Ask any single parent, and they'll tell you that the challenges of one-parent households are abundant. And although the most common struggle is likely financial strain, nobody talks about everything that entails or the other things that add to the bulk of the financial stress.
Parents must make tough decisions daily, and shouldering those responsibilities alone and worrying about how you will feed and house your family is not easy. Thankfully, several programs are available for single parents in need, and to give you an idea, we've listed several here for you to explore.
What kind of assistance is available to single parents?
Women, Infants & Children
Also known as WIC, Women Infants & Children is a federally funded program that provides food and nutrition education to pregnant and low-income families and children under five. In addition to food and formula, WIC provides support and education for breastfeeding. Their entire goal is to ensure that these families are provided with basic needs during the first years of their children's lives.
Habitat For Humanity
Housing is essential for families, and Habitat For Humanity is a non-profit company that helps bridge the gap for low-income single moms looking to build a first-time home in a safe community. They are a worldwide organization and have a presence in over seventy countries. If your family meets the criteria, Habitat works with volunteers and community members to start the construction of the house so that your family has an appropriate shelter at an affordable price.
ParentSwirl - single parents community
ParentSwirl is a dating app for single parents that has a community. They offer networking capabilities and a community of people that help each other find resources, support, and information. You can ask questions to the community and get honest advice and guidance. Their main goal is to make it as easy as possible for single parents to get back out there and start dating. ParentSwirl has an array of search options and filters to feed the algorithm, making it simple to find what you're looking for.
Lifeline is government-funded and provides free or discounted landline and cell phone services to low-income single mothers on the SNAP (food stamp) program. There are local providers in each state, so if you go to their website, you can find local vendors and see if you qualify.
Early Head Start
Daycare is a massive deal for single mothers, and people who don't understand how much it costs have a hard time comprehending the struggles that single mothers go through. Daycare in the United States is costly and runs during regular workday hours.
Early Head Start helps low-income families with childcare services up until the age of two and is also a federally funded program. In addition, they provide mental health services and family support. This assistance is a massive help to families who live at or below the poverty level.
Just as housing and daycare are essential for single mothers, so is food. SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, assists low-income families and single mothers who live at or below the poverty line with food. If you qualify, you get a credit card with a monthly amount you can spend on food items at the grocery store.
If you have all the information necessary to qualify, you can usually get help within 5-7 days. Visit your local department of human services website to find out more information or see if you are a good candidate.
NSLP- National School Lunch Program
Some families can't afford to feed their children breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And the NSLP is an excellent program to help the children of single moms achieve that goal. This program helps children get breakfast and lunch during the school day and also during the summer months. Most schools are excellent about sending home the paperwork for this, especially during the beginning of the year, but if you need to apply, you can do so on the NSLP website.
Home Affordable Modification Program
Housing is expensive, and it's challenging to juggle even the most basic needs if you're a single mother. The Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, is a program for people who have trouble paying their monthly mortgage. This program helps lower monthly payments and relieves some financial stress on single-family parents.
Home Energy Assistance
Heating and air costs are a significant burden on single mothers, who sometimes need help paying their bills. LIHEAP is a government grant distributed by the department of human services once a year to help families pay their bills. Although it's not the same in each state, some local DHS locations have you submit your paper bill so they can pay up to a certain amount to help.
As stated with the Early Head Start program, childcare is needed if you work a full-time job or are in school. And if you're a single mom with one income, it's costly. The Department of Human Services offers this, as well as some tribes. But, regardless of where you are getting help, this subsidy is essential if you are a single mother working or furthering your education to help feed and house your children.
What kind of assistance should be available that doesn't exist?
Other than government-funded programs, there are also many charities, local community churches, and food banks that help single mothers. However, I found several gaps when I was a single parent not too long ago. And though I was incredibly grateful for the assistance provided, there could be more to offer single parents trying to cope with the inner workings of grief, fatigue, and stress. Also, trying to find places that help out can be like going down a rabbit hole; after a while, it's easy to give up and settle for the status quo.
Though it may seem like a big ask, my suggestion is a one-stop shop online site for single mothers or fathers to land when they need help. On this site, it would have different sections. For example, if you need help with food, you'd put it in your state, and it would take you to the forms you need to fill out or a number to call for assistance. In addition, there would be a mental health section and a community for single parents to mingle and talk about their daily issues. This site could also direct you to local groups so that single parents could connect and network with other single, like-minded parents.
Many programs are helping out single moms financially, and it's all geared towards giving the children of single-parent households their basic needs. And while that is undoubtedly the most critical issue, single parents need help outside of taking care of their kids. They need the convenience of finding help, and access to groups that can assist with self-care. We must start realizing that self-care is essential for single moms and dads to effectively raise their kids.