As a single mom or dad, raising your child alone is almost always financially difficult. Planning and setting provisions for your family is expensive and doing it on a single income can seem impossible, bringing on
While there are many nonprofits and organizations geared toward single parents, the federal government has available helpful resources for single parents that can provide immediate, temporary and sometimes,
Government help exists for those struggling with one-parent, one-income households.
For those with very low incomes, federal programs like Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as Food Stamp Program, offer subsidies to pay basic expenses and buy groceries. Some families, depending on their income and state of residence, might also qualify for health-care benefits through the Medicaid program. Other public assistance programs cover either part or the entire cost of school lunches for children. Contact your child’s school for information and an application.
These 6 helpful resources for single parents may be able to help you with different financial needs you may have.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, provides cash assistance to families going through hardships. It is run through state governments and you will need to apply through your local agency.
If you are having a hard time feeding your family, you may qualify for SNAP benefits, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. They are also run through state governments and you can apply through your local human services office.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, provides energy bill and weatherization help to those in need. To find the LIHEAP program in your office, call the National Energy Assistance Referral hotline at 1-866-674-6327.
Head Start is a federally funded child care program for children ages 0 to 5 years old. They also provide health and social services to the families of participants
WIC The Women, Infant, and Children program provides nutritional assistance to pregnant women as well as mothers of children 5 years old or younger. They also provide screening and referrals to additional services.
The National School Lunch Program, or NSLP, provides free or
Don’t miss out on getting the help you need. Being a single parent doesn’t have to be as much of a struggle. With a little assistance, you can provide for your family the way they deserve. If none of these are helpful, search for other organizations that may be able to help you. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for help to get back on your feet with dignity.
Other helpful resources single parents should consider
The pink elephant. You may not immediately think of child support as a source of financial help for single moms or single dads. Too often, the payments are inconsistent or don’t arrive at all. But here’s why this is an important resource to consider: you have to file for child support before the government will consider whether you’re eligible for other sources of assistance for single parents. Yup, exactly. They make you go through the motions, even if the absent parent cannot be located or is not in a position to help financially. This is because the government wants the absent parent to contribute, at least financially, before the state steps in and provide assistance. So if you’re thinking of applying for public assistance, you’ll need to file for child support either first or at the same time.
Friends and Family
When you’re in need of help, don’t overlook the people around you. Chances are, your friends and family want to see you succeed and would be willing to help in some way. This might be by helping you get through a temporary financial setback like having to pay for an unexpected car or home repairs, or by spending time with your children while you take on a second job or cut back on child care. And if you’re co-parenting with the other parent, remember that they could also step in and provide additional care for the kids while you work a few extra hours or in need of some
Organizations and Charities
Financial help and guidance for single parents also comes through nonprofit organizations and religious charities. Groups like Bridge of Hope and Helping Hands assist single mothers with housing and educational training. You can search the internet or contact state divisions of family services to learn what’s available in your area.
Habitat for Humanity, which builds and helps low-income families buy homes, is another organization to contact. That agency has outlets called ReStores that sell used furniture to help single parents furnish homes. Organizations like The Salvation Army, Goodwill
Local churches, religious organizations, and community organizations may also be able to provide temporary assistance or point you toward additional services in your area. In most cases, you don’t have to be a member of a particular organization to receive their help.
Another source of assistance is your local food pantry network. These are also called ‘food banks.’ They work by providing staples like pasta, rice, canned vegetables, and even some toiletries. In most cases, food banks are limited to non-perishable goods, but some do also provide milk and eggs. And around the holidays, they may also offer frozen turkeys or hams. Best of all, they may be able to help you even if you’ve already been told that “earn too much” to qualify for government assistance. Food pantries also tend to be well-connected resources, so they may be able to point you toward other sources of assistance for single moms in your area.
The Childcare Challenge: Ways to Lower the Cost
For single parents with pre-school children and jobs, finding affordable childcare can be a tremendous burden, but help is available here, too.
If you attend church, find out whether your church operates a daycare center or has a liaison with another organization that might. In some cases, churches offer reduced rates based on parents’ incomes. Also, contact state and county government child-welfare offices for guidance. Even your employer’s human resources office might be able to help.
The cost of daycare and after-school care for children 12-and-under is tax deductible. Consult Internal Revenue Service publications for the latest requirements to take the deduction. In general, you must have an income, be a full-time student or be physically or mentally unable to care for yourself to qualify for the deduction, and the care provider must be older than 19.
Tax Breaks for Single Parents
Taxes are another area where you can save. If you’re a custodial parent or your child resides with you most of the time, talk to a tax consultant or go online to learn about tax breaks that might provide money for you. These include a child-care tax credit for money spent on daycare. Parents can also claim head of household status on federal tax returns, claim a child as a dependent and receive a $1,000 tax-credit for children younger than 16 as long as you meet income requirements.
For single parents who have child support orders, payments are critical.
As important as these transfers are to child welfare and family budgets, they often aren’t made and enforcement isn’t easy despite stiff penalties for not paying.
Noncustodial parents face legal penalties for failing to pay on time, and child support debts are not dischargeable, which means you must continue to pay even if you filed for bankruptcy. The receiving parent often depends on the income. That parent can often seek help from the state to collect if payments aren’t being made or can sue for enforcement.
I hope you’ve found this resource useful and could help lead you in the right direction. If you know of additional resources single parents could use, please comment below. I’d like to update this resource page periodically ensuring as much accuracy for those seeking help.