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High costs of raising a child challenges state's most vulnerable caregivers: Grandparents
Date:6/23/2013

vailable, and accessible, to grandparents."

Many older adults in California are ineligible for public programs like Medi-Cal, housing subsidies and food benefits because they have incomes that are above, often just slightly, the federal poverty level (FPL), which is the official federal definition of poverty. Yet this definition $18,530 for a family of three and $14,710 for a family of two in 2011 is considered by many experts to be inadequate, largely because it does not take into account variations in the cost of living from state to state and county to county.

Grandparents whose incomes leave them above the FPL but below the income needed to cover their basic needs may struggle in a high-cost county such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. The costs involved in caring for a grandchild (or two) far exceed the FPL in every California county. For example, in 2011, an older couple with one grandchild who lived in a two-bedroom rental needed an income as high as $49,942 if they lived in Santa Cruz County and as low as $32,965 if they lived in Kern, the "lowest-cost" county. (See county breakdown below.)

Among the study's recommendations, the authors suggest raising the eligibility criteria for certain public programs to 200 percent of the FPL; extending state foster-care benefits to kinship caregivers; and limiting the frequency of cumbersome and bureaucratic benefit renewals (since most older adults live on fixed incomes and thus do not experience income fluctuations that require regular documenting).

The data on the costs of raising a grandchild are part of a larger release of 2011 Elder Index data on the true cost of living for older Californians. See all Elder Index 2011 data here.

Updated every two years by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, in partnership with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, the Elder Index quantifies the cost of basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter for
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Contact: Gwen Driscoll
gdriscoll@ucla.edu
310-794-0930
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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