Free Resources for Single Moms
February 3, 2021
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Being a parent isn’t always a walk in the park, and being a single mother can be plain tough. Whether it’s due to a loss, separation or something else, raising children without a partner can be hard emotionally, physically and financially.
Coming up with enough money to pay all of the bills and maintain a successful career or education, all on top of child care and household chores, is a lot — and going about it alone is not easy. Even for the most resilient of people, everyday life can feel overwhelming without any outside support.
This article aims to provide a variety of resources for single moms to help gain financial independence and peace of mind. Read along to find ways to make the day-to-day a bit easier.
Raising a child on one income can be challenging. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways that single mothers can get some extra cash back in their pocket.
What is considered low-income for a single mother depends on location and the institution asking. You can start your local resource search by going to Single Mom Assistance’s site, selecting your state and county, and browsing through the different options available.
Some other possibilities are:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Funds provided for up to five years by The Department of Human Services to help moms become employed and self-sufficient. Other state-administered assistance such as job preparation, work assistance and child care assistance are also offered through TANF. You can learn more about TANF and see eligibility qualifications on Benefits.gov.
Modest Needs: A non-profit agency that offers short-term financial assistance to families just above the poverty level. Modest Needs recognizes and aims to help individuals who are working full-time and do not technically meet the low-income criteria and therefore can not receive some government-funded organizations. Visit ModestNeeds.org to apply.
SingleMothersGrants.org: This website has a comprehensive list of grants available to single mothers as well as a ton of other resources. Rent and utility grants and other government financial help can be found and applied directly on their site. Just a small portion of the grant categories to learn more about online:
- Grants and scholarships for adults back to school
- Grants for single moms with no health insurance
- Low-income assistance programs
- WIC program for single mothers
- Local church assistance programs for single moms
- Foreclosure assistance programs for single mothers
- Financial assistance programs for disabled mothers
- Grants for felons
- Popular charities that help single mothers with bills
- Grants for paying telephone bills
- Children’s health insurance program for single mothers
- Organizations that offer free or low-cost credit counseling to single parents
- Unemployment benefits for single mothers
- Grants for paying telephone bills
- Free scholarships for single mothers
- Debt consolidation programs for single mothers
Emergencies can happen in an instant. If you’re suddenly no longer able to stay in your home, or have another immediate need for food, clean clothing or another necessity, contact one or all of the following emergency resources below:
Women’s shelters: If you are suddenly no longer able to stay in your home, find a local homeless shelter at HUD.gov.
Rescue missions: Faith-based charities that will provide goods and shelter to those who are experiencing homelessness, abuse, hunger or addiction. Sort missions based on specific needs on Citygate.org
Churches: Regardless of religion or creed, going to a local church to ask for help is encouraged. Often speaking face-to-face with someone who may be in a position to help is the quickest way to get your needs met. Especially during an emergency, it’s likely a request for help will be met with grace and compassion.
Editor’s tip: Prepare your child for an emergency if something does arise. Whether something as small as dealing with a cut or something as serious as talking to a stranger, kids should be confident in how to handle various situations.
Just in case, keep a document with important personal information like their address and allergies on yourself and with your child at all times as a precaution. Fill out this printable I.C.E. sheet to keep safely and conveniently in a wallet, purse or backpack.
The cost of housing is one of the largest monthly expenses that can take a big chunk out of a paycheck and leave moms with little to spend on other necessities. Luckily, some organizations and charities, as well as the government provide resources that help single mothers have access to affordable housing. Securing affordable rent will give moms a chance to save for future needs.
Read more below to see if any of the resources would be of benefit:
Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program: HCV gives housing vouchers to families whose median income is less than 50 percent of the median income in the county they live in. Vouchers are accepted at specific housing units where landlords are incentivized through government payment to house low-income people like single mothers, seniors and those with disabilities.
To find out what locations accept HCV vouchers and other specific requirements, find the local housing agency that is nearest to you. You can go online and find a list of public housing authorities based on location.
Section 8: Section 8 is only taken at specific locations and typically has a long waitlist. While it may be awhile before getting into the program, it’s well worth the wait, as this federal housing program will supply vouchers to pay for up to 70 percent of monthly rent dues. Because of the generosity of this program, the neediest families are prioritized when applying. Learn more about how to get on the waiting list nearest you on the Housing and Urban Development website.
