For many seniors, retirement plans can change instantly when it becomes apparent that they’ll need to raise their grandchildren. The reasons this can happen are many, and none of them good: parental drug use, arrest and incarceration, a dangerous military assignment, alcoholism and even death of the parents.
The potential complications can be immediate: You have no extra room because you downsized, you’re in a strict 55-plus seniors community, you’re on a very limited Social Security budget, your health isn’t great … and so much more.
If you’re a senior who’s now in this position, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 3 million children are being raised by grandparents.
But help is available.
Start with the Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov) and scroll to your state. Ask about Medicaid for Children, SNAP benefits, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and Supplemental Security Income for children.
Raising Your Grandchildren (www.raisingyourgrandchildren.com) has a wealth of information. State Resources, for example, will take you to social workers, support groups and programs in your state.
The legal aspect of raising your grandchildren can’t be ignored because it will impact all parts of your life.
What you’re providing is called Kinship Care. Be sure you understand the differences between Formal, Informal, Temporary and Voluntary. Formal Kinship Care, for example, means the state has legal custody of the child but he lives with you. State laws vary, and you’ll have caseworkers, court appointments and more.
Informal Kinship Care, on the other hand, leaves the courts and caseworkers out of your lives, but legal custody remains with the parents. That can be a problem when it comes to getting the child medical care and enrolling them in school. The only financial assistance you might be eligible for is TANF.
Raising grandchildren is not easy. Get all the help and support you can.
(c) 2021 King Features Synd.