There are few jobs as challenging as being a single mom. Federal, state and local governments recognize this and there are several programs designed to help moms and kids obtain proper nutrition, complete their educations and get much-needed health insurance. However, the government won't come to you, so don't be shy. Single moms need all the help they can get.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called SNAP or food stamps, helps low-income families buy nutritious food. You must meet low-income guidelines to qualify. Benefits are discreetly paid by your state through a debit card and increase depending on the number of people in your household. Apply with your county SNAP counselor and she will ask you a variety of questions regarding your assets and income.
WIC and the School Lunch Program
Two of the most successful government programs for single mothers are Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, and the free school lunch program. WIC provides basic nutrition coupons on a monthly basis. To qualify for WIC, a low-income mom must be pregnant, nursing or have small children under the age of 5. After age 5, the school lunch program takes over. Based on income, a child can get a healthy breakfast and dinner for free or at a reduced price.
CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program, is a government-funded program administered by each state. It helps families who cannot afford health insurance on their own. Medical, dental and vision coverage is provided to kids, often with no co-pays. Eligibility is determined on a sliding scale based on income and the number of people in the home. While the program does not cover adults, it does provide a measure of relief for moms worried that every day brings a risk of a broken arm or whooping cough.
In Families First, the government provides a cash payment to the mom who's struggling to make ends meet. The government's expectation is that the mom will be working at a job or training for one for a minimum of 30 hours per week. The government also monitors the children to make sure they're in school and vaccinated. In Families First, mothers are expected to establish the paternity of their children and begin child support proceedings, so that the father can contribute in a financially meaningful way toward the children's upbringing.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.