The various family and child benefits, including some of the education grants available (see Education Grants) come via the CAF - Caisse d’allocations familiales). Some are means tested and others paid to all families.
Basic, non-means tested, child benefits (les allocations familiales or Af) are payable, per child, to anyone with two or more children from the birth of the second child, if they are born in France, or from when you arrive in France if you arrive with two or more children.
They are payable until a child reaches 16-18, depending on how long they remain dependent, i.e. in education. (NB you will lose your benefits for your last child when your second to last child reaches this cut off point as at that point you are deemed only to have one (i.e. dependent) child.)
On top of child benefits, there is a range of means-tested benefits which depend on a combination of your income, family circumstances and number of children. Your income is calculated according to your tax declaration two years previously but if your circumstances have changed for the worse since then, it is important to let your local CAF know as they may be able to take into account your current circumstances.
Means-tested benefits include:
Prime a la naissance ou adoption - a one-off, means-tested grant payable at birth (or adoption of a child less than 20months old) and l’allocation de base, a means-tested allowance paid during the first three years of the child’s life.
L’allocation de soutien familial (Asf) - means-tested benefit for single parents
Complement familial - a means-tested benefit payable to families with three or more children (under 21) from the third birthday of the third child. Although this is means tested, the income platforms are quite generous – for example 35,848€ for a couple with three children and only one parent earning or 43,853€ if both parents are working.
Holiday and activity vouchers the CAF also sends out vouchers towards the costs of extra curricular activities – sports clubs, holiday clubs etc. as well as holiday vouchers to subsidise the cost of a family holiday. This system varies from region to region so you will need to check what your local CAF offers.
If your family income is very low there are also grants and low interest loans to help you move house, buy white goods and for home improvements as well as housing benefits for those in rental properties – see Low income families.
more info on caf.fr
see also education grants