Bill Would Help Grandparents Access Food, Health Care and Home Energy Assistance Programs
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Special Committee on Aging, and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced a bill that would help connect grandparents and other relative caregivers with available resources and support to raise relative children. The bipartisan Informing Grandfamilies Act would require states to directly communicate with grandparents who receive or are applying for cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provide them information about additional supports such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Medicaid. The bill would also require states to inform grandparents about potential options for the family to receive financial support on behalf of the child through the child welfare system.
Many relative caregivers are eligible for assistance programs, like TANF, to help make ends meet. However, some of these caregivers may not be accessing all of the available TANF benefits or may not be aware of other government programs that are available to help with basic needs. There may also be a benefit in ensuring that relative caregivers receive more information about how to become a legal guardian, foster parent or adoptive parent.
“Amid an economic crisis caused by the public health pandemic, grandparents who are raising their grandchildren already face unique challenges such as delaying retirement or living on a fixed income, bridging the generational divide and working through the court system to secure custody—which can be costly,” said Senator Casey. “I introduced the Informing Grandfamilies Act to further ensure that grandparents and other caregivers who are stepping in to raise relative children have access to information to help them in dealing with the financial burden of becoming parents for the second time.”
“In our country, more than 2.7 million children are being raised by grandparents and other relatives, also known as kinship caregivers. These caregivers are often left with few places to turn, and the coronavirus pandemic is only perpetuating their uncertainty and economic hardship,” said Senator Young. “Our bipartisan Informing Grandfamilies Act would ensure anyone raising relative children is aware of and has access to all available programs, resources, and supportive services already provided by the government.”
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study requested by Senator Casey indicated that more than 2.7 million children in the United States are being raised by grandparents and other relatives. While experts believe these numbers have climbed due to the recent opioid epidemic, there is a long history of grandparents and other relatives stepping in to care for children when parents are unable. And, the COVID-19 pandemic may add to those numbers. The GAO report also noted the importance of states connecting grandfamilies to a range services in their communities, including those not administered directly by child welfare agencies.
This legislation is supported by Generations United, AARP, American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Defense Fund.
Read the Informing Grandparents Act here.