Being a single parent is a complex juggling act at the best of times. You’ve to get the kids ready for school, rush to work, pick them up from practice, get to the store, and still find the time to cook a tasty meal—all with one set of hands. Struggling as a single parent mom or dad on low-income can feel like you juggling lead weights. You’ve got just as much to keep in the air as couples, but with a fraction of the resources.
Here’s the good news: you can get assistance thanks to single parent government help programs for solo moms and dads. Help is available with meals, staying warm, paying rent, and many other expenses. What does that mean for you and your family? More time together, working fewer hours, and having more cash to support your loved ones.
If you’re having to raise kids on your own, you’re not alone. Research shows that 23% of U.S. children under the age of 18 live in a single-parent household. Having just one income and with little support from others brings plenty of challenges. You’re probably shocked to find out that, according to data, it costs $245,340 to raise a child to adulthood—and that’s not taking into consideration the cost of college education.
But where can you find this kind of single parent government help? This article explains where to turn to get that extra help you so desperately need.
Single Parent Government Help Programs
You don’t have to go it alone trying to scrap together enough cash to put food on the table and pay the bills. Read on to find out where you can get government assistance, grants, and other help as a single parent.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
If you’re a single mom or dad, you may qualify for government grants in the TANF program. This is designed to help single parents like you make ends meet. You have to work 30 hours a week to get cash assistance. If you have a child under 6 years old, you can qualify for working 20 hours a week.
The goal of TANF is to help single dads and moms obtain and hold suitable employment. You can benefit from this help scheme for a maximum of five years. Just remember that requirements differ from state to state. In some states, you can get short-term cash assistance to pay for basic needs—housing, education, and food. You can find out what help is available near you at the Office of Family Assistance website.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Good nutritious food is essential for your children’s health. But cooking a tasty, nutritious meal can be darned expensive. If you can’t buy the groceries you need due to low income or unemployment, you can apply for SNAP assistance.
The SNAP program is the same as food stamps. Only, this program uses a debit card, or Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, to buy groceries. The state deposits benefits in the debit card at the start of each month. You can then buy your groceries at participating stores.
The value of benefits you can receive depends on your income, the number of people in your household, and if you already receive benefits—Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or TANF. For example, a single mom raising two kids could receive as much as $500 a month in government help. Find out about eligibility for SNAP at the USDA’s website.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Government help for single moms
If you’re a new single mom struggling to make ends meet, you may qualify from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program WIC. This program is for you if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a child under five years old.
Many studies show that the first five years of a child’s development are critical. Poor nutrition can lead to growth problems, increased risk of illness, and obesity. Breast milk and complementary feeding are essential to meet a growing baby’s nutritional needs.
The WIC program doesn’t just give single moms food packages—you can also get breastfeeding support, healthcare referrals, and expert advice on nutrition. Everything your child needs to provide them with the best start in life. Find out more about WIC here.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Staying warm in winter or cool in summer isn’t just a pipedream if you’re on low-income. Government help is available to pay for energy like your gas and electricity bills. LIHEAP can be a lifeline for single parents so you can look after your family when temperatures plummet.
Staying warm isn’t just a luxury that you can do without. Doctors say that living in a cold, damp, and poorly-heated home is terrible for you and your kids’ health. Getting help with your energy bills can keep everyone in your family healthier. It can also reduce your medical costs because you get sick less often.
As with most government benefits mentioned in this article, LIHEAP eligibility depends on the state you live in, your utility costs, and income. One of the benefits of LIHEAP is that its goal is to help you reduce energy costs in the long-term. So, as well as helping pay for energy—gas and electricity—you can get assistance to weatherize your home.
If you already qualify for SNAP or TANF, you may automatically be eligible for getting in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Head Start to assist single parents
Even if you’re a single dad or mom on a limited income, you can still give your child the best start in life. Government help in the ‘Head Start’ program is specially designed for low-income families. Kids up to age five can enroll in the program with their parent.
It’s not just your kids who benefit. Head Start gets you as a parent involved in your children’s emotional and physical development. This can help you develop a strong bond with your kids—something that is difficult to do if you’re a full-time working single mom or dad.
If you already qualify for TANF or receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you already qualify for Head Start. If you’re strapped for cash and pregnant or recently had a child, then you could be eligible for Early Head Start.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
With the NSLP, you never have to worry about your kids going hungry at school just because you’re on a low-income. Getting low-cost or free school lunches is possible and can benefit your kid’s education. After all, who can concentrate on an empty, grumbling stomach?
The meals are nutritious and meet strict guidelines. The school meals have to contain large portions of fruit and veg, no trans fats, and only a limited number of saturated fats. Of course, it may be more of a challenge getting your kids to eat healthily, but at least it’s good to know that the choice is there.
HUD Rental Assistance Program
If you’re struggling to make ends meet—as a single parent or as a couple—you might be able to get help with paying the rent. Being able to afford a decent place to stay gives you a sense of security. It also helps create a stable environment for raising kids on your own.
Rental assistance works in a few ways. Here are three HUD housing programs and how they work:
- Subsidized housing—Landlords receive funds from the state, and they can offer reduced rent to low-income families.
- Housing Choice Vouchers—You can find your own place to rent and your landlord receives funds equal to the amount on your voucher.
- Public housing—Not usually the best choice for low-cost rent accommodation, but public housing is available for low-income families.
Visit the HUB’s website to find out more about government help for single parents to find accommodation.
Help with Child Care
Getting decent child care is one of the biggest challenges for single parents. After all, child care is expensive. But you need good child care to help your kids develop. And, if you’re working full-time, you don’t have the option of being a stay-at-home mom or dad.
There are several government help programs so you can get the child care you need. For example, child care subsidies for low-income parents can help make child care affordable. You may also qualify for state-funded pre-kindergarten. There, your child can be enrolled in part-time or full-time daycare so you can work. Find out more on this website about government child care assistance programs.
Getting Single Parent Government Help
Government help can take off some of the pressure you have as a single parent. Getting help paying for housing, food, and energy bills gives you fewer things to juggle if you’re raising a child on your own. Check out more articles about the help that is available for single parents to care for their children.