Raising grandchildren can be both rewarding and challenging for grandparents. While being able to spend more time with grandchildren is often a joy, taking on parenting duties later in life can also strain finances and energy levels.
Fortunately, there are government assistance programs available that can provide valuable help and support. This article will discuss some of the key benefits and services that grandparents raising grandchildren may be eligible for.
Financial Assistance Programs
One of the biggest challenges of raising grandchildren is often covering the increased costs. Programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can provide monthly cash assistance to help with expenses like food, clothing, utilities, and shelter.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers food stamp benefits that can be used to purchase groceries. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost health insurance for kids.
Some additional financial assistance options include:
- The Earned Income Tax Credit provides a refundable tax credit for working grandparents with low-moderate incomes. The amount of credit depends on factors like income level and number of children.
- The Child Tax Credit offers up to $2,000 per child under age 17 as a credit on federal income taxes. There is also a Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for childcare expenses.
- The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program helps pay a portion of monthly rent and utilities. Eligibility is based on household size and income.
- Subsidized senior living facilities that allow grandchildren are another option. The HUD 202 Program offers affordable independent living for seniors raising young relatives.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance.
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) for healthy food for kids under 5.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) for help with heating bills.
- Free or Reduced School Lunches for grandchildren at eligible public schools.
Health Insurance Options
Accessing healthcare is vital when raising children. Beyond Medicaid and CHIP, some other options include:
- Medicare – Once grandparents reach age 65, Medicare provides health insurance including coverage for doctor visits, hospital care, prescriptions, and more.
- Affordable Care Act Plans – Grandparents may qualify for lower-cost marketplace health insurance plans depending on their income.
- State Children’s Health Insurance Program – Each state has a CHIP program that provides low-cost health coverage for kids in families who earn too much for Medicaid but can’t afford private insurance. Eligibility varies by state.
- TRICARE – For grandparents who are retired military members, TRICARE offers several health plan options for families.
Raising grandchildren brings added responsibilities. Support services and programs can help provide a helping hand or advice.
Taking care of children full-time can be tiring. Respite care programs give grandparents a temporary break by providing short-term care for grandkids. Some options include:
- National Family Caregiver Support Program – Offers subsidized respite care for grandparents age 55+ raising related children under age 18.
- Area Agencies on Aging – Local agencies provide respite vouchers and arrange in-home or adult day care respite.
- Child Care Assistance – Some states allow the use of subsidized child care benefits for respite care purposes.
Connecting with others in a similar situation provides a sense of community. Local support groups for grandparent caregivers are offered by:
- The AARP Foundation
- Generations United
- Local non-profit agencies
- Churches and community centers
Raising grandchildren can stir up many emotions. Counseling provides a safe space to vent frustrations, get encouragement, and explore solutions. Options include:
- Support groups – Many include a counseling component.
- Church programs – Many churches offer free counseling.
- Employee Assistance Programs – Free counseling is offered through many workplaces.
- Medicaid – Provides counseling benefits for qualifying individuals.
Custody issues, adoption, and estate planning are common legal matters grandparents face. Free and low-cost legal help may be available from:
- Area Agency on Aging legal services – Help with powers of attorney, custody matters, and more.
- Law school legal clinics – Free or affordable help through law school pro bono programs.
- LawHelp.org – Database of free and reduced-cost legal aid programs nationwide.
Additional Benefits for People 62+
For grandparents 62 and older, the federal government offers a few extra benefits including:
- Transportation – Discounted bus passes and ride-share programs help with mobility issues.
- Nutrition – Home-delivered meals and community center dining provide healthy low-cost food options.
- Prescriptions – Medicare Part D prescription drug plans assist with medication costs.
- Property tax relief – Programs like the Homestead Exemption reduce taxes for eligible seniors.
- Veterans benefits – Increased pension, medical care, and other services are available for seniors who are military veterans.
Finding Local Assistance Programs
Navigating what’s available in your own community can be challenging. These resources help locate programs providing help for grandparents raising grandchildren:
- Eldercare Locator (eldercare.acl.gov) – Connects seniors with state and local assistance programs and services nationwide.
- Benefits Checkup (benefitscheckup.org) – An online questionnaire that generates a personalized list of benefit programs users may qualify for based on their situation and location.
- 211.org – Provides referrals to local health and human services assistance. Can search by zip code or call 211 to speak with a community resource specialist.
With support, grandparents can manage the challenges of raising grandchildren. Reaching out to access financial help, healthcare, respite care, legal aid, counseling, and other services provides the assistance needed to take on this important role.