Being a single mother can be really hard. You and you alone have to bear the burden of bringing up your kids, and bringing them up right. There’s no one to share the problems with, and money is often tight too, when you’re a single mom.
It can seem like there’s no end to the problems of being a single parent, especially if you’re a woman. You can feel vulnerable, lost and isolated, with nowhere to turn. It’s harder to get a job when you’ve got kids to look after on your own, and childcare is expensive and can be hard to find. Yet, you need a job more than ever if you’re a single mom, because you want to give your kids the best you can.
The good news is that there is help available, but you need to know how to find it. If you live in the State of Arizona, there are several programs and schemes in place that can give you exactly the help you need.
Arizona’s help for single mothers
Arizona has a lot of ways to help you get on your feet and cope with being a single mom. There’s help with food, help with housing and heating bills, help with healthcare, childcare and even help with transportation costs. You could find you’re eligible for grants and scholarships awarded by the state for you or your kids to get a better education. It all helps.
Help with Money
There never seems to be enough money, when you are a single parent. It is rare to find cash handouts, but if you’re having problems finding enough cash to survive, the best place to start is TANF (Temporary cash Assistance for Needy Families)
You’ll need to prove residency in Arizona, and provide information about your income and any assets you may have. You will also be asked to take part in a work program if you don’t have at least a part time job that fulfils the criteria set by TANF.
Even if you don’t qualify for a cash supplement, there are plenty of other ways to find real help with your situation.
Help with Food
Giving them good, healthy and nutritious food is one of the most important things you can do for your kids. If you are a single mom, perhaps pregnant, breast feeding or working hard, as many single moms are, you need good food for yourself too so you stay healthy and strong for your family.
Arizona recognizes that access to good food is a basic human right and necessity. If your kids are under the age of 5 or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you need to know about the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program .
This is a state funded program, and you can get help completing the application forms from your local Department of Health. The program can help you get access to fresh local produce, dairy products that are important for growing kids and more.
In addition, there’s the program that used to be called the Food Stamps Program. It’s now known as the Nutrition Program, but don’t let that worry you. This is aimed at providing temporary help to needy families in the form of vouchers for basic foodstuffs. All your questions (like Am I eligible? How do I apply? How do I claim? What can I get with the vouchers?) are answered on the site linked below.
If you have extra difficulties, like being disabled, or homeless, you might also qualify for the Restaurant Meals program. However, most single mothers should receive help to prevent them being homeless or without adequate help if they are disabled, so it ‘s less likely to be the solution for you. Still, it’s worth knowing about.
If you find you don’t meet the criteria for the Nutrition Program, there are other things you can try the Emergency Food program.
You can find even more information about this here
You might also consider seeing if one of Arizona’s food banks can help you. People donate good food to these banks, and it could be just what you are looking for to give you that little bit of extra help to feed your family
Help with Childcare
It’s a fact of life that single moms have to be breadwinners as well as mothers. Not for you the luxury of being a stay at home mom! So, good and affordable childcare is bound to be high on your list of needs.
Maybe you are in college trying to get better qualifications for a job? Well, you need childcare too.
The DES (Department of Economic Security) offers help with finding and paying for childcare to many single mothers who are working or studying.
If you find that you can’t get help though the DES, all is not lost as asking around your local community could turn up some useful help. Some churches run childcare for their members, and single parents in a community sometimes manage to sort out a shared childcare system between them.
Help with Healthcare
One of the most worrying things in life, when you’re a single mom is healthcare. There are never any guarantees that a child will stay fit and well throughout childhood, in fact, you can bet your boots they won’t, no matter how carefully you look after them. Kids are prone to climbing trees…and then falling out of them, among other things, so a healthcare program that you can afford is vital. Many ordinary health insurance policies are too expensive for single mothers and low income families.
If you live in Arizona, are on a low income and have kids under 18, KidsCare could be the healthcare provider you can use. It covers medical needs, dental care and even optical care for kids with vision problems. In 2010, KidsCare was due to be closed down, but the legislation was thrown out and the excellent program continues to help parents and kids in the state.
Over 18s who aren’t eligible for KidsCare can get help with medical bills from the Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System, otherwise known as AHCCS.
Help with Housing
If you have kids, being homeless is really not an option. But housing can be hard to find, especially for a single woman who needs to be in a safe area and to have affordable rents and utility bills. The website singlemomsnet.com has a lot of really helpful, advice about finding the right housing help for you and your kids. They’ve got several suggestions, starting with HUD (Housing and Urban Development), which is the first port of call, but they’ve got plenty of other things you can try too. You may not have thought of the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae organization, for example, or the Nehemiah program. Anyway, the information is here, so take a look.
Help with Education
Education is vital both for your kids to give themselves a good chance to make a successful career and a happy life, and for you to help you get those qualifications that can lead to better jobs and more cash coming in.
Start by filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. You can find some help to do that here:
After that, there are quite a lot of places you can look for help with education costs, whether for you or your kids. Once you’ve exhausted the help the state of Arizona offers, you could try looking at college specific websites, subject specific help, or help for ethnic minorities. If you or your child is handicapped or unwell there may be extra programs in place too. Even big companies and celebrities are getting in on the act, so make it your business to search out the scholarships and grants that could be waiting for you.
Help with Transportation
Arizona has some well developed public transport systems, so get to know them as they are the cheapest way of getting around. The Arizona Transit Association website has lots of information.
Putting all the time and effort into searching for benefits can seem like hard work, but it will pay off in the end.
Use the internet, talk to local people and community or religious associations. Local knowledge is a very useful thing. If there is a single mom’s club in the area, that too can be a great way to get to know people and maybe share some resources.