In order to survive as a single mother, one has to start building a network of support systems that cover housing, childcare, food, finances, education and more. The list of needs that a single parent has and her ability to pinpoint resources for her needs may mean the difference between stability and poverty. This article addresses the three basics of survival: housing, childcare, and food.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has great information on their website on where to find assistance for single moms for locating housing assistance. It can range from vouchers, to first-time homebuyers programs, and Section 8’s.
Other possibilities to help defray housing costs are organizations that pair up single mothers to co-house, or getting fuel or heating assistance from the local utility companies.
By far, next to housing, childcare is the single biggest expenditure in a single mother’s budget. Many single mothers rely on relatives to help with the childcare. The Department of Social Services has information on child care subsidies and child support enforcement.
For children in elementary schools, the school system sometimes offers after school programs. The YMCA also offers after school programs. If you work at a university and your child is older, they might qualify for a subsidized summer program being held there. There are a number of government and local programs to help provide assistance for single moms needing day care.
If you are working full-time at a company that has a dependent care flexible spending account, sign up. Allocate only the money that you know you will need for childcare expenses and no more. Any unclaimed money at the end of the year is lost. However, with careful management, one can save the same percentage on childcare as your tax rate allows. This can range from 10 to 28% of childcare costs and is a hefty benefit.
A single mother who is pregnant or with children under five may qualify for WIC (Women, Infant, Children), which is a program to give help in providing nutrition. There are income guidelines and the Department of Social Services may need to assess your nutritional risk to determine if you qualify for assistance for single moms.
Registering with the Department of Social Services would help one to also possibly obtain food stamps, which now come in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, similar to a debit card. This type of assistance for single moms can be invaluable in bridging the gap between making it or not.
Public schools all have meal programs that are need based. There is a national school lunch, breakfast, and special milk program. Schools will typically include guidelines and an application form when you are enrolling the child in school.
Food co-operatives will often let you buy food at a discounted price if you donate time with them. Another possibility is local food pantries and church initiatives.
Typically, the bulk of assistance for single moms falls into providing this daily necessity of food, shelter, and childcare. There are many options available, but it takes time and persistence to apply and obtain benefits.