When you take on care of grandchildren, you may need to make some changes in your home to make sure it can safely accommodate them. Here are answers to frequently asked questions:
See also: GrandFamilies Resources.
I live in senior housing — can my grandchildren live with me?
Most public or private senior-only housing does not allow children to live there, and will only allow children to visit for a short period of time. Talk with the administrator or housing coordinator about your need to have your grandchildren live with you. Find out how long they can be there before you will have to move. Ask if you can stay there long enough to find other affordable, safe housing big enough for you and your grandchildren.
I have a low income. How I can I find affordable housing?
Go to your local Public Housing Authority (PHA) office and ask about public housing, which includes rental housing for families with lower incomes, the elderly and people with disabilities. Public housing might be a single family home, a duplex, a small apartment building or a high rise apartment.
Another option is Housing Choice Vouchers that will allow you to lease/rent or even purchase safe, low-cost privately owned apartments, townhouses or single family homes. With housing vouchers you get to choose the place you want to rent and are not limited to public housing. The owner has to agree to accept the voucher payments and the home has to be inspected and approved by the PHA.
Will I have to pass a home inspection to become a foster parent?
If your grandchildren have been in the custody of the state or if they are being abused or neglected and the state takes custody of the children, you might be able to become a foster parent to care for them. The state will look at your home to make sure it meets certain rules for health, safety and space. Federal rules say that relative foster parents have to abide by the same rules to be licensed as any foster parent. However, some states may waive certain rules for relative foster parents if they are not related to safety issues.
Is there any special housing available for grandfamilies?
There are now several apartment complexes that have been created just for "grandfamilies" (grandparents or other relatives raising children). This type of public housing exists in Boston, Baton Rouge, La., Chicago and several other cities across the country. Contact your local Public Housing Authority to see if there is grandfamilies housing near you.
Can I get any help with taxes on my home or utility bills?
You may qualify for property tax relief or rebates if you have a lower income and meet other criteria. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program also helps people with low incomes pay their heating and cooling bills and some energy-related home repairs. There are also telephone assistance programs (Lifeline and Link-up) that help people pay their phone bills.
- Go to AARP's Benefits QuickLINK and answer a list of questions. You'll get a report that tells you what programs you are eligible for, including property tax relief/rebates, LIHEAP and Telephone Assistance, along with forms to apply. If you can't get to a computer, call 1-888-GRAND-18 and ask for a referral to someone who can help you with a Benefits QuickLINK screening.
- AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide Program offers free online tax preparation help or call toll-free 888-AARPNOW (888-227-7669).