Resources for grandparents raising grandchildren

Over 2.6 million children in the United States are being raised by grandparents, other relatives or close family friends.[1] While it can be extremely rewarding for an older adult to take on the responsibility of raising a child, there are also many challenges that arise. There is a wide variety of reasons kinship families form. However, regardless of how they come together, many of them face similar difficulties such as navigating the welfare system, establishing legal guardianship and moving past trauma. NCRC created this database of resources for grandfamilies to help provide support and assistance for older adults caring for children.

GENERAL

AARP Guide for Grandfamilies: AARP’s Guide for Grandfamilies helps older adults who are going to be raising children for the second time to give them an outline of how to start thinking about this responsibility. It includes resources for housing, legal issues, finances, health, education and much more.

AARP Resource Center for General Caregiving: The AARP resource center provides a variety of services, information and insights for caregivers in general. This is not specific to grandfamilies, but there are still valuable resources for grandparents raising grandchildren on this website.

DHHS Information and Resources on Guardianship: This resource by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides legal definitions and responsibilities that come along with guardianship. It also provides toolkits and publications on kinship families and grandfamilies.

General tips on grandparents raising grandchildren: This article by Help Guide offers an overview with some helpful tips and notable challenges that older adults face when taking on the responsibility of raising a child. This article is a good place to start for older adults to get a sense of the priorities.

National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights Inc.: “The National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights is a nationwide network of grandparents, community members and professionals working together to provide education and support, advocacy and thought leadership for children, grandparents and kinship families. Our vision is all children having healthy and stable relationships with their grandparents and other relatives.”

Online Support Group/Chatroom: While raising children as an older adult can be very rewarding, it can also be stressful at times. It can be helpful to be able to speak to people in a similar situation to get advice and support. This website is a chatroom for older adults raising children to share experiences, ideas, tips and resources with one another.

Resources and Fact Sheets by State: This Generation’s United Resource offers easily searchable fact sheets and state-based materials for each state.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES

AARP Financial Planning for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: This is AARP’s financial planning resource for older adults raising children. It includes information about benefits, fact sheets and general questions to consider.

AARP Public Benefits Guide: AARP’s Public Benefit Guide is a searchable database of state-led financial assistance programs.

Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs: If in the position to adopt the child you are caring for, you are eligible for tax benefits that include a tax credit for expenses paid to adopt and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance.

A Grandfamily Guide to TANF: This Generations United fact sheet focuses on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and how older adults can access this benefit to support their family.

American Opportunity Tax Credit: The American Opportunity Tax Credit offers a credit for expenses paid by students for higher education.

Database to Find Financial Assistance Programs: The National Council on Aging created BenefitsCheckUp to help older Americans find different assistance programs for which they are eligible.

Guardianship Assistance Programs: Guardian Assistance Programs are a block grant provided to each state to offer payments for relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of eligible children for whom they previously cared for as foster parents. Each state administers its own program, so you will have to search for their individual states’ program. Here is information on the formal grant for the state program more broadly.

Housing Developments for Grandfamilies: Generations United created a list of different housing developments specifically for grandfamilies across the country. It includes information about the number of units, the location, whether the project is completed, services offered, the population makeup and the bedroom size.

Lifetime Learning Tax Credit: Students seeking an undergraduate, graduate and professional degree may be eligible for a lifetime learning credit. This credit applied to qualified tuition and education related expenses paid for eligible students enrolled in an eligible educational institution. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim the credit. It is worth up to $2,000 per tax return.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. They offer free and affordable financial counseling in a variety of areas. You can access their services in person, online or over the phone.

State TANF Definitions of Relative: This resource provides the legal definitions of “relative” for each state based on their TANF eligibility requirements.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI provides cash benefits to eligible adults and children with disabilities that seriously limit their activities. This program provides financial assistance to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.

Tax Benefits for Grandfamilies: The Tax Institute provides this resource that helps older adults raising children find tax benefits that are available to them. There is a helpful chart at the bottom of the document that shows the eligibility requirements for each benefit.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): TANF offers financial assistance for low-income families. The program is established through block grants for each state, so services vary based on each state. By clicking “Help for Families,” you can search for services by state

HEALTH

Children’s Health Insurance Program: InsureKidsNow.gov helps older adults find government assistance for healthcare coverage for children they are raising. This resource is easily searchable by state.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): CHIP Medicaid, along with other programs, provides health care coverage for children who qualify. This website offers information on who is eligible and how to apply, as well as offering suggestions for similar health care coverage programs to explore.

Generations United Resources for Grandfamilies and Substance Abuse: This Generation United resource is specifically for grandfamilies who are impacted by substance abuse. Kinship caregivers have identified five topics identified that are uniquely challenging for grandfamilies affected by substance use and addressed them here. Generation United covers information and resources for grandfamilies impacted by substance abuse in this guide.

Grandfamilies.org Guide to Raising Children with Disabilities: This valuable resource by Grandfamilies.org is a guide specifically for older adults who are raising children with disabilities. It provides detailed information about the different things to consider and the variety of programs available.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP provides critical nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families.

LEGAL SERVICES

Legal Services: The American Bar Association offers a resource for people who are low-income that need legal assistance. This website provides a list of organizations that provide high-quality pro bono legal services to those who qualify.

National Resources for Grandfamilies: Grandfamilies.org is a collaboration between Generations United, the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law and Casey Family Programs. This website acts a legal resource for grandfamilies by providing information and access to helpful programs.

IMMIGRATION

Grandfamilies and Immigration: Because of the increase in immigration enforcement and child separation at the U.S. southern border, grandparents and other relatives are stepping up to raise many of these children. This report by Generations United highlights the additional barriers children and caregivers face when a grandfamily forms because of the detention or deportation of the parent(s).

CHILDCARE

ChildCare.gov Database: The US Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Children and Families established ChildCare.gov to assist parents with finding and funding childcare. This database provides easily searchable information by each state regarding childcare services, financial assistance for childcare and important information on finding a good provider.

[1]  2009-2018 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). Estimates represent a three-year average (2016-2018). Retrieved from https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/7172-children-in-kinship-care?loc=1&loct=1#detailed/1/any/false/1687,1652,1564,1491,1443,1218,1049,995/any/14207,14208. This report is focused on children in grandfamilies without any parents in the home.

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