Andrew Adesman M.D.

Building Strong Families

Online Resources for Grandparents and Other Relatives

State Laws, Subsidies, Medicaid, and Much More

Posted Oct 06, 2018

Many grandparents and other relatives wonder about state laws and requirements regarding the placement of children with family members. People eager to know more often ask each other on Facebook or other social media about the rules for custody, guardianship, adoption, and other matters like Medicaid. Sometimes others chime in with information on rules and regulations as they understand them in their own state, which may be very different from laws in other states. (And sometimes people misunderstand their own state laws.)

As a result, a state-by-state listing of information is a valuable resource, and I’m offering several such resources this month on state laws as well as one federal source that leads readers to information on their eligibility for a variety of programs. Many people also wonder if some states offer adoption or guardianship subsidies to children, and if so, what are the amounts paid to relatives. As a result, I’m also including a link that shows amounts paid for monthly subsidies in each state. Last, I offer a helpful website developed by Hazelden, my publisher, which includes an article on addiction and other resources.

General state-by-state information on the rules for relatives raising children.  This resource for grandparents raising grandchildren, jointly created by many prestigious organizations including the ABA (American Bar Association) Center on Children, the Children’s Defense Fund, the AARP, and other groups, is available at Click on your state and you can find information about public benefits, state laws, helpful organizations, and much more information. It’s easy to understand and a valuable resource, whether you want to know how many children in your state live with a relative with no parent present or you want data on grandparents raising their grandchildren in your state.  This resource also offers state-by-state information about public benefits like health insurance for children, state laws on foster care licensing, custody, whether the state offers subsidized guardianship, and much more. Check it out!

State laws regarding foster care and adoption of children in the foster care system. This next choice is a 2018 list from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.  It provides state-by-state information drawn from the actual statutes. You can also glance through this resource and see that although states may have some similar laws, in some cases, the rules are different in other states. Go to this resource at:

For example, in my home state of New York, state law presumes siblings and half-siblings should be placed together unless it is not in their best interests. In addition, family members are considered related to the child if they are within the third degree of relationship. First degree relatives are parents and siblings. Second degree relatives are grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Third degree relatives are great grandparents, great aunts and great uncles, and second cousins. In some other states, the relatives who are considered are simply listed or the degree of relationship is listed.

Adoption and guardianship assistance (subsidies) paid by states. Some states provide monthly payments to grandparents and other relatives who adopted the child through the state foster care system. This is a monthly adoption subsidy until the child is 18 years old, and the amount varies considerably from state to state. Children who receive a state adoption subsidy usually also receive Medicaid. Some states also offer guardianship subsidies. The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) offers a helpful state by state chart on the amount of the payment for adoption and guardianship subsidies. Go to:

A guide to federal benefits:  This website by the federal government provides access to information on more than 1,200 federal and state benefit and assistance programs. According to this website: “ can help you start your search by connecting you to benefits you may be eligible to receive. Our Benefit Finder, a confidential eligibility questionnaire, helps to see if you qualify for programs from across multiple Federal agencies. exists to simplify the process for citizens searching for benefit and assistance information, to help determine potential eligibility, and to provide next steps for how to apply.”  

General resources for grandparents from Hazelden. My last resource is a helpful website with links to an article on addiction as well as links to my Psychology Today blog and other sources.  Go to: If the child’s parent is an addict and you want to learn more about this topic, you may wish to go directly to this site:

Soon it should be even easier for grandparents raising grandchildren to find information specific to them. That is the primary goal of the recently passed federal Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, whose mission is to provide resources to help relative caregivers meet the health, educational, nutritional and other needs of the children in their care as well as maintain their own physical and mental health and emotional well-being.

Last, because of the potential complexities of legal issues, it’s a good idea to check with a family law attorney for information on state legal matters.

Please let me know if you would like to see more resource information or you would prefer to learn about other topics related to raising your grandchild or other child. Also, if you are aware of sites that would be helpful to our readers, please let us know. Thanks!

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