Single Parents of America - Help and Assistance Programs

Financial Help for Single Moms and Dads

Since the 1960s, the number of single parents in America continues to rise. As of 2016, more than 13 million households in the country are made of single moms and dads who often do not earn enough money to cover basic expenses.

The federal government and other institutions are aware of the financial struggle single parents go through, and offer support to cover basic needs such as food, childcare and more. In this guide, we provide information about federal and nonprofit programs that provide financial aid to single parents.

Assistance from Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations and religious charities across the country generally provide financial assistance and counseling to single parents. They should visit the local office of known institutions to find out which programs can help them get out of financial hardship. Organizations such as Bridge of Hope and Helping Hands are always willing to help single moms with their housing needs. They also provide educational training when necessary.

Habitat for Humanity work nationwide to help single parents as well. This organization helps struggling families find temporary homes and purchase affordable homes. Applicants partner up with the foundation to build and improve homes in their community, often working for hundreds of hours alongside other volunteers. In return, they gain access to affordable mortgage loans to pay for the home they helped build.

The organization also provides second-hand furniture through their ReStore branches. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Society all operate thrift shops with the purpose of helping single parents buy goods at a much lower cost. Some nonprofit organize themselves around providing basic access to a car. Working Class for Families and New Leaf Services have set up programs that donate vehicles to families who need them  most. They also provide financial assistance with vehicle maintenance and repairs.

To combat rising costs of basic services, some institutions have established programs that provide services at an affordable price or free. For example, churches may provide free daycare service, food, or financial help to cover basic expenses. Contact your church for information on which assistance programs they operate that might help you get financial relief.

Child Support

Single parents have the right to receive child support. Even if you never married, parents have responsibility to pay child support until children is no longer a minor (unless it has special needs), joins the military, they are adopted by a stepmother or stepfather, or are declared to be self-sufficient.

Child support payments are mandatory in all states. The amount of money you’ll receive from the other parent depends on several factors and varies widely between states. The income level, expenses of the parents and needs of the child are important when determining child support payments.

Keep in mind that child support payments are only available as long as you remain a single parent and the child meets the criteria outlined above. However, single parents should always file for child support. Doing so may be necessary to receive the benefits of some federal assistance programs.

Federal Programs

The federal government runs several assistance programs designed to help struggling families. Single parents can take advantage of them to make sure their children are healthy. For example, single-income households can sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Food Stamps, to receive financial aid when purchasing food. However, single parents participating in SNAP must agree to working a minimum hours of work, school or professional training. Contact a local department of children and families to find requirements for programs in your area.

Single parents without jobs can apply for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The requirements to receive the benefits are similar to two-income families, though single moms and dads must work at least 30 hours per week. The average national annual income of single parents means that most are usually eligible for Medicaid, which offers help with medical costs. Pregnant women and children are usually automatically eligible for Medicaid. With these resources, single parents, especially single women, are guaranteed some sort of healthcare benefits.

Today, more than 25% of children in America are growing up in single-income houses. State childcare programs such as Early Start, Head Start and Pre-K provide assistance so single parents can remain in the workforce. For working single parents, finding basic child care programs to look after children can cost as much as $15,000 a year, which may be out of reach for a single-income household. To address this concern, some states have established childcare centers which provide free childcare services to single moms and dads living in the area. Family Child Care Homes also have special rates and discounts for single parents. The local Social Security office can provide information about benefits available in that state, as well as  requirements to receive them.

Tax Breaks

Single parents have access to a variety of tax breaks designed to help them save money while raising their children. One of the most popular tax incentives is the childcare tax credit, which single-income households can use to save money on daycare services. As head of a family, they can also claim a $1,000 tax credit if they claim a child as under their responsibility. However, they must be within the income requirements. This tax break can only be claimed when children are younger than 16 years old.

Tax breaks often are a financial relief for single parents. Failing to cover child support payments are severe, and getting to keep money otherwise spent in taxes can go a long way to help single-income households stay afloat. Parents should always check with state and federal authorities about which tax breaks are available to them.

For single parents, taking advantage of assistance programs can help you save hundreds of dollars on basic expenses. If you are not eligible for benefits, be sure to check back later as these requirements can fluctuate from year to year across states. There are many local agencies and organizations willing to help you get through parenthood successfully.

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