The grandparent benefit [raising grandchildren]
Published On Wed Feb 24 2010
A 75-year-old grandmother has won the right to keep a $240 monthly government benefit so she can afford to raise her grandson. Unfortunately, Marika Vandewater’s win at the Social Benefits Tribunal may not help others struggling in similar situations.
Rather than accept the tribunal’s judgment that a “broad and liberal” approach is necessary to determine eligibility for the benefit, Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur prefers to “encourage people to go to the appeals process” after they’ve run into a problem.
The temporary care allowance provides assistance to family members or other adults who step in to look after children when parents are incapable. Two years ago, advocates began raising concerns about dozens of grandparents being cut off because the care they were providing was not “temporary” enough.
It may seem understandable that an official would decide the arrangement was not temporary after 10-years of caring for a grandson. But what is the alternative to helping this family, and others like it? Does the government think it is preferable that the children be raised in abject poverty? Or be turned over to the Children’s Aid Society at a far greater cost to both the taxpayer and the child?
Granting benefits to grandparents is an economical solution that keeps families together. We should be grateful that grandparents are willing to take on the task. Many do not need or seek assistance from the government. But those who live on fixed incomes insufficient to care for children should be able to rely on some assistance without fear of it being cut off at some arbitrary point in time.
The grandparents are stepping into the breach while the parents get their lives back together; they are doing what is best for their grandchildren by raising them in a stable home instead of subjecting them to a series of foster homes; and they are saving the taxpayers’ money as just about any other option would cost far more.
The government should be thanking them – and helping them – instead of forcing them go to a tribunal to fight short-sighted bureaucratic decisions.
< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/770329–the-grandparent-benefit >