Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: Information and Assistance Services
According to the U.S. Census 2000, more than six million children across the country are living in households maintained by grandparents or other relatives.1 More than 2.4 million grandparents have the primary responsibility for meeting the basic needs of these children.2 Factors such as parental substance abuse, incarceration, HIV/AIDS, death, poverty, and even military
deployments are causing growing numbers of grandparents and other relatives to step forward to keep families together.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)3 was created in 2000 as an addition to the Older Americans Act (OAA). Administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the NFCSP calls for all states, working in partnership with Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and local community-service providers to offer five categories of support services for grandparents and other relatives aged 60 and older who are relative caregivers of children, and family caregivers of individuals aged 60 and older .4
The five categories of support services include:
- Information to caregivers about available services;
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services;
- Individual counseling, organization of support groups, caregiver training;
- Respite care; and
- Supplemental services to complement care provided by caregivers.5
Information and Assistance Services
Information and Assistance (I&A) services are provided through the first two categories of the NFCSP. They are intended to help caregivers determine their needs, find information about available services, and gain access to the most appropriate services available. Information and assistance systems are the vital link between caregivers who need services and those individuals in the community who can provide them.
Growing numbers of grandparents and other relatives raising children need relevant and specific information. Relative caregivers must deal with complicated systems of child welfare, education, health care, and the aging network. They must traverse issues related to maintaining financial resources for the children in their care, enrolling the children in school, accessing health care and insurance, and obtaining adequate housing.
Grandparents and other relatives raising children are in a particularly unique situation in that they may be able to access services from both the aging network and agencies serving children. Twenty-nine percent of grandparent caregivers
are over the age of 60.6 Therefore, they may have access to services through the NFCSP. Further, relative caregivers of all ages may also be able to access aging network services available through other funding sources, in addition to services
available through agencies serving children. However, caregivers often need help understanding what services are available and whether they qualify as they face many overlapping federal and state programs and different eligibility requirements.
National non-profits, government agencies, State Offices/Units on Aging (SUA), Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), and other state and local service providers operate I&A programs to help relative-maintained families. This factsheet highlights specific national I&A services, which can be accessed by relative caregivers, from around the country. It also describes innovative state
and local I&A programs, which may serve as model state programs.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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