Information for Grandparents
Grandparents caring for grandchildren are faced with many responsibilities that may strain family finances. Listed below are some programs that can help grandparents who are rearing their grandchildren.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available when a grandparent receives Social Security and has income and resources that meet specific guidelines. For more information, to go Supplemental Security Income Home Page or call your local Social Security Office.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides cash assistance to very low-income dependent children under age 18. For more information, go to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or call Texas Health and Human Services at 888.834.7406.
- Medicaid provides basic medical care to children who qualify for SSI or TANF. For more information, go to the Medicaid website, or call Texas Health and Human Services at 888.834.7406.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a national program designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford private insurance. For more information, go to Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) website, or call the Texas Health and Human Services Commission at 800.647.6558.
- Food Stamps are provided to families whose income does not exceed a mandated maximum. For more information, go to Frequently Asked Questions, or call Texas Health and Human Services at 877.556.2200. If you receive food stamps, the Better Living for Texans program may be able to help you maximize their use.
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) is a benefit for families who have modest earnings from employment and have children in the family. For more information, go to Earned Income Credit information website, or call the Internal Revenue Service at 800.829.1040.
The State of Texas operates a website, Your Texas Benefits, to help you determine if you qualify for various programs.
- SET GOALS – It’s vital that you have a sense of purpose in setting child-rearing goals. Talk about what you think is important. One of your main goals will be to help your grandchildren grow in self-responsibility and in their feelings of significance in the family.
- GUIDE – Guide your grandchild by modeling appropriate behavior. Children will learn more from what you do than from what you say. Praise and encourage their good behavior, and, as much as possible, ignore their bad behavior. Use more “yes” than “no.”
- DISCIPLINE AND TEACH – Set limits that fit the age of the child. A two year-old cannot be expected to stay in an unfenced yard unsupervised, but a well-trained five year-old probably can. Work with the child to agree on reasonable limits (protections). Children need limits to help them feel secure. An important part of discipline is teaching. Providing children with ways to learn responsibility instills fundamental values (honesty, respect) that you want your grandchildren to practice. Talk with them about why you feel these values are important.
- DETERMINE AND MONITOR – TV can teach your grandchildren many good things. But, you must also consider the risks. Many shows are more violent and show more sex than when you were rearing your children. Even the news and commercials may speak of things you don’t want your grandchildren to hear.
- NURTURE – Express affection and compassion. Hug and kiss your grandchildren. If they don’t like hugging, they will let you know. Don’t force it upon them—there may be reasons they don’t like hugging.
- LISTEN AND SPEAK – Attend to your grandchildren’s feelings and ideas. Children need to feel that it’s okay to express their feelings, no matter if they are feelings of anger, resentment, hate or hurt. Tell them that you understand. Talk through their feelings and why they may be having them.
- PROVIDE – You will now be the person who offers shelter, food, clothing, health and safety needs. Plan to celebrate special events. As much as possible, maintain important routines that the children are used to having before they came to live with you. Help the children feel connected to your family history and cultural heritage.
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Food and Nutrition
- Partnership for Food Safety Education
- Food Safety and Inspection Service
- Proper Installation of a Child Safety Seat (PDF) Spanish version available (PDF)
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Housing Safety
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Passenger Safety
- Is Your Child Ready to Stay Alone?
As the primary caregiver to your grandchildren, you need to feel confident and be healthy. There will be new stressors relating to demands on your time, energy and family resources. How will you manage these? Try to give yourself time alone or with a friend to get physical exercise. It’s healthy to cultivate interests outside your family responsibilities to keep you feeling emotionally balanced.
One way you can gain relief from stress is to meet with other grandparents who are parenting again. Offer and accept support from others when needed. You could help organize a support group in which you each share your concerns and solutions to problems with each other. This type of support group will help you realize your own personal and parenting strengths.
For more information on support groups, please see the Support Groups page on this website.
Adapted from Booker, C., James, D., and Warren, J. (1997) “Grandparents as Parents.” Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, The Texas A&M System. College Station, Texas.
and through a grant from the Brookdale Foundation
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Last updated: 27 March, 2013
Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.