Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Nutrition Important for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

As of 2013, nearly 2.7 million grandparents stepped up to become parents to kids once again. This is an increase of about 64,100 adults from 2008. In nearly 900,000 of these grandparent-led households, no parent is present and the median income is $35,685, the U.S. Census Bureau reports.For more than 569,200 grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren, their incomes are so low that they are in poverty. In 2008, about 492,800 of these grandparents reported incomes below the poverty level. -   -Article in Equal Voice
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There are many stories about grandparents raising their grandchildren full time. And there are several websites that offer resources to the grandparents who have found themselves as the parents, including Piecing Hearts Together Again and Grandfamilies. It is important that lower income families have access to public assistance including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). And we must make sure that these programs are fully funded--so that they can support everyone who qualifies.

"Eligibility for SNAP depends on the number of people in the household and the household’s total income. Other expenses, such as dependent care costs, medical deductions, earned income deduction, child support, and some shelter costs are also considered in determining benefits," said a paper published by the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. The members of the SNAP household must also be U.S. citizens or legal non- citizens. Eligibility requirements for SNAP are not reduced for grandparents raising grandchildren; as a result, the grandparents’ income is considered."

USDA-Funded Program Helps Part-Time Caretakers in New Mexico
The not-so-extreme situation is when grandparents become the caretakers of the children during the day when the parent or parents are working. Whether a grandparent is a full-time or part-time caretaker, it is important to ensure that the children have access to nutritious meals--and this might not be possible if the household falls below the poverty level.

To help the part-time grandparents, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed  the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

 CACFP provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons. Through CACFP, more than 3.3 million children and 120,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks each day as part of the day care they receive.

In New Mexico, the YWCA Providers Alliance for Nutrition (PAN) food program is set up to help grandparents who are caring for their children to gain access to healthy, nutritious meals while they are away from their parents. " Proper nutrition in childhood helps create healthy, productive adult members of society and helps to reduce many health related problems," said PAN-YWCA, which receives funding from the CACFP for the program.

To qualify a person must be caring for at least one child that doesn't live with them.  They also must be able to pass a background check and may be eligible to claim their own children under age 13 when the non-resident children are present.

Here is a three-step process for New Mexico grandparents seeking to participate in the PAN-YWCA program

1. CYFD Home Visit
To become a registered home child care provider you must contact Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) to arrange for a Child Care Specialist (CCS) to visit your home and to give you all needed information on the registration process. Please call 841-4842 to receive a printed instruction packet and to ask any questions you may have. Follow this link to obtain an application for a background check. Follow the directions carefully and if you have any questions call 841-4842.

You will begin by having a background check completed and the charge for this process is $44  [My editorial comment: How are grandparents or parents on limited income able to afford this fee?]. The  instructions about how to complete this process can be found at the New Mexico Kids website or by calling 841-4842.

You will receive a clearance letter in the mail in up to 6 weeks. You will also need to have a brief background review for anyone in your home that is 18 or older. This process is different than the fingerprinting for you and you should call 841-4842 for more information on how to complete this process. There is no fee attached to the background check for your adult household members

2. Home Registration through CYFD
After receiving your approved background check clearance letter please call 841-4842 again to make an appointment with a Child Care Specialist. Registration costs $15 and is payable by money order at time of visit.

3. Call the YWCA PAN Food Program
After you have completed the above steps call PAN at 254-9922 and ask for a PAN staff member. You will be assigned a PAN field Representative who will visit your home and conduct an orientation to the program and help you complete your required paperwork. You have successfully completed the process and are off to a great start caring for our most precious resource – the children of our community! We are thrilled to work with you. There is no charge for this process.

Amount of Reimbursement
The average amount of reimbursement is roughly $90/month per child, depending on the number of hours you care for the child. You are allowed to claim two main meals and 1 snack for each child per day. The current reimbursement rates are listed in the box to the right and change annually. Your PAN Field Representative will discuss your specific situation with you to ensure you receive the correct amount of reimbursement.

Reimbursement Rates
Breakfast - $1.31
Lunch/Supper - $2.47
Snacks - $0.73

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