If you are a grandparent raising grandchildren and you are at least 55 years old, you need to know about the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), signed into law in 2000. It provides five categories of supportive services to grandparents and other relatives who are raising children and to family caregivers of older individuals. The original law set the age for eligibility at 60, but it has since been lowered to 55.
A caregiver who is a grandparent, stepgrandparent or other relative of a child and who lives with the child while serving as the primary caregiver may be eligible for assistance. The kinship care providers may have a legal relationship to the child, such as legal custody or guardianship, or may be raising the child "informally." The child's parents must be unable or unwilling to serve as primary caregivers.
- Information about available services
- Assistance in gaining access to the services
- Individual counseling, support, and training in the areas of health, nutrition, financial literacy, decision-making and problem-solving.
- Respite care
- Supplemental services
Categories were purposely kept broad, to give the agencies involved leeway to provide the services most needed. For example, legal services are sometimes supplied under the fifth category.
The Administration on Aging (AoA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, administers the program and allocates funds to the states based on their percentage of the nation's over-70 population. The states then fund Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to carry out the programs. States must provide matching funds equal to a quarter of their federal allocation.