Assistance for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children

Background

Grandparents and other relatives play an important caregiving role in family well-being. Support from extended family is especially vital in families with low incomes. Many grandparents are financially responsible for meeting their grandchildren’s basic needs. These grandparent caregivers are disproportionately poor and disproportionately African American.

Families with grandparents as caregivers have access to an array of public-benefit programs. But in some cases, benefits are lower for grandparents and other family caregivers People who provide long-term services and supports to family members, relatives, friends, and neighbors. Some family caregivers are unpaid; others are paid through government programs, private funds, or long-term care insurance policies. than they are for foster parents.  

Grandparents caring for grandchildren may be eligible for child-only welfare benefits through Temporary Assistance for Needy FamiliesTANF provides cash assistance and a range of services and supports to people with low income and assets. . This assistance may be available to them regardless of the grandparents’ income and work status. Grandparent households that qualify can receive additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ProgramSNAP is the nation’s largest domestic nutrition assistance program, providing financial assistance for the purchase of qualifying food items. ( SNAP The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest domestic nutrition assistance program, providing financial assistance for the purchase of qualifying food items. ) benefits when a grandchild moves in. However, the grandchild can only receive SNAP The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest domestic nutrition assistance program, providing financial assistance for the purchase of qualifying food items. benefits if the entire household is eligible. Grandparents caring for a grandchild can also apply for free or reduced-price meals for their grandchild. These meals are provided through the National School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program. Income is a factor for eligibility.

And grandparents and other family members raising children face substantial difficulties getting public benefits. Some rules and program structures inadvertently create hardship. For example, they can discourage the creation of formal guardianships by grandparents and other family caregivers People who provide long-term services and supports to family members, relatives, friends, and neighbors. Some family caregivers are unpaid; others are paid through government programs, private funds, or long-term care insurance policies. . Others produce significant hurdles for grandparents and other family caregivers People who provide long-term services and supports to family members, relatives, friends, and neighbors. Some family caregivers are unpaid; others are paid through government programs, private funds, or long-term care insurance policies. to enroll children in school or obtain medical treatment for the children (see also Intergenerational Cooperation).

ASSISTANCE FOR GRANDPARENTS AND OTHER RELATIVES RAISING CHILDREN: Policy

ASSISTANCE FOR GRANDPARENTS AND OTHER RELATIVES RAISING CHILDREN: Policy

Foster policy

Policies and regulations should prioritize placing children in foster care with grandparents and other caregiver relatives whenever possible and appropriate.

Financial assistance

Public-benefit programs should ensure that families headed by grandparents and other caregiver relatives receive sufficient support for economic security and well-being.

States, with help from the federal government, should increase available benefit levels. They should adopt subsidized guardianship programs. The disparity between benefits paid to grandparents and other caregiver relatives versus benefits paid to foster parents should be narrowed. For example, they should equal approximately 80 to 85 percent of the amount the state would provide a foster-care household.

For households receiving multiple child-only grants from Temporary Assistance for Needy FamiliesTANF provides cash assistance and a range of services and supports to people with low income and assets. , the grant amounts should be equal for each child. The amount should not decline for each additional child after the first, as is now typically the case.

Access to assistance

States should make it as simple as possible for grandparents and other caregiver relatives to enroll in school children in their care or obtain medical treatment for them.

States should adopt programs that connect grandparents and other caregiver relatives with individuals who can help them access available resources.