Financing the Care of Your Grandchild


Grandparents who become the primary caregiver for their grandchildren may find themselves under financial strain. Some will be forced to seek work because of the added financial responsibilities of raising their grandchildren. Others will be forced to leave their jobs because of lack of affordable child care. Still others will be forced to spend their savings. And then there are those that will suffer a reduction in their fixed incomes/benefits due to regulations which penalize them because they have assumed the care of their grandchildren. Below you will find information that may help you as you struggle to meet the care needs of your grandchild.


Adopting Your Grandchild

It may be in your best interest to adopt your grandchild. You may be eligible for adoption assistance and/or medical assistance depending on your circumstance. Parents (grandparents) can also receive Medicaid payment or reimbursement for certain non-recurring adoption expenses up to $2,000 per child. Additional assistance may be negotiated at the time the adoption agreement is signed.

Your local Human Services Agency can provide you with information. You should also consult with an attorney experienced in Elder Law to confirm your rights and to help you make the adoption decision.

There are occasions where a family member may get adoption assistance without actually adopting the child. Your Department of Social Service can give you up-to-date information since requirements and rules can change.

Basic Rate You Might Be Eligible For Through Adoption
Age 0-5 $315
Age 6-12 $365
Age 13+ $415
HIV children  $800
indeterminate HIV status $1,000
confirmed HIV-infected, asymptomatic $1,200
confirmed HIV-infected, symptomatic $1,600




Employee Benefits

If you are employed outside the home, your employer may offer benefits related to your care of your grandchild. Typical benefits would be onsite child care, family and medical leave, health insurance, life insurance, etc. Check with your Human Resources Department to see what you may be entitled to or what you may purchase through your company.




Health Care

Families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford rising health insurance premiums may still be able to access free or reduced price comprehensive health care for their children.

Contact your Department of Social Services or Human Services agency for information on which state agency provides this type of assistance in your state.

Grandmom and Grandson
Grandmom Getting Kisses


NCNC Health Choice for Children offers the same coverage as that provided for the children of state employees and teachers, plus vision, hearing and dental benefits.

NC Health Choice Emergency Respite Program
"Children with special health care needs enrolled in NC Health Choice for Children may be eligible to receive emergency respite care. This benefit is designed to allow families to respond when they have an emergency they need to attend to. Parents may use emergency respite care to take care of unexpected personal matters such as a medical emergency or death in the family, or an unplanned situation in which parents are temporarily unable to care for their child." 1-800-737-3028

*Division of Medical Assistance


NC The Division of Medical Assistance also offers the Community Alternatives Program for Children (CAP/C) which provides cost-effective home care for medically fragile children (through age 18) who would otherwise require long-term hospital care or nursing facility care.




Social Security Retirement Benefits And Grandchildren

"A fairly recent phenomenon in American households is the growing incidence of grandparents taking over as parents for their grandchildren. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 3 million of America's 70 million children now live with their grandparents. Whatever the reason, more and more grandparents find themselves assuming the role of parents. And when this happens, it's helpful to know that Social Security may be able to help with the financial burden.

If a parent is deceased or drawing disability or retirement benefits, the children may qualify for benefits on that parent's earnings record. If that's not the case, then Social Security may recognize the grandparent as the "parent" for benefit purposes.

When the grandparent retires, becomes disabled, or dies, the grandchild may then be able to qualify for benefits if certain conditions are met. Generally, the biological parents of the child must be deceased or disabled, or the grandchild must be legally adopted by the grandparent.

In addition, the grandchild must have begun living with the grandparent before age 18 and received at least one half of his or her support from the grandparent for the year before the month the grandparent became entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits or died. Also, the natural parent(s) of the child must not be making regular contributions to his or her support.

If the grandchild was born during the one-year period, the grandparent must have lived with and provided at least one-half of the child's support for substantially all of the period from the date of birth to the month the grandparent became entitled to benefits.

The grandchild may qualify for benefits under these circumstances, even if her or she is a step-grandchild. However, if the grandparents are already receiving benefits, they would need to adopt the child for it to qualify for benefits."

*From the Social Security website


"More than six million people who get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, or both, need someone to help them manage their money. When a person needs this kind of help, the Social Security Administration - after a careful investigation - appoints a relative, friend or another interested party to serve as the beneficiary's "representative payee." The person's Social Security or SSI benefits are then paid in the representative payee's name on the beneficiary's behalf."


Children may be eligible for Social Security benefits on their own.

"SSI Benefits For Children - These are benefits payable to disabled children under age 18 who have limited income and resources, or who come from homes with limited income and resources.

Social Security Dependents Benefits - These are benefits payable to children under the age of 18 on the record of a parent who is collecting retirement or disability benefits from Social Security, or survivors benefits payable to children under the age of 18 on the record of a parent who has died.

Although children under age 18 who are eligible for these benefits might be disabled, we do not need to consider their disability to qualify them for benefits.

Note: A child can continue receiving dependents or survivors benefits until age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in elementary or high school."

*From the Social Security website




State Support

Most states offer resources and support of various types for children. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what benefits your state has to offer.


