Caring for a Relative's Child: The Kinship Care Subsidy Program (FAQs)
Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (Hammond Office)
FAQs About the Kinship Care Subsidy Program
I have 2 kids in my house. The mother is on the street and the father is in jail. Where can I get some money to help me care for the kids? +
You may be able to get help from the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services. There is a program called the "Kinship Care Subsidy Program." It gives monthly cash payments to eligible caretakers. You have to be a "qualified relative."
How do we have to be related? +
A "qualified relative" is someone in the 5th degree of relationship, either by birth or by adoption. This includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, first cousins, nieces, nephews, and other relatives at a farther degree (for example, great-great-grandparents). It includes step-fathers, step-mothers, and step-brothers or sisters. It includes the spouse of any of these listed relatives.
What kind of money does the Kinship Care Subsidy Program pay? +
The amount increases every year. For up-to-date figures, check the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services website.
Does it matter how much money I make? +
Yes. The program looks at all income coming into the house where the child lives. To get benefits from this program, total countable family income must be less than 150% of federal poverty guidelines, and each child's personal monthly income must be less than the current monthly program payment. Whether your family income is too high to get benefits from this program depends on how many people live with you and what your total income is. Just because you or others in your house work does not mean that you shouldn't apply. You may still be eligible for benefits under this program.
Do I have to have legal custody? +
Not for the first year you get benefits. But after one year, the payments will stop if you don't have custody. You can get legal custody by getting a court order. But, if you can get the parent(s) to give you custody, you don't have to go to court. Just have the parent(s) sign, in front of a notary, a form called "Provisional Custody by Mandate." Most legal aid programs will help you with this. Or, you can use the sample form that is on this website. Have it signed before a notary by a parent and two witnesses. A similar form must be done each year, because the form is only good for one year from signing. If you do not have an up to date custody order or form when your Kinship Care comes up for annual review, the benefits will end.
Are there any other rules that I should know about? +
One rule is that you can't get benefits if, within a year of applying, you have a drug-related felony conviction or have been released from jail after a conviction of a drug-related felony. Another rule is you must help the state try to get child support from the parents unless you have "good cause" (for example, you are afraid the parents may get mad and hurt you, or you have health problems that make it hard for you to work with the state on this). Let your worker know if you have a problem. If they don't work with you, talk with a lawyer. For a full list of rules, see the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services website.
Can I get Welfare AND a Kinship Care Subsidy? +
No. If you are eligible for both, you have to choose one. It may be better for you to get welfare, even if the monthly payments are lower than the Kinship Care Subsidy Program, because other benefits worth money may come with welfare. It also may be better for you to get a Kinship Care Subsidy, because it has no time limit for how long you can get it. Welfare has a time limit. If you are not sure which is better, talk with a state worker. If you are still not sure, talk with a lawyer.
I'm on welfare now. I want to get in the Kinship Care Subsidy Program but my worker won't let me. What can I do? +
Be sure you know which program would be better for you. Try to talk with the worker's supervisor. If you are not satisfied, talk with a lawyer.
I applied and was turned down. What can I do now? +
You have the right to ask for a "fair hearing." This is an informal, but taped, hearing in front of a state employee called an "administrative law judge." You have to ask for this on time (within 30 days of the date that the notice denying your application was mailed to you). Keep a copy of your appeal. You can represent yourself. You can also have someone represent you. Talk with a lawyer if you can.
Where and how do I apply for the Kinship Care Subsidy Program? +
You can apply online, visit your local Economic Stability Parish office, or download a form to fill out by hand and mail in. You can call 1-888-LAHELPU (1-888-524-3478).