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November 24, 2003
Grandparents who are primary caregivers of grandchildren face many challenges, including legal, financial, medical, and emotional issues.
The first step to determining what kind of support is needed, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), should be to resolve legal questions around custody, guardianship, or adoption. Without legal status, grandparents may not be able to enroll their grandchildren in school or make medical decisions for them. For help on obtaining legal assistance or other support, contact AARP's Grandparent Information Center . You can write to: AARP Grandparent Information Center, 601 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20049; or telephone them at: 1-800-434-3410; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you are raising your grandchild, check to see if you are eligible for financial assistance from your state. Sources such as Medicaid, foster care, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Social Security may be available. If you have private health insurance, inquire about adding your grandchildren to the policy. Your local Department of Social Services can give you information about eligibility for Medicaid or your state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
You may be eligible for various federal tax relief programs such as the child tax, health coverage or earned income tax credits. Tax laws and requirements change every year. It is best to get assistance when filing your taxes to make sure you are getting all the tax relief credits available to you. To find out more about the child tax credit and other tax relief, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov or visit your local IRS office for help in person.
If you need to find child care, call Child Care Aware® toll-free at 1-800-424-2246, or look at the information on this website. This service can help you locate your local child care expert – the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency in your area. The CCR&R will give you information about choosing appropriate child care, along with referrals to child care providers, information on state licensing, and other helpful information you will need in finding quality care for your grandchildren.
You may be eligible for child care financial assistance. See Child Care Aware®'s Finding Help Paying for Child Care brochure, available for free by calling 1-800-424-2246, or finding the information on this website.
Look for resources in your community that can provide emotional support for you as well as your grandchildren. Parenting a grandchild is totally different from parenting your own children. Many of the reasons why children live with their grandparents also create special psychological, educational, and behavioral problems. The children may be grieving or angry and confused by their parents' absence. You may be dealing with your own grief or anger and disappointment at your child's inability to raise his/her own children. Seek out help - from your faith community, your grandchild's school, local support agencies, or individual counselors. You're not alone.