To follow are some of the resources for children offered by the state of North Carolina. If you see resources that you need, check to see if your state offers the same or a similar program.


Children With Disabilities

lf your grandchild has a disability such as visual impairment or hearing loss, there may be state resources available to help you - both with finances and with accessing assistive devices to make life easier for both you and your grandchild. The state agency with responsibility for the type of disability is the one to contact.


Outside North Carolina, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what benefits your state has to offer.

Food Stamps

"The Food Stamp Program is a federal program that provides a monthly allotment of Food Stamp benefits issued via Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (ATM cards). The Food Stamp Program is an entitlement program, so all eligible individuals and households can receive assistance. Food Stamp benefits may be used to purchase most foods at participating stores. They may not be used to purchase tobacco, pet food, paper products, soap products, or alcoholic beverages.

Applications are taken at county Departments of Social Services in the county in which the household resides. "

*Division of Social Services


Outside North Carolina, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what benefits your state has to offer.

Other Types of Assistance from Social Services

Grants are sometimes available to provide assistance if both you and your grandchild need help. You may qualify for medical insurance coverage along with a monetary grant and food stamps to help with the groceries. Contact your local Department of Social Services for more information.

Most grandparents are eligible to receive funding for children with a "child-only grant" This is money paid to the grandparent by the government for the benefit of the child or children. The child gets medical insurance coverage along with a monetary grant and you may qualify for child care assistance. Contact your local Department of Social Services for more information.


Outside North Carolina, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what benefits your state has to offer.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families

The TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) program, is federal program that is available in North Carolina. TANF provides financial assistance in the form of a monthly check to help families care for children who need help. This program also provides help to children who have been deprived of parental support or care.

The state must follow federal guidelines, including two rules affecting grandparents. This program is available through your Department of Social Services.

  • Adults cannot receive TANF benefits for more than 5 years.
  • Adults who receive TANF benefits must get a job within 2 years.

Some other rules that will apply:

  • if your grandchild comes to you from another state, the rules of the home state may apply for up to 12 months
  • if your grandchild's parents are under 18 and not married, they may have to move home or attend school
  • most new immigrants cannot receive TANF benefits for 5 years

Most grandchildren under their grandparent's care are eligible to receive child-only grants under the TANF program. This means that the grandparent's income and assets are not counted in the child's eligibility. Be sure to ask about the program to see whether it is the best choice for your situation.


Outside North Carolina, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what benefits your state has to offer.

Work First

Work First is a North Carolina program designed to help welfare recipients find work. The program helps families find and pay for child care to make this program succeed. Children are protected with health insurance, child care subsidies, and family support services.

Work First cash assistance is provided primarily for children. grandparents and other relatives who are caregivers who have legal custody or guardianship of children may apply for assistance on their behalf. Children are eligible for benefits through age 17. Grandparents or other caregiver relatives may be exempt from the work search requirements and the time limitations of the program.

Contact the county Departments of Social Services in the county in which the household resides. Or call (919)733-7831 for more information.


Outside North Carolina, check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what benefits your state has to offer.




Subsidized Guardianship

GrandsPlace website offers a listing of nationwide subsidized guardianship programs with contact and eligibility information. However, as they also note, this information can easily and quickly change. Use it as a reference and then contact your local Department of Social Services or Human Services agency.


The Children's Defense Fund is a private, nonprofit organization that offers information on subsidized guardianship, including a state -by -state listing of eligibility criteria.

NC North Carolina is a IV-E (Social Security Act) Child Welfare Waiver state and has subsidized guardianship as a component of that project. Ten of the 100 counties in North Carolina participate in the waiver. Contact your local Department of Social Services to see if you are eligible.




Tax Credits

There are several tax credits for which a grandparent raising a grandchild may be eligible.

Earned Income Tax Credit
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
Child Care Credit
The Hope Scholarship Credit


For more information on tax issues, contact your accountant, or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (1-800-829-1040). The IRS website also provides nationwide local IRS contact information. If you can't afford an accountant and want personalized assistance, call 1-800-829-1040 for the location of a free IRS service called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA/TCE).




Veteran's Benefits

The Veteran's Administration offers some benefits for children of veterans. Your grandchild may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation payments. Parents of veterans may also be eligible for the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. And, the child may be eligible for educational assistance as well. states may provide additional benefits if they choose.

Contact your local Division of Veteran Affairs for more information and for assistance in determining eligibility for benefits.

Additionally, TRICARE (military healthcare), may continue to provide medical coverage for a time.




Personalized Assistance

For some, the increased financial burden will seem overwhelming. Don't feel embarrassed about asking for assistance. Life has changed since you raised your kids and you are facing challenges that are new to you. For personalized assistance, contact a caregiver specialist or local information and assistance professional. They will be able to assist you directly or put you in contact with the appropriate agency for your needs.

Care managers, who you would need to hire, are another option for help. If you don't know who to call, your regional Area Agency on Aging can connect you will the appropriate local agency.


Helpline Person
There is Help Available
I&A Specialist



    Bookmark and Share