Socialserve: This national non-profit helps connect disadvantaged families to affordable housing. Socialserve compiles lists of apartments and houses that fit the need. They’re also a certified Section 3 and Second Chance employer, which means they also employ the needy. This organization envisions equal employment and housing opportunities for all. You can see more about Socialserve and their commitment to their mission online.
Teaching good health is a critical part of raising children, and that starts with access to wholesome food. To encourage home-cooked meals, the government, along with many local and national organizations, make sure nutritional ingredients are available for free or at a reduced cost to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them. Using a food pantry or an assistance program is a great start.
When you do eat out with your kids, consider going somewhere that children eat for free. More below:
Food pantries: Many communities have local food pantries and banks that supply hungry families with a few bags of groceries. Food pantry eligibility is based on self-attested needs, so the process is fairly quick and simple. Some neighborhood food banks may even offer fresh local produce, specialty goods or even hygiene and toiletry products. More common items provided at a food pantry are:
- Canned fruits and veggies
- Dry beans
- Tinned meat
- Tea or coffee
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP is a government-funded benefits program that provides people in need with a monthly allowance via debit cards that can be used on food. While just about everything able to be consumed by humans is eligible to be paid for via SNAP, items such as pet food, soaps, one-time use dishware, pre-cooked deli items and alcohol products are not eligible.
Although SNAP is a national program, those interested in enrolling must apply via their state-specific program. You can determine your eligibility and find out where to apply on the USDA website.
Editor’s tip: Amazon now accepts SNAP payment on eligible items and will deliver food straight to the front door. Use Amazon coupons when using SNAP benefits to get the best value on your delivered food items.
Restaurants where kids eat free: For times that you get invited to dinner, or simply want to treat yourself (as you should!), save when you can by taking advantage of local restaurants that allow children to eat free.
Some restaurants allow kids to eat free always, while others offer daily deals and discounts. Some places that have cheap options for children’s meals include:
- Boston Market
- Golden Corral
See local restaurants and fast food places where kids can eat cheap or for free near you.
Getting an education is important for many adults, and being the sole provider for children shouldn’t hinder those dreams. To encourage the educational advancement of those who are underprivileged, monies are made available through a few public and private outlets:
Federal Pell Grant: The Pell Grant is the largest need-based student aid program in America. It incentivizes single mothers to go back to school by providing them with funding without having to repay the grant amount. Applications are received by completing the FAFSA form online. Make sure you have your tax and income records along with your Social Security and driver’s license numbers.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): FSEOG is a campus-based aid that covers academic-related expenses for those pursuing higher education but struggling to afford it. The FSEOG is granted on a per-school basis, so eligibility will be based on your specific college/location.
You will automatically be evaluated upon the completion of your FAFSA.
Women’s Independence Scholarship Program, Inc: WISP was specifically created for women who have been the victims of spousal abuse and are now on their own. This program offers financial empowerment by helping women pay for their schooling while also providing other benefits and resources with the goal of economic independence.
See additional eligibility qualifiers and information on their website.
For those working or going to school full-time, child care is a necessity that can be very pricey. While numbers vary from state to state, in California, care for an infant averages around $1,412 per month, $623 per month in Idaho, and $1,082 a month in New Jersey. Thankfully some great places offer child care at a reduced or entirely free rate based on needs and eligibility. Find your local options below:
The YMCA: The YMCA is dedicated to advocating for affordable child care. Their family-centered organization offers subsidized daycare based on need. Depending on your area, they may also offer summer camps and overnight camps for kids of all ages. Contact your local YMCA for region-specific details.
Child Care Aware: This organization works with hundreds of agencies nationwide to help connect parents with low-cost child care options. They provide child care referrals and can even help to find additional ways to pay for it. You can search for a prospective provider directly through their webpage.
Local colleges: Many local colleges and universities offer child care if the school offers degrees in child development or teaching. Opportunities and eligibility vary from school to school, so a smart first step is calling the resource department of your local post-secondary school to get additional information.
Find motivation in knowing that employment of young single mothers has steadily increased to 80%. That’s about 5% up from 2015 and 15% up from 1995.
If you’re an unemployed single mom looking for work, but running into some roadblocks, there are a few places you can go in hopes of finding the perfect job opportunity.
