Do I have to have legal custody or guardianship of my grandchildren to apply for public benefits or get tax credits?
You do not need have a formal legal relationship with your grandchild to apply for some public benefits or tax credits, including EITC, the Child Tax Credit, Medicaid, a TANF Child-Only grant, and others. But some public benefits do require that you get custody or guardianship. Many states have Subsidized Guardianship Programs that have cash payments to help with the costs of raising a child who has been in the foster care system. In some states you may have to have been the child's foster parent yourself before getting legal guardianship to get the Guardianship Subsidy. Check with your county child welfare agency to find out how it works in your state.
If I adopt my grandchild, is there financial help to raise him/her?
All states have "Adoption Assistance" for children who are adopted when they have been in the child welfare system (foster care) and have "special needs". Every state defines special needs differently, and may or may not include children who are part of a group of brothers and sisters, is older, belongs to a minority group, or has physical or mental/emotional disabilities. Contact your child welfare agency to ask about the rules in your state.
Can I get child support payments from my grandchild's parent?
You may be able to get child support payments to help raise your grandchild. Talk with a family law lawyer about getting child support if you go to court for custody or guardianship. Learn about the pros and cons of child support in terms of finances and also the effect on your grandchild's parent. The Office of Child Support Enforcement may also be helpful.
I need to work. Can I get help to pay for child care?
Every state has a child care subsidy program that helps pay for child care for families with lower incomes who meet the guidelines for eligibility. You will need to contact your state or local child care government office and fill out a form. The income, work, age of the child and other requirements vary from state to state, so you'll need to find out what the rules are in your state.