Financial assistance for single parents is sometimes the only lifeline keeping them from drowning in a sea of debt and poverty. Most people have a lot to deal with in today’s economy, but single parents have the additional burden of trying to keep the family afloat all on their own.
Added to this is the fact that single parents, especially single mothers, are quite common and can be found in every socio economic bracket. They are often struggling with emotional problems like grief, on top of all the financial issues that are part and parcel of raising a child on your own. Single parenting can occur suddenly, as in the case of the death, desertion or incarceration of a partner, or more slowly as in divorce. Either way, there is often an adjustment in finances and living arrangements that can come as something of a shock. Financial assistance for single parents could tide you over.
What to do When Disaster Strikes
- Don’t panic. This is paramount. When you find yourself in straitened circumstances, spinning out of control with worry is not helpful, neither to you nor your children. If you are too stressed to think your eyes will be closed to any opportunities out there. Whatever the situation, there is a way out, but you need to be calm and rational enough to see it. Financial assistance for single parents can come in many shapes and forms and you must be creative when looking for answers. Do not waste precious time and money bemoaning the negatives or they will just get bigger. Do not wallow in self-pity. Instead, find the positives, however small and work from there.
- Take stock. Make a list of all your expenses, assets and income. Financial assistance for single parents is easier to access when you have all your ducks in a row. It is also better to know exactly where you stand than putting your head in the sand and waiting for everything to implode. This way you can make plans with creditors and work out some kind of budget. If you have a car and can get by with public transport, sell it. If you own a house and can relocate to a smaller one or a less expensive neighborhood, do that. It is often better to make one big change that will have a substantial impact rather than small changes that will make a negligible difference and just make everyone feel miserable. Change is scary, but it can also be exciting if you approach it from that point of view.
- Take a personal inventory. Your biggest resource is not the government, relatives, or friends, it is YOU and financial assistance for single parents like you starts with your own expertise. Make a list of all your skills and abilities. Everybody is good at something and the smallest, most ordinary knack might just be the key to a better future. Do you like to cook, bake or sew? Can you work with figures or computers? It might be better to start with what you enjoy doing and then move on to a realistic record of your talents. Whatever you can do, start doing it, even if it is in a small way. If you are good with children you can offer to look after other people’s children, either part time or full time. There are many single mothers who have to work who would be very grateful to find a safe place for their small children. Bartering is also a great way to stretch finances and can provide indirect financial assistance for single parents. Find others who have something you need and offer to swap with them for something they need that you can supply. Even if you work full time there are certain things like shopping and cooking which need to be done anyway. You can cook while a friend shops, or vice versa. If you pool responsibilities and tasks you can get things done more efficiently. Enlist the help and talents of your children too. If one likes animals, he can walk dogs. If any of them are artistic, you can encourage them to make cards to sell. Everyone can do their bit to contribute to financial assistance for single parents. This will have other positive repercussions like an increase in self-esteem for your kids.
- Develop an entrepreneurial spirit. This means looking for opportunities wherever you go. Network with and speak to as many people as you can, keeping your eyes and ears open. Tell everyone who will listen what services you offer and what you can do. Put up notices on community, library, church and school notice boards. Also make use of bulletin boards at local malls and the corner café.
- Believe in yourself. If you believe you can do it, you can. The opposite is also true, though. If you feel hopeless and helpless then that is exactly what your situation will reflect.
- Look after your health. As a single parent seeking financial assistance for single parents, your job is a hard one. Getting enough sleep, eating properly and minimizing stress might seem like impossibilities, but it is vital that you maintain your equilibrium as best you can. Find ways to calm your mind so that you do not carried away with black thoughts and imaginings.
- Face facts. Many people feel embarrassed when they get into a financial crisis, which prevents them from functioning effectively. If you have to drop your standards and seek financial assistance for single parents, so be it. There is no shame in it and you are not alone. Admit when you need a helping hand and take one when it is offered. You might be in a position to help someone else in the future.
