Kinship Care Relationships and Possible Benefits

Last Updated On: 2/28/2018 7:51:14 PM

Introduction to kinship caregivers of children

A kinship caregiver is a relative who is raising the child of another family member. The most common example is a grandparent raising a grandchild. Another kind of kinship caregiver is a non-relative that the child considers to be a family member. Even if that person is not a blood relative, they can still be a kinship caregiver.

Kinship care arrangements can be informal or formal. An informal kinship care arrangement does not involve the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). For a formal kinship arrangement, the relatives are certified foster parents for a child in state custody.

I am caring for a family member’s child but do not have a written agreement. Can I receive any benefits to help care for the child?

You should apply for a TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) child-only check. In West Virginina the TANF Program is called WV Works.  You can do this at your local DHHR office. The DHHR may require a more formal agreement to prove you are the child’s caregiver. TANF child-only checks are cash assistance provided to people who care for children. These checks are $262 per month per child.

TANF child only grants do not consider the caretaker’s income. The cash assistance is provided once a month via an EBT (Electronic Banking Transfer) card or direct deposit.

I am a non-relative caring for a child. Can I receive any benefits to help care for the child?

You should apply for a TANF child-only check. However, you will be denied because you are not a blood relative of the child. Once you are denied, you can apply to receive a Kinship Check. You can receive this Kinship Check while you wait to be approved as a foster care placement. The Kinship Check is equal in amount to a TANF child-only check. It is an emergency stipend provided to assist with care for the child while foster care paperwork is processed.

I am the foster care placement for a family member’s child. What benefits can I receive?

If you are a certified foster parent, you may receive a Foster Care Subsidy of $600 per child per month. The child is also eligible for Medicaid and School Clothing Vouchers. You may also receive a one-time clothing allowance of up to $300 per child. Child care assistance may be available if the foster parent is employed or in school. You can also be reimbursed for mileage when you take the child to supervised visits with family and to the doctor.

The child may also be eligible for the Foster Care Tuition Waiver program. This program will allow the child to go to a West Virginia public institution of higher education. 

What is a guardianship? Why would I need a guardianship for a child?

A guardianship is the transfer of legal responsibility for a child to someone other than the parents. This is a legally binding relationship. It allows the guardian to have custody and make decisions about the child.

For more information, including when a guardianship might be necessary, please read the article on Infant Guardianships.

Can I receive any benefits for the child if I have a legal guardianship?

The caretaker may receive a monthly subsidy to help cover expenses. Also, a one-time subsidy of up to $2,000 is available to cover legal expenses for the guardianship proceedings. This subsidy can also be used for the child’s expenses. The child is also eligible for Medicaid.

What does it mean to adopt a child?

Adoption is a legal process where someone other than a birth parent receives all legal rights and responsibilities for a child. An adoption permanently ends the rights of the birth parents to the adopted child.

Please read the article on Adoption for more information on adopting a child.

Can I receive any benefits during or after the adoption is complete?

The child is still eligible for Medicaid and School Clothing Vouchers while you wait for the adoption.

If the state had custody of the child before the adoption, a monthly subsidy may continue after the adoption to cover the child’s expenses. The child will still be eligible for Medicaid. A one-time subsidy of up to $2,000 is available to cover legal expenses for the adoption proceedings. If the new parent receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the newly adopted child will be eligible to receive a check on the parent’s behalf.

Please read the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) & Supplemental Security Income (SSI) article for more information.

I need time off from work to help care for the child. Do I have any options?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks. If your employer is covered by FMLA, you may be able to take leave to care for an adopted or foster child.

Who should call Legal Aid?

If you need more assistance, please call our Application Line at 1-866-255-4370 to apply for services. You can also apply online.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.