Search this site:

Get the Savvy Consumer Newsletter! (FREE)

Consumer Focus

Home > Consumer Focus Archive > Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (Part 1) > Grandparents Rasing Grandchildren (Part 2)
Consumer Focus: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Image of a grandmother
and granddaughter baking

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

One of the biggest and most challenging tasks facing families today involves grandparents parenting their grandchildren. Many grandparents are faced with a number of physical, emotional, and financial adjustments they must make in order to support their grandchildren.


Image of a child in a car seat

Rules for the Road

There are many aspects to vehicle safety. Whether your grandchildren are infants or teens, there are several things grandparents should always be aware of. From car seats to driving lessons, here are some tips for traveling safely.

Confused About Car Seats?

There are three basic types of car seats, each designed to fit children of various ages and weights: infant seats, convertible seats, and booster seats.

  • Infant seats are suitable for a child from birth up to about 20 pounds or one year of age. Infant seats always face the rear of the car.
  • Convertible seats do "double duty", both as infant seats in the rear-facing position, and later turned forward and upright for toddlers. They are for a child from birth up to about 40 pounds.
  • Booster seats are suitable for toddlers weighing more than 40 pounds, until the child reaches age 8 or a height of 4'9".

With the wide variety of child restraint systems, belt systems and passenger vehicles, correctly installing a child restraint system can be challenging. Making the right connections will help improve overall protection for your grandchild. Always read child restraint and vehicle manufacturers' instructions for proper use and installation information. Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website for locations of car seat safety inspection stations to be sure the seat is installed properly, product information, and recalls. Remember, correct use is easy if you follow 4 simple steps:

  1. Completely read the manufacturer's instructions for your car seat.
  2. Face the seat in the correct direction.
  3. Secure the safety seat with a safety belt.
  4. Secure your child snugly in the safety seat.

* Don't put children under age 12 in the front seat. The safest place is always in the back seat.

Teens Behind the Wheel

Getting a driver's license means more independence for teenage grandchildren, and even bigger concerns for grandparents. Teenagers have the highest crash risk of any age group. Compared with accidents of older drivers, those of 16 year-olds more often involve driver error. Factors contributing to accidents and serious injuries include, but are not limited to: distractions (such as additional teenage passengers; cell phone use or changing a CD); night driving; alcohol; and low seat belt use.

Not all states require a learner's permit before obtaining a driver's license (and some permits are held for only a minimum length of time), so the time you spend behind the wheel with your teen is important - make it count! Whether your state has a strict licensing procedure or not, grandparents can impose their own graduated system where driving privileges are phased in. When you understand the risk factors involved in letting your teenage grandchild behind the wheel, you can act to improve the situation for your own teen.

  • Don't rely solely on high school driver education classes. Consider additional classes and training outside the school.
  • Restrict night driving until the teen has had more experience behind the wheel and has proven he/she has obtained the skills for driving at night.
  • Supervise practice driving - including night driving.
  • Restrict passengers. Teen passengers in a vehicle can distract a beginning driver and/or lead to greater risk taking.
  • Require seat belt use.


Image of dollar bills

Financial Options

The growth in the number of children who now live with their grandparents is increasing and, in many instances, grandparents often have limited or fixed incomes on which to live and provide financial support for their grandchildren. Grandparents face a number of challenges as they try to provide homes for their grandchildren.

Financial Assistance

State funds providing financial and support services for grandparent caregivers are limited, but they may provide programs such as:

  • Subsidized Guardianship: Some states offer monthly payments to relatives who become the legal guardians of children in their care. Each state has its own criteria a relative must meet before one can participate in the program.
  • Adoption Assistance: Both federal and state programs can offer help to adoptive parents. These programs provide a monthly subsidy for the child. The adopting parents (who may be grandparents) do not have to meet any financial eligibility criteria to receive adoption assistance on behalf of the child. In addition, federal legislation makes medical assistance, payment of legal fees and non-recurring expenses available to adoptive parents.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: TANF offers financial help to families with a low income. Specific rules mandate that work requirements be met if a caregiver requests financial assistance for himself/herself and the child. However, state policies vary in this area (as well as with the type of grant you receive), so you need to check with your regional office of the Administration for Children and Families.

Tax Tips

Grandparents raising grandchildren may be eligible to pay lower taxes. If you are a grandparent who had income from work and can claim a "qualifying child," you may qualify for any or all of the following:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can provide tax credits to working grandparents who are raising children, thereby reducing or eliminating federal income taxes. You must meet income requirements, which vary depending on how many grandchildren you are raising.
  • The Child and Dependent Care Credit helps families who must pay for childcare in order to work or look for work. The amount of the credit depends on the number of children, family income, and the amount paid for care.
  • The Child Tax Credit can also be claimed on your federal income tax. It reduces the federal income tax but, like the Child and Dependent Care Credit, does not provide refunds over the amount of income tax paid. Grandparents can be eligible for both the Earned Income Credit and the Child tax Credit and, in some instances, may be eligible for an Additional Child Tax Credit.



Other Resources

This is just a brief overview. For more information on grandparents raising grandchildren check out these resources.

Read these publications online:


* Names of resources and organizations included in this online article are provided as examples only, and their inclusion does not mean that they are endorsed by the Savvy Consumer Information Center or any Government agency. Also, if a particular resource or organization is not mentioned, this does not mean or imply that it is unsatisfactory.

*If you click on these links, you are leaving our website. Please bookmark us before you leave so you can return easily. We is not responsible for the content of these websites.



Enjoy this month's Focus?  Share this information with a friend and spread the word!

Enter recipient's e-mail address:

We will not retain or use this information for any other purpose.


For more information on other popular consumer issues check out our Consumer Focus Archive.


Search this site:

Get the Savvy Consumer Newsletter! (FREE)