Honoring Family Caregiver Month: Resources for Grandparent Caregivers
November marks National Caregiver Month. Today, about 3 million children live with grandparents who have pledged to be their primary caregivers, according to Pew Research Center estimates.
Grandparents can intervene when the child’s parents can no longer care for the child, when the parents die or when a court takes away their parental rights. Without the grandparents taking responsibility, the state could have placed these children in foster families who have no connection to the children. When grandparents become guardians of their grandchildren, children can preserve family ties, remaining connected to their biological families.
While caring for a grandchild is rewarding, it can also be challenging, especially when it comes to finances. Grandparents who are retired and with declining income may face the challenge of balancing their grandchildren’s needs, such as clothing, with their own needs, such as medical care. They might even feel like they have to use their retirement savings to support their grandchildren. However, state and federal benefit programs, as well as other resources, are available to help “large families” facing financial hardship.
Several tools are available to support caregiver grandparents with financial difficulties associated with caregiving.
- AdvantagesCheckUp – The National Council on Aging’s online resource, BenefitsCheckUp, can help seniors identify federal and state assistance programs for which they qualify.
Starting with their zip codes, users can enter personal information into the tool, and BenefitsCheckUp keeps the information they disclose private. After entering the details, the resource generates a personalized eligibility results report, which reveals the benefits programs they can apply for. The tool also identifies areas where program administrators might need more information to determine eligibility. The report can give seniors insight into which programs they could successfully apply for as well as which programs meet their needs.
- TANF – The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides funding that states use to provide financial assistance to low-income families for necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. The TANF program varies by state.
In some states, child care assistance is available in addition to financial support. To qualify for TANF, seniors must have minor children, be unemployed or underemployed, and have a low income. (TANF is also available for pregnant women and minors who are the head of their household.)
- InsureKidsNow.gov – As an online resource for families, InsureKidsNow.gov offers information on obtaining free or low-cost health care for children. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost health care to minor children whose families meet the state’s financial eligibility criteria.
As a grandparent caregiver, you can use InsureKidsNow.gov to explore health insurance options for your grandchildren, including mental and behavioral health and dental care. The dentist locator, for example, can help you find a local dentist who accepts Medicaid and CHIP. The website also contains immunization awareness resources.
Besides financial constraints, caring for a grandchild can raise other concerns. Grandparents who are primary caregivers may have concerns about their legal rights, especially when children are involved in the foster care system. Caregivers may also have specific questions and concerns if a child has a disability or is diagnosed with a serious illness.
- Grandfamilys.org — An online information center, Grandfamilies.org supports families where grandparents are the primary caregivers, by providing information on state and federal laws. The website contains a searchable database of regulations affecting ‘grandfamilies’ – families with grandparents as immediate caregivers.
The directory covers all states and includes information about children who are in the foster care system. The Law and Policy Center at Grandfamilies.org offers information to help you understand and navigate the legal system. The website’s publications and subject library contain information about issues affecting families where grandparents are responsible for children, such as adoption and foster care.
- Caregiver Action Network — As a digital library and discussion center, Caregiver Action Network provides information on caregiving and helps individuals connect with others facing similar situations.
When you sign up for the Care Chat feature, you can communicate with other caregivers online, ask questions, and post messages and replies. The resource includes information on caring for children with disabilities and illnesses such as cancer. As part of its toolkit for caregivers, Caregiver Action Network also has a directory of financial and legal resources. You can also ask questions at the Caregiver Help Desk and receive personalized answers.
This Thanksgiving season, if you are a grandparent caring for a minor, or know someone who is part of a “big family,” consider contacting your family law attorney. seniors to learn more about the resources available to you.
Last modification: 18/10/2022