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Grandfamily Resource Centers: FAQ


We know that many issues may arise when caring for children. With this Questions and Answers section, a caregiver can feel confident that the information needed to answer even the most difficult questions is available.



Birth Certificates


Child Care

Medical Care



Q. As I seek assistance, what documents should I take with me to appointments?

A. It is best to call ahead to verify which documents are needed for the assistance you are seeking. Here are some documents that might be required:

  • Birth certificate of grandchildren
  • Picture ID
  • (Formal) legal document identifying your custody of the grandchildren/(Informal) notarized parental consent statement
  • Proof of residency
  • Income-check stubs for the past six (6) months


Q. Where can I get affordable low-income housing for myself and my grandchildren?

A. Housing is available through local housing authorities, neighborhood housing development programs and housing coalitions. Eligibility is determined by the individual housing agency.

For more information, contact the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s office in Columbia, SC at 800-955-2232. This may include information about HUD rental programs, including Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers, contact our Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Resource Center. The Columbia Field Office is located in the Strom Thurmond Federal Building at 1835 Assembly Street, 13th Floor, Columbia, SC 29201. The local telephone number is 803-765-5592. HUD also provides a useful FAQ about renting low-income housing.


Q. What financial assistance is available for grandparents raising grandchildren?
The Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services provides financial assistance to families with dependent children. To determine eligibility for services contact your local office.

Contact information

South Carolina is in Region 4

Administration. for Children and Families, Atlanta Regional Office 
61 Forsyth Street, Ste. 4M60 
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8909 
Telephone: 404-562-2800 
Fax: 404-562-2981

Some services include Food Stamps, Medicaid, Reduced breakfast/lunch services, WIC, and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

Other Financial Assistance: 
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 
P. O. Box 8206 
Columbia, SC 29202-8206 
Telephone: 803-898-2500 

For more information please call 1-877-552-4642 Monday -Friday, 8a.m. - 6p.m.

Social Security Income (SSI) 
Contact: 1-800-772-1213

Q. Is my income counted to determine my grandchild's eligibility for services?
Yes and no. For most services, eligibility for programs funded by federal, state, or local programs is usually based on family income (example: Food Stamps). However, other programs (example: Child Only Grant) is for the child and based only on the child's income. Any income you have from working, Social Security benefits, child support, and/or a pension, will generally count whether you have legal custody or guardianship of the grandchild.

Note: We advise grandparents to apply for all services because there may be unknown exceptions that will help them qualify for the services.

Q. I am a grandparent over 60 years old raising my grandchild. Where can I go for services for seniors?
There are 10 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the State. Please contact:

The Lieutenant Governor's Office on Aging 
1301 Gervais Street, Suite 200 
Columbia, SC 29201 
Phone: (803) 734-9900 
Toll Free: (800) 868-9095 
Fax: (803) 734-9886 and (803) 734-9887 
Web address:

AARP Grandparent Information Center may also be of assistance and can be contacted at 1-888-OUR-AARP (697-2277).

According to the 2010 Census, many younger grandparents, age range between 40-59 years, are also raising grandchildren and need assistance. Some services are available to all grandparents regardless of age.

Birth Certificates

Q. How and where do I obtain birth certificates?

A. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Vital Records Services can assist with birth certificates and other vital records. Full details and forms are on the site. They also have a helpful FAQ section.

If you wish to visit the office in person, it is located at 2600 Bull Street, Columbia SC 29201 and provides full services. The county offices can only process birth cards and corrections. Be sure to bring photo ID, forms if you have them and payment.

You can also mail in your request. Fill out the form, with a photo ID copy and check for the fee. You will also need the following information:

  • Full name of person whose record is being requested
  • Full date of birth
  • County of birth
  • Father's full name
  • Full maiden name of the mother

For additional fees, you can also use the VitalChek service over the telephone. Contact 1-877-284-1008 (toll-free) for further details.


Q. I have a notarized statement from the parent to act as the temporary guardian for the grandchild. Can this statement be used as a legal document when seeking services for the grandchild?

A. Yes, but not for all services. The notarized statement is utilized at hospitals and school systems. However, some child care services do not accept the notarized statement but may grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Grandparents can petition for an exception by contacting the child care agency to appeal their decision to deny services.

Q. Is there any low income legal assistance to help me with issues such as custody, power of attorney, or adoption?

A. Yes. Some free legal assistance and/or discounted fees are available from volunteer attorneys. Also, some private law firms have attorneys who will take cases on a "pro bono" (no charge) basis. Many of these free services are based on a low income requirement.

The University of South Carolina School of Law has provided a helpful list of links.

Criminal matters

  • Contact the local public defender in your area.

Civil matters

General Information

Q. Can child support payments be transferred to me now that my grandchildren are living with me?

A. The Office of the Attorney General can help you decide what is possible in your situation. For further information visit the website or email: info@scattorneygeneral.comor call 803-734-3970.

Child Care

Q. Can I get help to pay for childcare for my grandchildren?

A. It depends on your income. One place to start is Child Care Aware, a program of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), is partly funded by the Child Care Bureau (CCB), Office of Family Assistance (OFA), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can find more information by calling 1-800-424-2246, Monday through Friday, 8am through 7pm EST.

You can also contact the SC Department of Social Services at 803-898-7601 or 800-768-5700. Check also the DSS, Division of Child Care or call (803) 898-7601.

Q. What about the Head Start program?

A. Head Start is a child development program for preschool children ages 3 to 5 years. It provides activities for children to help them grow physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. You must income qualify for Head Start services. For more information call 803-898-2550. Additional information about Head Start.

Q. What should I look for when choosing a child care facility?

A. It is important to visit several different facilities before you make a decision. At each facility speak with the staff who will care for your grandchild and talk with other families who use the provider. Pay attention to how clean the facility is, if staff supervise the children at all times how the children spend their time and if the program is regulated. Count the number of children and the number of adults in each classroom. Ask yourself if you would like to spend 8-10 hours every day in the program. For more information on choosing quality childcare please contact DSS, Division of Child Care at 803-898-2570.

Q. What does it mean to be a Licensed or Registered "childcare provider?"

A. In the state of South Carolina, the Child Care Licensing Program enforces laws and regulations established by the South Carolina Legislature to ensure that child care facilities provide the basic health and safety requirements for all children in their care. For more information, please call 803-898-2570.

Medical Care

Q. I cannot afford medical insurance for my grandchild. What is available?

A. Medicaid is health insurance for low income children which cover health care costs, including doctor's visits and eye care. Medicaid eligibility is based on the child's income, not the grandparent's.

Q. What other medical insurance is available?

A. CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program) provides affordable and comprehensive health insurance. It covers children in working families that earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not able to afford regular health insurance.

CHIP information:

Q. How do the grandchildren qualify for Medicaid and/or CHIP health insurances?

A. Medicaid eligibility is based on the child's income status not the grandparent's. To qualify for CHIP, eligibility depends on the family's income.

Information about Medicaid and SC CHIP can be found at the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services by calling (888) 549-0820.

Q. Can I authorize medical care for my grandchildren even though I do not have legal custody?

A. Yes. A "Consent for Medical Treatment by a Non-parent" form can be provided by the grandparent seeking medical treatment for the grandchild. The form, signed by the parent, gives parental permission to the grandparent to obtain medical treatment for the grandchild. To obtain a medical consent form and further information, contact Legal Aid at 888-346-5592 toll free statewide or 803-744-9430 in the Columbia area.