Seniors - no matter what their source of income - often struggle to make ends meet in San Joaquin County. Adding a grandchild into the household makes it even more challenging.

This year, for the first time, the Elder Index includes the real costs associated with raising one, two, or three grandchildren in each California county.

Two of the most common sources of income for seniors, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, aren't nearly enough to provide for a grandchild.

Yet public programs that might help grandparents cope - such as the state foster care program - are often difficult to access or off-limits altogether for family caregivers.

While other support programs can help seniors bridge the gap, many use the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPL) to determine eligibility. The problem is that the FPL is the same dollar amount across the country, and does not reflect today's cost of living. The result? Thousands of economically insecure seniors fall through the cracks of our public systems, with too much income to qualify for help but not enough to get by.