Questions & Answers: Challenges for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

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Finances - Documentation - Birth Certificates - Legal
Child Care - Medical Care - Housing


We know that many issues may arise when caring for children. With this Questions and Answers section, a caregiver can feel confident that the information needed to answer even the most difficult questions is available.


Finances

  • What financial assistance is available for grandparents raising grandchildren?
  • Is my income counted to determine my grandchild's eligibility for services?


    Documentation

  • As I seek assistance, what documents should I take with me to appointments?


    Birth Certificates

  • How and where do I obtain birth certificates?


    Legal

  • I have a notarized statement from the parent to act as the temporary guardian for the grandchild. Can this statement be used as a legal document when seeking services for the grandchild?
  • Is there any low income legal assistance to help me with issues such as custody, power of attorney, or adoption?
  • Can child support payments be transferred to me now that my grandchildren are living with me?


    Child Care

  • Can I get help to pay for childcare for my grandchildren?
  • Does the childcare services include the Head Start program?
  • If I qualify for assistance to pay for childcare, can I choose the provider?
  • What should I look for when choosing a child care facility?


    Medical Care

  • I cannot afford medical insurance for my grandchild. What is available?
  • What other medical insurance is available?




    Finances

    Q. What financial assistance is available for grandparents raising grandchildren?

    A. Florida Department of Children and Families provides financial assistance to families with dependent children. To determine eligibility for services contact your local office.
    For more information, contact the Florida Department of Children and Families at: http://www.myflfamilies.com/ service-programs/access- florida-food-medical- assistance-cash/temporary- cash-assistance-tca, or calling 1-866-762-2237. 

  • Services are:

    • Food Stamps
    • Medicaid
    • School/Breakfast and Lunch Program (contact school for an application)
    • WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutritional food assistance for children under age 5 years
    • TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) - Child Only Grant
    Other Financial Assistance:
    • Florida KidCare Program. Contact: 1-888-540-5437
    • Social Security Income (SSI). Contact: 1800-772-1213 or log on to www.ssa.gov.
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    Q. Is my income counted to determine my grandchild's eligibility for services?

    A. Yes and no. For most services, eligibility for programs funded by federal, state, or local programs is usually based on family income (example: Food Stamps). However, other programs (example: Child Only Grant) is for the child and based only on the child's income. Any income you have from working, Social Security benefits, child support, and/or a pension, will generally count whether you have legal custody or guardianship of the grandchild.
    Note: We advise grandparents to apply for all services because there may be unknown exceptions that will help them qualify for the services.



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    Documentation

    Q. As I seek assistance, what documents should I take with me to appointments?

    A. It is best to call ahead to verify which documents are needed for the assistance you are seeking. Here are some documents that might be required:

    • Birth certificate of grandchildren
    • Picture ID
    • (Formal) legal document identifying your custody of the grandchildren/(Informal) notarized parental consent statement
    • Proof of residency
    • Income-check stubs for the past six (6) months
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    Birth Certificates

    Q. How and where do I obtain birth certificates?

    A. Each county is responsible for registering all birth certificates and can provide certified copies for $12.00 (cash only). In Brevard County, contact the Office of Vital Statistics at 2575 North Courtenay Pkwy, Suite 104, Merritt Island, Fl 32953, (321) 454-7163, FAX: (321) 454-7164.

    The following information is needed:
    • Valid Identification
    • Full name of the grandchild
    • Date of birth
    • Mother's full name (maiden)
    • Father's full name
    • Place of birth (Hospital and City)

    Note: If the father is not listed on the birth certificate and the paternal grandparent is the one filing for the birth certificate, that grandparent will not be able to receive the birth certificate, unless legal documentation can be presented for custody of the grandchild.



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    Legal

    Q. I have a notarized statement from the parent to act as the temporary guardian for the grandchild. Can this statement be used as a legal document when seeking services for the grandchild?

    A. Yes, but not for all services. The notarized statement is utilized at hospitals and school systems. However, some child care services do not accept the notarized statement but may grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Grandparents can petition for an exception by contacting the child care agency to appeal their decision to deny services.



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    Q. Is there any low income legal assistance to help me with issues such as custody, power of attorney, or adoption?

    A. Yes. Some free legal assistance and/or discounted fees are available from volunteer attorneys. Also, some private law firms have attorneys who will take cases on a "pro bono" (no charge) basis. Many of these free services are based on a low income requirement.



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    Q. Can child support payments be transferred to me now that my grandchildren are living with me?

    A. Yes. You will need to make an application with the Florida's Child Support Enforcement. They can help you decide what is possible in your situation. For further information contact: Florida's Child Support Enforcement Customer Service can be contacted toll free at 1-800-622-KIDS (5437) from 7:00AM to 7:00PM EST, Monday thru Friday.



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    Child Care

    Q. Can I get help to pay for childcare for my grandchildren?

    A. Yes, depending on your family income. A requirement for childcare is that the grandparent or kinship caregiver must be working and/or attending an approved training program. The program pays a portion of childcare expenses, you will have a co-pay. Contact Department of Children and Families for further information to qualify for services

    .

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    Q. Does the childcare services include the Head Start program?

    A. Yes. Head Start is a child development program for preschool children ages 3 to 5 years. It provides activities for children to help them grow physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. You must income qualify for Head Start services. For more information contact Child Care Association of Brevard County, Inc., at (321) 634-3520. Additionally, some Early Head Start programs are available for children birth to three years of age.



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    Q. If I qualify for assistance to pay for childcare, can I choose the provider?

    A. Yes. You can choose the provider you want but they must have space for your grandchildren and be willing to take the amount of money that you can pay for childcare.



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    Q. What should I look for when choosing a child care facility?

    A. It is important to visit several different facilities before you make a decision. At each facility speak with the staff who will care for your grandchild and talk with other families who use the provider. Pay attention to how clean the facility is, if staff supervise the children at all times how the children spend their time and if the program is regulated. Count the number of children and the number of adults in each classroom. Ask yourself if you would like to spend 8-10 hours every day in the program.


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    Medical Care

    Q. I cannot afford medical insurance for my grandchild. What is available?

    A. Medicaid is health insurance for low income children which cover health care costs, including doctor's visits and eye care. Medicaid eligibility is based on the child's income, not the grandparent's.



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    Q. What other medical insurance is available?

    A. Florida KidCare (1-888-540-5437) provides affordable and comprehensive health insurance. It covers children in working families that earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not able to afford regular health insurance.


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