OLR Research Report

February 9, 1998 98-R-0176


FROM: Saul Spigel, Chief Analyst

RE: Financial Assistance for Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren

You wanted to know what kinds of financial assistance are available for grandparents who take on the responsibility for raising their grandchildren.


Grandparents who are the primary caregivers for a grandchild can receive several forms of government support depending on their legal relationship with the child. They can receive Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) on behalf of the child, foster care reimbursements, or guardianship subsidies. If the grandparents receive Food Stamps, they could receive more because of taking in the child. If the grandparents do not cover the child under private health insurance, the child would probably be eligible for Medicaid or HUSKY plan medical insurance. A child might receive Social Security benefits through a parent, which the grandparents could use for the child's support.

Temporary Family Assistance

Grandparents who take a grandchild into their homes but who do not ask a court to appoint them as the child's legal guardian or become his foster parents through the Department of Children and Families (DCF), can receive TFA benefits as the child's supervising relative. They will receive approximately $330 per month ($4,000 per year). The grandparents' income and assets are not considered in determining the child's benefits, and the TFA 21-month benefit limit and work requirements do not apply.

Grandparents receiving TFA because of their own financial status could include a grandchild in their existing “assistance unit” (DSS' term for a family receiving benefits). In this case, the additional benefit would be about $100 a month. Grandparents in this situation are subject to TFA's 21-month benefit limit and work requirements.

A child receiving TFA also receives Medicaid coverage.

DCF Certified Relative Care

If DCF removes the child from his home because of abuse or neglect or the child's parents die, the grandparents can ask DCF to place the child with them in “certified relative care.” This gives them the same status as foster parents, which means they will be reimbursed between $20.44 and $23.27 per day ($7,460.60 to $8,493.55, annually) depending on the child's age. In addition, they may receive a one-time payment for their cost for assuming the child's care (e.g., clothing). DCF covers the child's medical care through Medicaid.

Before certifying the grandparents, DCF must inspect their house and check the backgrounds of everyone living there. As certified relative caregivers, the grandparents must defer to the child's DCF caseworker in making most decisions about the child's care, including decisions about medical care, out-of-state visits, and school field trips. Caseworkers also visit the home periodically to check on the child and his environment.

Subsidized Guardianship

Once a child has been living with them for 18 months in certified relative care, the grandparents can ask DCF to enroll them in the subsidized guardianship program. As part of this program, the grandparents must ask the probate court to appoint them as the child's legal guardians. If they are eligible, the grandparent's subsidy will be the same as the certified relative caregiver and foster care reimbursement rate ($7,460 to $8,500 a year). They can also receive a one-time payment to cover the costs of assuming guardianship, and Medicaid will cover the child unless private health insurance is available. The subsidy amount could be lowered if the child has other assets available, such as social security benefits, TFA, or death benefits payable through a parent.

As legal guardians, the grandparents can make all decisions concerning the child's medical care, education, and upbringing.