We are all living in difficult economic times, but if you are a single mother, chances are you are finding it more difficult than most. Just finding enough cash to pay the rent and the household bills, to put food on the table and to pay for basic healthcare is challenging enough, but add to that the rising costs of college education and childcare and you can start to feel really desperate.
What you need is to know that there’s help available, and it’s available to you, now, in the state of Florida. Not every program may match your profile, but if you take a good look at everything that’s on offer there’s a good chance you’ll find something that takes the pressure off.
Knowing that help is available is one thing: Finding it and applying for it can be quite another. So below you will find a list of organisations and people to contact to help you get the assistance you need.
Cash is probably you most immediate worry, if there never seems to be enough. Cash hand outs can be hard to find, but there are grants and emergency cash payments to be had if you qualify. The link below can put you in touch with someone who can advise you.
TANF…Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families is also worth a look. They provide temporary help to needy families, and although their programs carry a list of criteria you have to fit, and the help is temporary, it could be just what you need to start you off in the right direction. Their help is offered to needy and low income families, single moms and pregnant women. Their website has all the details of how to qualify and how to apply for the assistance. You can contact them here:
The Florida Department of Children and Families may also be able to provide temporary cash assistance. All the information and eligibility rules are here:
Payday loans and other short term loans might seem to offer an answer to cashflow problems, but do be careful. A lot of these loans have very high interest rates, and if you don’t pay them back on time can levy punitive fines too.
Please note, a recent development states that in order to qualify for state assistance of any type in Florida now it is obligatory to pass a test to prove you are free of drugs. If you have a problem with drugs, it is essential to get the right medical and emotional support to get clean so that you can care for your family properly. Start here to get off drugs:
Food is essential. Of course. But if you are a mother, you want to give your kids the best food so that they grow up healthy, happy and strong. You also need really good, nutritional food if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and other staples can be expensive, and the shopping budget doesn’t always stretch far enough to buy enough of them.
Don’t worry; there is plenty of help available in Florida.
First look again at TANF, linked above. Next try the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program. This is aimed at moms with young children, or who are expecting or feeding infants. It can offer important and helpful advice on nutrition as well as providing actual help with the cost of food
It is also well worth taking a look at Florida’s Food banks. Using charitable donations and actual food donations from local producers, the food banks offer essential foods to needy families, and you could benefit.
Florida also has a food stamps program. The link below tells you who is eligible for this assistance, what foods you can buy with the vouchers, and how to apply.
So you can see, there’s no need for you and your kids to go hungry if you live in Florida. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you are entitled to.
Getting affordable and reliable childcare is yet another problem that single moms have to face. You don’t have the luxury of choosing to be a stay home mom, because you’re not just a mom, you’re the family breadwinner too. It isn’t easy. If you can’t get childcare that you trust and can afford, you can’t get pout to work to earn the money to support the family. If you need qualifications to find a better paying job, you might want to go to college…but how, if you can’t find childcare?
TANF may be able to help (see link given earlier) or take a look at the webpage linked below.
Sometimes you can get help with childcare though making friends. There could be other single moms in your neighbourhood who work different hours and will share childcare with you. Look around your community too, because there may be a church group or other community association that runs a crèche and offers subsidized prices for single moms.
Health is important. Mothers know that bringing up healthy kids is one of the most important jobs they have to do. Good food is a great start, but what if there are illnesses and accidents that you don’t expect? These things happen to all of us, especially to kids who are prone to climbing trees, falling over and catching childhood illnesses. If your child has a serious illness or disability, there may be special help available.
Medicaid offers assistance with all aspects of healthcare to low income families, so see if you are eligible. If you qualify, Medicaid can also offer help with other aspects of life like transportation, so it’s important to apply if you fit the criteria.
Not everyone qualifies for Medicaid, though, so it’s possible you may need to seek help elsewhere. Florida also has Medikids (for infants from 1 to 4 years of age) and Healthy Kids, for older children up to the age of 18.
Housing is one of the most expensive aspects of modern life, and it is one you can’t avoid. Moms with kids need safe, decent, affordable housing, but it can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look, or where to go to get help.
If you are a single mom in Florida, and are on a low income, Florida Emergency Assistance for Housing program may be able to help, so take a look at the website and get in touch.
If not, there is HUD. This is the department of Housing and Urban Development’s site, which can offer subsidized rents and even assistance to buy affordable housing to those who are eligible.
Help to pay the rent isn’t all you may need. Utility bills can be a huge headache too. You might need heat in winter, and cooling in summer, and those bills can really mount up. See if Florida’s assist program can help you here.
The bad news is that education costs a lot of money. It might be you that needs to go back to college to further your education, or it might be that your kids are ready to go to college. Either way, you have to find a way to pay for it all.
The good news is that education is an area that attracts a lot of grants, scholarships, loans and financial help.
So, begin by looking at what the state offers. See if you are eligible for FAFSA. This is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The above link takes you to a FAFSA website where you can learn about eligibility criteria, download a form, get help filling it in if you want, and discover the codes you need to apply for assistance for the college you want to attend. Filling in the form correctly is really important, so don’t be scared to ask for assistance with it if you have any doubts.
Look also at Florida’s own state program. Schemes such as Bright Futures may be just what you are looking for.
There are many other ways to get assistance with the costs of education. Scholarships and grants may be awarded to people (adults or children) who suffer from certain illnesses and disabilities, to members of ethnic groups or of religious communities. Colleges often have their own schemes, and others are available to students of particular subjects. Explore every possibility, there are so many!
A lot of big companies have scholarships to offer (look at schemes from Coca Cola or Bill Gates/Microsoft among others), and even celebrities like David Letterman and Alicia Keys award scholarships in their names.
A car of their own is all too often out of the question for single moms. Cars cost a lot to buy, and a whole lot more to keep on the road. But, you have to get around. Moms need to take their kids to school, to get to work, or to keep essential doctors and hospital appointments. The best thing to do is to get to grips with local services of public transport. Most cities in Florida have plenty of buses and sometimes minibus schemes that can help, and all at a low cost. If you decide you really need a car, perhaps because you live outside a town and don’t have access to the public transport systems, there are possibilities. A free car? You never know unless you look!
Florida is a great state. A sunshine state, and one that is a very desirable place to live. If you’re a single mom, you need to be sure that you can make the most of your opportunities to enjoy life in Florida. Use the help the state offers you and enjoy a better life.
If you moms know about any other assistance programs in the state of Florida, please share the details in the comment section below.