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Grandparent Caregivers Describe Pain of Cuts to Subsidy

Fourteen grandparents, who are fulltime caregivers of their grandchildren, told members of the DC Council’s Human Service’s Roundtable, that the 33 percent cut to the Grandparent Caregiver program in the Supplemental FY 2011 Budget have been painful. AARP DC proposed restoring $1.78 million to the Grandparent Caregiver program in FY 2011.

The grandparents say notices of the change to the subsidies they count on to help take care of their grandchildren were delivered too late for them to make adjustments. One grandmother is caring for a grandchild whose physical disabilities require continual use of electronic medical equipment. Expecting a significant electricity bill for recent and very cold winter month, she said she worries about her ability to pay household expenses. Others describe the challenge of feeding and clothing growing grandchildren of various ages on a suddenly reduced budget. Many of the grandparents work fulltime, but all have incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

James McSpadden, Associate State Director for Advocacy at AARP DC, put the problem in fiscal perspective. It takes $9,000 a year to subsidize the expenses of grandchildren in the care of their grandparents in the program, McSpadden said. If the 610 children currently benefitting from the Grandparent Caregiver subsidies entered the foster care system instead, the city would pay another $21.35 million annually for their care, or $35,000 per child, he explained. Finally, he said, the 33 percent cut to monies grandparents spend for food, rent, school supplies and clothing for their grandchildren takes about $180,000 out of the District’s economy.

Find more information on the Grandparent Caregiver Program.