Benefits for grandparents and other relatives raising children


If you're raising a relative's child or considering whether to take on that responsibility, you may be entitled to government benefits. The amount of help you can get to pay for the child's needs can depend on whether you have a guardianship order or an adoption order, are informally caring for a child, or are a foster parent (a child has been placed with you by the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development).

Important: It's very important to speak to a lawyer or qualified community advocate before you get a guardianship order, sign an agreement to provide foster care, or adopt a child. They can help you with your application and tell you how your benefits would be affected. If the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is providing services for the child, you must also consult with the responsible child protection worker for guidance.

Here are some websites that can help you find out which benefits you may be entitled to:

The first table below ("Who's eligible for benefits?") lists some of the benefits that may be available to people who are caring for a relative's child, and when you may be able to receive them. Be aware that there are financial and other eligibility requirements for some of these benefits. For more information, see the websites listed in the second table below ("Where can I find out more?").

Tip: Many of the benefits listed below are available to non-relatives as well as relatives, but double-check with the appropriate agency to find out for sure.

Who's eligible for benefits?

Benefit Adoption Guardianship order Foster care (placement by the ministry)
The Extended Family Program offered by MCFD (replaced the Child in Home of a Relative Benefits in April 2010) No No* No*
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Benefits for Children under 25 (based on disability or death of a parent or other person who had care and control of the child and had contributed to CPP) No Yes** No. Benefits go to the Public Trustee to be held for the child.
Income tax deduction for dependents with disabilities Yes Yes** No
Child Disability Benefit Yes Yes** No
Canada Child Tax Benefit Yes Yes** No
Universal Child Care Benefit (for children under age 6) Yes Yes** Yes
Employment Insurance (EI) Family Supplement Yes Yes** No
Child Care Subsidy (for parents with low incomes or if recommended by MCFD) Yes Yes** Yes
Regular Income Assistance Benefits (including PPMB and PWD benefits) Yes, the child is considered part of your family unit under that legislation. Not on behalf of the child, who's eligible instead for the Child in the Home of a Relative or Extended Family Program benefits (see above), which pays more than income assistance. The caregiver remains eligible for income assistance benefits.** No, but receipt of basic family foster care rate doesn't affect the caregiver's own eligibility for income assistance benefits.
Foster Parent payments and benefits No, but there are some exceptions (like post-adoption assistance) No Yes
Maintenance (child support) from the biological parents of the children No Yes** (but is deducted from Child in the home of a Relative Benefits) No (Any maintenance payments go to MCFD)
BC's Adoption Expense Tax Credit Yes No No
BC's Children's Education Fund Yes (if the child born after January 1, 2007, and adopted by parents who live in BC, and the child later goes to post-secondary school in BC) Yes** (if child born after January 1, 2007, to biological parents who live in BC, and the child later goes to post-secondary school in BC) Yes (if child born after January 1, 2007, to biological parents who live in BC, and the child later goes to post-secondary school in BC)


* The MCFD interim policy and procedures (April 2010) limit eligibility for Extended Family Program benefits to caregivers who don't have guardianship of the child. They also require that the child's parents agree to allow the caregivers and child to participate.

**
These benefits may also be available to caregivers who don't have a guardianship order.

Tip: This table provides general information only and doesn't cover social benefits in particular situations. Rules change and there are exceptions, so double-check whether this information applies to you.

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Where can I find out more?

Benefit For more information
Extended Family Program

Ministry of Children and Family Development (for new applications)

Parent Support Services Society (includes support services for grandparents raising grandchildren)

Understanding the Extended Family Program (fact sheet) on the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Benefits for Children under 25 (based on disability or death of a parent or other person who had care and control of the child and had contributed to CPP) CPP Benefits for Children under 25
Income tax deduction for dependents with disabilities My child has a disability. Is my child eligible? on the Canada Revenue Agency website
Child Disability Benefit Child Disability Benefit on the Canada Revenue Agency website
Canada Child Tax Benefit Canada Child Tax Benefit on the Canada Revenue Agency website
Universal Child Care Benefit (for children under age 6) Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) on the Canada Revenue Agency website
Employment Insurance (EI) Family Supplement Employment Insurance (EI) Family Supplement on the Employment Insurance website
Child Care Subsidy (for parents with low incomes or if recommended by MCFD) Child Care Subsidy on the MCFD website
Regular Income Assistance Benefits (including PPMB and PWD benefits) Your Guide to Employment and Assistance and the Income and Exemptions Policy page (scroll down and click on "Ministry of Children and Family Development: Feb. 1, 2005" to find information about foster care payments) on the Ministry of Housing and Social Development website
Foster Parent payments and benefits Foster Care on the MCFD website
Maintenance (child support) from the biological parents of the children To find out how to apply for child support, see the self-help guides for getting an interim family order on this website
BC's Adoption Expense Tax Credit BC's Adoption Expense Tax Credit and Children's Education Fund on the Adoptive Families Association of BC website
BC's Children's Education Fund Children's Education Fund on the Ministry of Finance website

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