that they are pulled out of their home, taken to another county, and in foster care, and you have to do what it takes to get them out, that's when your world changes," she said.

That's when Hatfield's eyes opened to the struggle shared by thousands of kinship caregivers across the state.

"Some grandparents are letting kids go to foster care because they can't afford them," she said. "Especially the elderly ones on social security."

The state compensates foster parents $690, per child, each month. But the Kinship Care program that gave caregivers a $300 monthly stipend ended in 2013.

Hatfield is pushing state lawmakers to reinstate Kinship Care with Senate Bill 29.

"These children are better with family first," she said. "Let's help them out."

The governor is taking notice. On Thursday, the girls hand-delivered a stack of 1,200 signatures and letters, all supporting Kinship Care. 

"I thought it was fantastic," Hatfield said. "You can see this is somebody that has a heart for children and has a heart for a lot of things he's trying to work on to make our state better. And if they can get this bill passed, that will definitely make things a lot better in Kentucky." 

By the way, this is a issue close to the governor's heart. Bevin has four adopted children.

Hatfield wants to hear from other caregivers in similar situations. To join her letter-writing campaign to support Kinship Care, e-mail

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