When You Need Immediate Help
If your circumstances are extreme and you need immediate relief, the steps above will still need to be followed and will prepare you to access financial assistance for single parents from other sources. These include the following:
- Government grants
- National School Lunch Program
- Church organizations
- Privately funded organizations
- Helping Hands
- Salvation Army
- Non-profit organizations
- Employee Loans
- Bank Loans
- Community funds
At www.benefits.gov you will find the most comprehensive collection of information available to help you access government grants, food aid, medical insurance, housing assistance and a host of other benefits. Use the Benefit Finder first to narrow down your choices and to see if you qualify for any of the programs. This is the quickest and most efficient route and will enable you to see the scope of programs. You can also search by state and by Federal agency. Eligibility depends on any number of factors including any disabilities, your current financial status and income and the amount of children you support. It may seem like an onerous task to track down financial assistance for single parents this way but this is your best option for discovering what the government has to offer. When providing your information, there are three important criteria to bear in mind.
Use these to fill in the on line forms to the best of your ability. Remember this system has been open to abuse before, so you will want to be as thorough as possible to give you the best chance of success.
There is so much erroneous information on the internet that would have you believe there is plenty of money available in government coffers and all you have to do is access it. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth and believing this could lead you down a path of frustration and disillusionment when you finally discover the truth. Remember, there are hundreds of thousands of people in dire straits and even though millions of tax dollars are allocated to federal assistance programs, they have to be spread out as fairly as possible. The onus is on you to prove neediness and to seek whatever financial assistance for single parents is available.
Don’t get caught by internet sites that offer give you access to this kind of information for a fee, or that sell e books with lists of sites for government aids. After purchase, you will still need to go through all the steps yourself with regard to your personal details and circumstances and all this information is freely available anyway. With thousands of government agencies in different sectors offering different types of financial assistance for single parents, it can seem like an overwhelming task, but the benefits website is still your best bet. The government has tried to make this a one-stop shop with all the facts and figures in one place.
Ensuring that your children are properly nourished should be one of your first priorities and is the type of financial assistance for single parents that is the easiest to access. Apply at their respective schools for the information and forms. Depending on your income your children could qualify for low cost or even free breakfast and lunch. Free milk might also be available in your state. The SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, guarantees a place in the national free lunch program if you have been accepted. Additionally, if you are on unemployment benefits this should pre- qualify your children for free lunches.
If you are specifically looking for financial assistance for single mothers there are programs that target this group. Try the following:
- Women’s Business ownership assistance
- Women’s Bureau
If you have exhausted your options with regard to government benefits in your search for financial assistance for single parents, the next step is to seek out support from non-profit organizations and privately funded and volunteer groups. Your local telephone directory would be a good place to start. This will give you contact details and give you an idea of what is available in your specific region. Again, talk to anybody and everybody you can. Treat this like you would any other job. Be realistic and forthcoming and try to keep emotion out of it. Even if groups like the Salvation Army and Helping Hands cannot help you, they might be able to steer you in the right direction.
Networking with other single parents could be your greatest resource for finding and sharing knowledge about financial assistance for single parents. Get out into the community and onto the internet and connect with as many people as possible. The more you interact with other people, the more you increase your chances of finding the help you need. You may even be able to help other parents.
If you are employed, ask about employee loans and whatever else your company might be able to offer in the way of financial assistance for single parents. There may well be programs and emergency funds that you are unaware of. If you don’t ask, you won’t have access to them. If nothing is currently available, perhaps you could come up with creative suggestions. This is the time to start thinking outside of the box. You don’t necessarily have to rely on what is available, if you can come up with your own solutions. Look around and see what you can offer in exchange for assistance. Offer to work overtime or to take on extra work outside of your own. If you notice there is a need somewhere or a shortfall somewhere else, try to fill it.
As a last resort, bank and other loans could be a way to get financial assistance for single parents. The interest, however, could prove devastating in the long run and put you in a worse position.
The economy is tough but it is not impossible to thrive in it. If you keep your head you can find opportunities to get ahead. Keeping a positive mindset and a can do attitude will take you farther than one full of doom and gloom. Approach your research with all the possibilities in mind and an openness to financial assistance for single parents.