Kinship Care


What is kinship care?

Kinship care is when children are raised by an adult other than their parents, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, godparent, adult sibling, or even a close family friend.

If I am providing kinship care, can I receive financial help?

You can apply for public assistance benefits if you are raising children who are not your own. Your income and financial status do not matter. You do not need to provide any financial information about yourself. By law, you are only financially responsible for your own children

Do I need legal custody of the children to get public assistance benefits?

You do not need legal custody to get public assistance benefits. The Department of Social Services may ask for some proof that the children are living with you, such as a letter from their school, parent, or Child Protective Services worker.

Can the children get public assistance benefits?

If the children have little or no other income (such as Social Security or child support payments) they can get cash assistance for basic needs and food and shelter. They can also get Medicaid. The amounts that caretakers get are less than a foster care subsidy.

Can the children get food stamps?

The children can only get food stamps if you, the caretaker, are eligible for food stamps. If you do apply for food stamps, you will need to give financial information.

How do I apply for assistance?

To apply for public assistance, contact your local Department of Social Services (DSS) or welfare office.

Can I become a foster parent?

You have the right to apply to become a foster parent for children in your care.

Are there any benefits to being a foster parent?

Foster parents receive a larger monthly stipend. Other benefits, such as a clothing allowance, are available. However, you must be willing to give custody of the children to the local DSS.

Where else can I find help?

The Monroe County Legal Assistance Center (MCLAC) has a joint project with the Catholic Family Center to help kinship care families. You can call them at (585) 262-7048 or visit them on the web at

The New York State Kinship Navigator also has information on kinship care. You can call them toll free at (877) 454-6463 or visit them on the web at also has useful information on kinship care and other family problems. You can visit them on the web at



* * * * *

(c) Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ®

This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer.  Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.

Additional information