Whether you've decided to take over the care of an abandoned grandchild, niece or nephew, or have found yourself unexpectedly looking over a child not your own, there are sources of financial assistance you can turn to for help. Some programs are designed for the general populous, such as food stamps and welfare, while others -- like subsidized guardianship -- were created with guardians in mind.
Foster Care and Adoption
Guardians can consider formally entering the minor in foster care and placing themselves as the foster parent, says the Children's Defense Fund. Foster parents receive payments to care for the child that are generally higher than welfare, which is now known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. However, foster care involves giving the local welfare agency access to your home and family situation. It's also a temporary situation while permanency is sought for the child. Guardians can also seek to legally adopt the child, if applicable. Every state offers adoption assistance payments for certain children, such as those with disabilities.
Subsidized guardianship may work for someone who feels more comfortable being a legal guardian rather than a adoptive parent or foster parent. A guardian has the legal right to make decisions for the minor. Each state's guidelines for subsidizing guardianship is different, but the end goal is the same: to ensure the well-being and safe placement of the minor when adoption and reunion with her family is out of the question.
General Assistance Programs
Financial assistance programs abound. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a food stamp program that helps families buy groceries. Benefits are based on family situation and income. TANF provides temporary cash payments on a monthly basis to families undergoing serious financial hardship. Supplemental Security Income provides monthly assistance to people who are either disabled, blind or over 65. Visit your local Department of Social Services for more information on these programs.
If the parent of the minor still has his parental right intact, he is financially responsible for his child. Guardians have the right to pursue the parent for child support payments. Child support payments are based on the parent's financial circumstances and the child's needs. Though initiating this type of procedure might make some people uncomfortable, in some situations -- such as when applying for TANF -- it's impossible to get government help without allowing the state to pursue the parent for child support.