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The amount of financial assistance that is available depends largely on individual circumstances. Government aid varies from state to state as well as local charities and local food banks. The following is a list of possible sources for financial aid. Check with your local Social Services Office about these programs and well as any additional services that may be available in your area.

  • TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families  -- This is a federal and state combined program. It is a need-based program and the amount and type of financial assistance available varies from state to state. Low-income households can apply for the entire family to receive benefits, which may include cash assistance, food stamps, and daycare. If the household income is too high to qualify for assistance, a grandparent can still apply on behalf of the children. This is called a Child-Only Grant. It is then based on the child's income. When an entire household receives TANF benefits, there is a time limit, which depends on individual state regulations. However, if TANF benefits are received only for the children, the time limit does not apply but the children's income, if any, still does. When applying for TANF, a grandparent may need to prove  the grandparent/grandchild relationship. This means that birth certificates for the children as well as for your adult child may be needed to prove that you are the grandparent. To apply for TANF, contact your local Social Services Office.
  • Medicaid -- This is also a federal and state combined program that is need-based. When children are not living with their parent/s but are in the care of a family member, the caregiver can apply for Medicaid on behalf of the children. This is based on the income of the children and whether or not they are covered under private health insurance or through health insurance marketplaces. To apply for Medicaid, contact your local Social Services Office.

  • Social Security Benefits -- If the parent of your grandchild has died, you can submit an application for your grandchild to receive Social Security benefits. "Survivor Benefits" are available to family members of certain deceased workers. These benefits can help in meeting your grandchild's living expenses.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) -- SSI is a form of Social Security that allows certain disabled persons to receive monthly payments. SSI has certain new disability rules written to cover children. Apply for SSI at the Social Security Administration office in your region.

  • Subsidized Guardianship -- Some states have a program that pays subsidies to grandparents and kinship caregivers who are the legal guardian of a child. This usually occurs when the child has been in the state foster care system, and the relative becomes the legal guardian. However, not all states provide this option.

  • Kinship Foster Care -- When a child is in the custody of the state and being placed in foster care, there is the possibility of being placed with family members. When a family member becomes the foster parent of a child in state custody, he or she must meet the same licensing requirement and receive the same foster care payment as non-kin foster parents.

  • Daycare -- Free or low-cost daycare may be available for grandparents raising their grandchildren. Contact your local Social Services Office.

  • Local Churches and Organizations -- Many churches and organizations help needy families with food, utilities, rent, clothing, and Christmas and birthday gifts. Letting others know that you have a specific need is the first step in receiving help for yourself as well as your grandchildren.


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Finding needed financial services for grandparents raising grandchildren is a problem. Grandparents throughout the United States, Canada, and the entire world face this same challenge.

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