In the UK alone, there are thousands of children who are being cared for full time by their grandparents and while these grandchildren are most definitely welcomed and loved, providing such care can sometimes be a financial burden for their grandparents.
There is help available for grandparents in need, however, and such assistance can make it far easier to handle raising a second generation.
Determining Financial Need for Grandparents
Some grandparents have the means to support their grandchildren, but others may not be so fortunate.
Young grandparents may still be raising their own children when the need arises to take on grandkids, and older grandparents have often retired and may be living on fixed incomes, leaving little extra for the unexpected expenses associated with raising their children’s children.
Grandparenting is sometimes all about special treats and fun outings, but for other grandparents, the responsibilities of parenthood return when they step in to raise their grandchildren.
The willingness to offer everyday help is quite a gift, and there is no shame in applying for and accepting financial aid.
Child Benefits and Child Tax Credits
Grandparents who have grandchildren living with them qualify for child benefits and should contact their local authority for advice. Unfortunately, benefit amounts tend to vary a great deal and are given at the discretion on the authority, so there is no guarantee that the amounts will be sufficient to help make ends meet.
Some benefits, such as child tax credits, are available only to grandparents if they’ve made the commitment to take permanent responsibility for the child(ren).
Residence Orders and Special Guardianships
Residence orders specify where a child is to live and typically gives the parents shared responsibility for the care of the child.
When a residence order is in place, the local authority may pay out an allowance to help with some of the costs of child rearing.
Grandparents who have applied for residence orders for the care of their grandkids may wish to seek the advice of a solicitor to assure that they receive all of the benefits that they are eligible for.
Special guardianships provide a permanent solution for grandparents who are taking care of their grandchildren due to the children’s parents’ inability or unwillingness to provide hands-on care, but when adoption is not deemed to be the best answer.
A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) allows the grandparents to make most decisions regarding the care and welfare of the grandchildren in their care whilst preserving the parents’ legal rights as parents, should they one day become more capable of resuming their parental responsibilities.
Grandparents who have been granted special guardianships should contact their local authority if they are in need of financial or other types of assistance.
Payments may be determined in a case by case basis, with the level of need considered when granting either ongoing payments or in some instances, single payments or short term help.
Children who have been placed with their grandparents may be troubled and may have experienced any variety of traumas that resulted in their need to live apart from their parents.
Grandparents with SGOs who feel that their grandchildren would benefit from counselling services may be able to get help from their local authority in accessing and paying for such services.
The local authority will do all that they can to see that children are provided with sufficient funds and services to make their transition as seamless as possible.