Definition of a Grandparent or Older Individual Who is a Relative Caregiver
The NFCSP defines “grandparent or older individual who is a relative caregiver” as follows:
…a grandparent or stepgrandparent of a child, or a relative of a child by blood, marriage or adoption, who is 55 years of age or older and –
(A) lives with the child;
(B) is the primary caregiver of the child because the biological or adoptive parents are unable or unwilling to serve as the primary caregiver of the child; and
(C) has a legal relationship to the child, such as legal custody or guardianship, or is raising the child informally.
Although there are few formal national studies on the issue, ample anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of relative caregivers are raising children “informally,” which means that they are raising children without a legal relationship such as guardianship or legal custody. It is therefore very useful to grandfamilies that the law specifically mentions informal caregivers. Generations United educated Members of Congress to include them, and they eventually were.
The following are the five categories of support services delineated in the NFCSP:
(1) information to caregivers about available services;
(2) assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services;
(3) individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training to assist the caregivers in the areas of health, nutrition, and financial literacy and in making decisions and solving problems relating to their caregiving roles;
(4) respite care to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved from their caregiving responsibilities; and
(5) supplemental services, on a limited basis, to complement the care provided by caregivers.
These categories are written to be flexible and respond to the needs of the caregivers in the area being served. The fifth category, supplemental services, is particularly broad.
The NFCSP requires the AAAs, or the agency it contracts with, to coordinate the provision of support services with community agencies and voluntary organizations that are providing similar supportive services. Some of the most successful AAAs that serve these families are those that have collaborations with a broad range of community based organizations, including institutions and organizations associated with serving children, such as schools and Head Start programs.
The NFCSP includes a provision stating that states must give priority for services to older individuals with the greatest social and economic need. Furthermore, specifically for grandparents or older individuals who are relative caregivers, states must give priority to those caregivers who provide care for children with severe disabilities.
Matching and Maintenance of Effort Requirements
The NFCSP has a requirement that each state match 25 percent of its federal allocation. Additionally, the NFCSP includes a maintenance of effort requirement, which provides that funds made available through the NFCSP must supplement, not replace, any federal, state or local funds spent by a state or local government to provide similar services.