Being a single parent is a difficult challenge, especially when money is tight. If you’re a single parent in financial trouble, you may find this article helpful.
Governments around the world are becoming more aware of how important it is for household with single parents to have a stable source of income. They recognize that single parents have to make difficult choices and sacrifices to provide a safe home for their children.
Single parents, after all, have other options. Abortion is the first decision to make, and single parents have decided not to take this “easy way” out of their situation. They have not abandoned their children or offered them up for adoption. Whether we realize it or not, single parenting is a choice, and many single parents who make that choice are heroes.
Without enough financial resources, the life of a single parent can be difficult and dreary. Struggling from day to day to provide healthy meals is a battle. Providing appropriate clothing for growing children often forces acceptance of hand-me-downs and clothes cast off by more fortunate people. Health insurance may be out of the question, so free and low-cost clinics are the health care services they must choose.
If they don’t have a car, transportation depends on regular operation of sometimes undependable public mass transit systems. And even if they do have a car, regular maintenance costs and repairs may make using that car impossible. Keeping the children well-fed, warm, and healthy is a major task with many obstacles.
Yet, in spite of it all, they continue to trudge their path. They do what they can to meet the challenges and provide their children with as near a normal life as possible. Fortunately, there are places where single parents can go for financial help. This financial assistance may help relieve some of the stresses single parents face. Any help is welcomed help when your children are hungry.
While the federal government offers some limited help, local and state governments most often are the best hope for financial aid for single parents with children at home. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to qualify, but careful research and persistence may pay off.
Where to Find Financial Help
The best places to start looking for financial assistance are your county and municipal governments. Family service departments, children’s agencies, and local unemployment services may offer financial assistance. Your state government may also have programs that will help. Start with the blue pages in your telephone book. Look for family services, health and welfare, employment/unemployment agencies, and children’s welfare departments and agencies. Make a lot of phone calls to find the offices that can help you.
This may be an intensely frustrating exercise, as you’ll get a lot of accidental hang-ups and be transferred more than you think possible. But hang in there. Keep talking to people, and eventually you’ll find that one dedicated public servant who really wants to help. Get their name and keep their phone number in case you need their help again. And thank them for their generosity. They may do it for a living, but the ones who will really work for you do it from the heart.
Once you’ve located the right office, you’ll have to fill out some forms. Be prepared to spend some time doing it. Patience and tolerance are the code words. You can’t gain anything by becoming angry or hostile. As much as it may chafe, be polite and gentle.
When you fill out all the necessary forms, be honest. Half-truths, omissions, and downright lies will only bring disappointment later on, and they may disqualify you from help from any agency in the jurisdiction.
You’ll probably have to prove your income level, jobs you have had or have now, your address, and the number and ages of your children. Be prepared to provide income tax statements, payroll stubs, mail documenting your address, and birth certificates for you and your kids. The more documentation you have in hand, the faster and smoother the process will go.
It’s important that you know the requirements and qualifications. Most financial aid agencies have minimum income requirements. If you more than that amount, you could may not qualify for help. There may be other requirements, too. You may have to qualify on the basis of rent you pay.
Look into the options available for your children. Even if you don’t qualify, your children might be eligible for assistance for school meal vouchers or other services.
How Do I Know If I’m Eligible for Financial Help?
Eligibility requirements will vary by state and by local government. You’ll have to do your homework to find out what’s required in your area. But if you’ve already located the right agencies, the work is almost done. The agency will have pamphlets and brochures that outline their requirements and qualifications.
Generally, there are basic requirements that all governments ask for. First, you must be single – divorced, widowed, or never married. You may not qualify if you are in a common law situation or living with someone without a marriage license.
If you are widowed, you and your children may already qualify for Social Security assistance. Contact your local Social Security Administration office for more information. Once again, prepare yourself for a long frustrating search. Try to find that one person who really cares. They are out there, and if you make enough phone calls, you’ll find them.
If you are handicapped or disabled, you may qualify for disability assistance. Health departments and employment offices may be able to point you in the right direction for help with health and disability issues.
Parents whose partner is in prison may qualify for financial aid whether or not they are legally married. If you can demonstrate that your spouse can not provide funds, you may be able to get financial assistance from your state, county, or community. This will depend on where you live. Contact your state and local law enforcement agencies to start your research. They may be able to help you ask the right questions.
Again, your children may qualify for financial assistance in their own rights. Look into programs that are geared toward health and welfare for children. But beware, you don’t want to get in a situation where the government questions your fitness as a parent. If you have ever had accusations or charges filed against your parenting, this may not be a good solution.
What If I Can’t Get Financial Help?
If your situation is dire and you still can’t get help, it may be time to make some very hard choices. Perhaps you have relatives who could provide living space for a while until you can have a more stable income. Maybe your relatives would be willing to take one or all of your children in for a while until you can get on your feet. As difficult as that decision might be, it’s better than giving your children up to a government institution.
See if local churches can help. They may be able to provide meals and clothing and some medical aid. Offer to do chores at the church in exchange for help.
If you are homeless, try local shelters. People will not let children suffer if there are any choices open to them.
Finally, if you can’t seem to find the help you need, you may need to consider seeking foster care for your children.
Whatever decisions you must make, make them in the best interest of your children. And God be with you in your journey.