YWCA: The YWCA helps to break down the barrier between single mothers and gainful employment by addressing issues like educational experience, literacy skills and lack of experience. Holding vocational training, practicing certain job skills and hosting other holistic development processes, the YMCA aims to approach and conquer said barriers.
Connect by finding a local YWCA office near you.
Federal Work-Study program (FWS): FWS presents low-income and single-parent college students with employment. These job opportunities allow single moms to provide in ways that are convenient, such as on-campus positions. Those who are full-time students and have child care resources will likely see the most benefit from the FWS program.
Goodwill: Goodwill helps those in need plan or advance their careers by helping them practice job search and interview skills, create an eye-catching resume, build necessary work skills and more.
Goodwill can also help program users find work attire, transportation, child care and more. Visit the Jobs Training section of their website for additional information.
According to the National Institute of Health, single mothers are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, stressful life events, low self-esteem, substance abuse, social isolation and lack of emotional support.
For those reasons, it’s important to encourage single moms to seek emotional support. Therapy and other emotional support resources don’t have to be expensive — see below for places that provide low-cost or free options.
Helping Other People be Empowered (HOPE): HOPE creates a personalized service plan with counselors to help individuals get connected to mentors that can provide spiritual and traditional counseling sessions.
Referrals to other community resources like child care and life skills training are also given at HOPE.
Seleni: Seleni is a maternal mental health website that has many great resources, such as this Emotional Survival Guide for Single Moms that discusses common situations and how a variety of real-life single mothers navigated through them.
ESME: Like Seleni, ESME is also an online resource. ESME uses their site as a chatroom-like platform for single mothers to connect and chat with one another.
ESME is unique because it presents opportunities for mothers to engage with others who are in similar situations and can offer advice or simply act as a friend.
There are also tons (!) of resources on ESME’s webpage that can be sorted by category and location for convenience.
Other Ways to Save as a Single Mom
Daily life has all kinds of expenses that don’t always fall under a larger category like food or housing. For things like food for Fido or some nice slacks to solidify the job interview, there are some smaller charities and nonprofits that can help:
- Technology: PCs for People offers technology like laptops and desktops to low-income individuals. Check your eligibility on their website.
- Maternity clothing: Use this Motherhood.com coupon when shopping for maternity clothing to get quality and comfortable garments at a discounted price.
- Professional clothing: Dress for Success gives women professional clothing to increase career opportunities
- Freebies: Find businesses that offer freebies for parents to save when shopping for babies.
- Utility bills: See if any bills can be subsidized through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Find your WAP local office.
- Petcare: Assistance for your furbaby can be found in each state online at Red Rover.
- Back to school savings: Find back to school essentials like supplies and personal care items on a tight budget.
- Gas: Low-income families can acquire gasoline vouchers from The Salvation Army. Priority goes to single parents with children and seniors.
Days to Celebrate Being a Single Mom
- Single Mothers/Parent Day: March 21, 2021
- Mothers Day: May 9, 2021. Find Mother’s Day specials like freebies and Mother’s Day coupons to save money where you can.
- Women’s Day: March 8, 2021
- Every day! If there is ever a moment where you’re feeling less than the superhero that you are, speak some words of positivity and encouragement to yourself. Print out these single mother mantras and put them somewhere you can see them often, such as at your desk, on the bathroom mirror, in your wallet or anywhere else!
Being a wonderful mother doesn’t depend on the size of the house, the type of food served or the brand of clothing worn — it’s about determination, willpower, faith and, most of all, love.
Hopefully, this article will help reassure any single mothers in their ability to conquer hardships through resourcefulness and hard work.
Editor’s tip: Buy yourself some flowers, you deserve it. And if that isn’t reason enough, here’s a 1800Flowers.com coupon!
Sources: Single Mom Assistance | Benefits.gov | ModestNeeds.org | SingleMothersGrants.org | HUD.gov | Socialserve | FoodPantries.org | USDA | StudentAid.gov | WISP | EPI.org | YMCA | Child Care Aware | YWCA | Goodwill | National Institute of Health | HOPE, Inc. | Seleni | ESME | Citygate.org | PCs for People | Dress for Success | NASCSP | Red Rover | The Salvation Army | Single Mother Guide | NY Times | Thrillist |
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