Grandparents and other relatives care for millions of children in foster care and outside the formal child welfare system. Both non-relative and relative foster parents must go through a foster care agency to legally become a foster family and to receive foster care payment reimbursements. Although foster families are often comprised of extended family members, relatives have no legal responsibility to become a child’s caregiver. Relative caregivers and foster parents often do not know that they may be able to claim the children they take care of for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
- Foster care agencies and child welfare agencies
- Family counseling and crisis intervention programs
- Grandparent and foster parent support groups
- Programs for seniors
1. Highlight the eligibility of foster parents and relative caregivers in outreach materials.
Campaign materials that refer only to a parent’s eligibility will miss many families that may qualify. Emphasize that various caregivers may be eligible for these tax credits.
2. Work with public foster care agencies.
State agencies, such as child welfare agencies and agencies that administer TANF programs, may interact on a regular basis with foster parents and relative caregivers. Encourage them to include information on claiming the EITC and the CTC in any training they provide for families. They also can send information about the tax credits with foster care payments and cash assistance payments and talk about the credits during home visits.
3. Reach out to community-based programs.
Find programs that support foster parents or grandparents raising grandchildren with services such as family counseling and crisis intervention. Some organizations also offer help with school supplies and clothes.
4. Involve associations and support groups.
Ask your state foster care association to share tax credit information with local groups or contact area grandparents raising grandchildren support groups. Outreach campaigns can offer to arrange a speaker for local meetings or write an article for association newsletters. Find your state foster care association here, or visit the National Foster Parent Association.
5. Work with organizations that share information with seniors.
Ensure that Area Agencies on Aging, senior employment programs and programs that recruit seniors as volunteers — such as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) — share information about the tax credits with seniors who are raising children. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), sponsored by the IRS, provides seniors and families with lower incomes free tax filing help. AARP is the largest TCE participant, providing services through its Tax-Aide Program. To find the nearest Tax-Aide Program, contact AARP at 1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669). During tax time, locations are available on the AARP website.
6. Share information about the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit and expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.
The 2021 American Rescue Plan included multiple temporary one-year tax credit changes. The 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit is worth up to $3,600 for each child under 6 years old, and $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17 years old. The 2021 expanded EITC is worth up to $1,500 for workers not raising children or up to $6,700 for workers raising children in their home.
People who were eligible for the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit or the 2021 expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and didn’t claim them can file a 2021 tax return by April 18, 2025. Learn more about filing prior years taxes.