The Bulletin Board

Lawmakers clear way for families who take in unrelated kids to get TANF

By: - June 8, 2023 2:02 pm

Tina and David Miller (center) of Littleton took in three children they didn’t know after they were removed from their homes. From left to right, Miyah and Dre Akines and Kah-Leal Oliver, are now 13, 17, and 9. The Millers are flanked by their sons, Michael and Matthew. (Courtesy)

A Littleton couple who took in their son’s girlfriend’s niece and two nephews, giving them a safer, more stable, and cleaner home, cannot get state assistance for food and groceries because the children are not relatives. 

That appears on track to change. 

The House on Thursday passed a bill, which also cleared the Senate, that would allow people like Tina and David Miller of Littleton to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Senate Bill 172 requires that an adult be appointed as a guardian by the court. The bill heads next to the governor’s desk. It has not encountered opposition during the session.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimated that under the bill, 300 children living with unrelated adults would receive the benefit, which averages about $7,000 a year. 

“This is tears to my eyes!” said Tina Miller in an email after learning the bill had been passed in both chambers. “This is a true blessing to our family! A small burden has been lifted!”

The Millers were empty nesters with plans to retire and travel when they took in their son’s girlfriend’s relatives just under five years ago. The kids, all under 12 at the time, were living in relatives’ homes where drugs and needles were more consistent than heat, food, and running water, the Millers said.

The couple receives only Medicaid for the kids’ medical expenses. Tina Miller told House members earlier this year that they’d like help paying for their $300-a-week grocery bill.

“It’s the little things,” she told them. “We’re not asking for a million dollars. It’s a little bit of help with clothes or food.”

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]