Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York, Inc
Grandparents' Rights Project
According to the most recent U.S. Census, across the nation, more than six million children reside in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. In New York, approximately one half million children live within homes headed by grandparents or other relatives, and in the city of Buffalo alone, almost 3,000 grandparents serve as their grandchildren's primary caretakers.
Assuming responsibility for a relative child inevitably results in an increase in household expenses. Raising children is indeed expensive, and non-parent relatives caring for children, in the absence of both parents, often require financial assistance to properly meet their needs. Federal and New York State statutes provide several forms of financial assistance to children within the care of relatives. Such programs include, but are not limited to:
* Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Child Only Grants- Such cash grants are available to all low-income children within the care of non-parent relatives, and exclusively based on the child's income. The income of the relative is irrelevant. The relative must apply for the grant in person, and attend an interview, at the Erie County Department of Social Services, 158 Pearl St., Buffalo, NY. On behalf of the child, the relative receives the cash grant, bi-weekly. The amount of such grant depends not on the number of people in the household but on the number of children cared for by the relative. The amount of the grant, per month, for one child is approximately $400.00. Legal Services for the Elderly helps relative care givers complete the grant application, and provides free legal representation in cases involving a denial, reduction, or termination of grant benefits.
* Foster Care Payments- Such cash payments are available only to children cared for by certified 'foster-care' parents, which may include relatives or 'kin.' There are three levels of foster care payments available to kinship foster-care parents: a Regular Rate, a Special Rate and an Exceptional Rate, all of which are substantially higher than and paid in lieu of the TANF Child Only Grant. Legal Services for the Elderly helps relative care givers obtain foster care certification and foster-care payments.
* Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits- Such cash benefits are available to all poor and disabled or blind children within the care of non-parent relatives, and like the TANF Child Only Grant, the benefits are exclusively based on the child's income. The amount of the benefit is usually higher than the TANF Child Only Grant, and when it falls short, the relative can apply for the TANF Grant to receive the difference. Legal Services for the Elderly helps relative care givers complete the SSI application and provides free legal representation in cases involving the overpayment or underpayment of SSI income.
*Adoption Subsidies- Such cash subsidies are available only to 'special needs' or 'hard to place' children adopted out of foster-care. The level of the subsidy is generally analogous to the level of the foster care payment received by the relative, on behalf of the child, prior to the adoption. Legal Services for the Elderly helps relative care givers obtain and secure adoption subsidies.
* Food Stamps- Such coupons, designed to help meet the nutritional needs of children, are available only to low-income households. The county, under federal and state statute, considers the income of the relative care giver when determining eligibility. While foster-care payments qualify as income 'exclusions,' for food stamp eligibility purposes, SSI Income Benefits, and TANF Child Only Grants do not. Legal Services for the Elderly provides free legal representation to relative care givers in cases involving the denial, reduction or termination of food stamps.
* Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Checks- Such checks, designed to help purchase specific food items, such as milk, butter, eggs and peanut butter for children up to five years of age are available only to low-income households. The income of the relative care giver is considered when determining eligibility. Legal Services for the Elderly helps relative care givers obtain WIC for the children within their care.
Other Financial Assistance
In addition to the cash or cash like assistance programs available to children cared for by non-parent relatives, such children are also often eligible to receive Medicaid or Child Health Plus.
Relatives caring for children may be eligible for certain tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, as well as, housing subsidies, such as Belmont or Section Eight.
For help in any of the areas mentioned, please do not hesitate to call: Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of
Western New York, Inc. Grandparents' Rights Project