Finding Help with Expenses

Raising children is expensive. No matter how much you love the children in your care, you have to be practical. Before the children came to live with you, you probably had a budget that met your needs (or, at least, almost did). Now it may be strained to the breaking point. This section looks at government programs that may help you provide for the children in your care.

Kinship Permanency Incentive Program
  • The Kinship Permanency Incentive (KPI) program provides temporary financial support for minor children in the legal and physical custody of grandparents, relatives or other "kinship caregivers:' (Ohio law defines a kinship caregiver as any relative or non-relative adult who has a longstanding relationship or bond with the child and/or family.)
  • The KPI program is designed to promote permanent commitments by kinship caregivers, by helping defray some of the costs of caring for children.
  • KPI provides time-limited incentive payments to families caring for their kin.
  • Initial payment to defray costs of initial placement.
  • Subsequent payments at six month intervals to support the stability of the child's placement in the home.
  • The maximum incentive amount may not exceed eight payments and will not be provided for longer than forty-eight months.
  • Participation in this program does not preclude these families from also receiving child-only Ohio Works First benefits. To apply, eligible kinship caregivers need to fill out an application at their local public children service agency.
Woman and Child
To be eligible for the Kinship Permanency Incentive, the following conditions must be met:
  • A court must have awarded the kinship caregiver legal custody or guardianship of the child on or after July 1, 2005.
  • A public children service agency must have approved the placement and conducted a home assessment.
  • The gross income of the caregiver's family, including the child, may not exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Ohio Works First

Kinship caregivers and the children in their care can apply for monthly cash assistance through the Ohio Works First (OWF) program. In order to be eligible for OWF, you must be related by blood or marriage, or be a legal guardian or custodian to the children in your care. There are two ways kinship caregivers can receive OWF benefits. The first is for you to receive income only for the children in your care. In these cases, the county department of job and family services will not take into account any of your income and will not provide money for you as part of the OWF grant for the children. These are called child-only cases. You will generally be able to receive this money until the child turns 18 or leaves your home.

If you have a child-only grant, you will not be impacted by many of the OWF requirements that you may have heard about (such as work requirements or time limits). However, in order to receive child-only OWF assistance, you must be willing to cooperate with child support requirements to ensure that the child's parents are held financially responsible. You should call a legal service provider if you have more specific questions about receiving this benefit.

The second way for you to receive OWF for the child(ren) in your care is to be part of the grant yourself. This means that the county department of job and family services will look at your income, and if you are eligible for OWF, include you as part of the grant. You will receive more money because the grant will be for both you and the child(ren) in your care.

However, the OWF work and time-limit requirements will apply to you. This means that you will probably be required to work and will be limited to three years of OWF assistance. If you are not sure which type of grant to apply for, it is a good idea to consult with a legal service provider.

Most kinship caregivers receive child-only grants and do not have to worry about work requirements or time limits. One problem many kinship caregivers face during the application process is proving that they are related to the child. You can generally use birth certificates to prove your relationship to the child. In complicated situations, you may need affidavits or other types of proof. If you are having trouble proving your relationship, you should seek help from a legal services provider. Apply on-line for Ohio Works First assistance, or by filling out the "Request for Cash, Food and Medical Assistance" (JFS 7200) form and submitting it to your county department of job and family services.

Food Assistance

If you are eligible, you can use Food Assistance benefits (formerly known as food stamps) instead of cash to buy food at the grocery store. The benefits are approved and placed on a plastic debit card that can be used anywhere in the US. You may use the card by swiping it and entering your personal identification number (PIN). The amount of your purchase will then be automatically deducted from your account. No sales tax is charged on Food Assistance purchases. These benefits cannot be used to buy non-food items such as soap, diapers, alcohol or tobacco, or hot food purchases that are prepared to be eaten immediately.

You can apply on-line for Food Assistance or by filling out the "Request for Cash, Food and Medical Assistance" (JFS 7200) form and submitting it to your county department of job and family services. Your county department of job and family services will decide whether you are eligible by looking at the gross income and counted liquid assets of everyone in the household. Gross income includes almost all cash income, except things like loans and student financial aid. Counted liquid assets include cash, checking and savings accounts. Resources do not include the value of your home or residence, your vehicle or your furnishings. If you have a child-only OWF grant for the children in your care, your income and assets may be too high for your family to obtain Food Assistance, Still, if you think you might be eligible, you should apply for both programs. If your household is in a crisis situation, you may be able to get expedited Food Assistance within seven days. You qualify for expedited food stamps if (1) the members of your household have a combined monthly income of $100, (2) your income and resources are not enough to pay the rent or mortgage and utilities this month, or (3) your household is homeless.

* Note: For expedited Food Assistance, only identification is required for verification. If you anticipate having trouble with the application process or getting to the store to use your benefits, you can designate an “authorized representative" to act on your behalf. In that case, the authorized representative also must present identification.

Additional Resources and Programs?

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. (n.d.) Ohio Resource Guide for Relatives Caring for Children [Brochure]. Retrieved from