The statistics are high. Every six out of 10 children who live with their mothers only are living below the poverty line, according to the United States Census. This typically creates the need for financial assistance for the family. The state and federal government have created a number of welfare benefits programs that are in place to help single mothers feed, clothe and shelter their children. In 1996, welfare reform legislation placed more emphasis on time and work limits.
Single mothers can only receive benefits for so long, but this limit is different for each case and different states. Assistance from the welfare office is not meant to pay for everything in the household; it is only meant to supplement the family’s income to help alleviate the costs associated with being a one-parent household.
TANF, or Temporary Aid for Needy Families, replaced the program formerly known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children back in 1996. This block grant program reflects the current welfare reform guidelines. Eligible families can receive a cash grant every month from the TANF program for a period of up to two years However, the program does come with work requirements. For example, a single mother who has a child under the age of six is required to work for 20 hours a week or more. This includes any job training that they may need to take for a new position. A single parent with a child or children over the age of six will be required to work 30 hours per week in order to reap the benefits of the program. This program will help single parents who are struggling to make ends meet even while working as much as they can.
Medicaid is in place to provide medical care for individuals who are considered low-income. However, just because a person qualifies for other types of welfare doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be eligible for Medicaid, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is because the eligibility requirements between programs can be vastly different. Children who are living in low-income families will likely qualify for Medicaid before an adult will. However, a low-income pregnant woman will often qualify for coverage to cover both prenatal care and childbirth.
Women, Infants and Children is a program that many pregnant and nursing mothers qualify for when they have children under the age of five. This program is known as WIC and is offered in every state in the country. WIC provides paper vouchers to those who qualify; however, these vouchers are only good for certain foods. They are given for highly nutritious foods, such as cereal, beans, milk, eggs and peanut butter.
Food stamp assistance, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, provides help to those who are low-income and need assistance purchasing food. If you are already receiving certain other forms of welfare, such as TANF, you are more than likely eligible to receive food stamps from your state.
Because the welfare system is intended to be supplemental assistance for those who are working, many single mothers can receive benefits even while they have a job. This is because many of their wages are still low enough that they can receive food stamps, WIC and even Medicaid in some cases. There are also subsidies that will help single mothers pay for their child care while they are working. Additionally, state-funded job training programs can help single moms get qualified for higher-paying employment opportunities.
The United States Department of Urban Development is in charge of the Section 8 Housing Program, a program that provides help for those who cannot pay for housing by themselves. To be eligible for Section 8, the total household income of the individual or family must be below 50% of the average median income for the geographical area. Since median incomes vary greatly across the United States, eligibility levels also vary. Any qualified recipient will only have to spend 30% of what they make on their housing costs. They will receive a voucher that pays for the rest of their rent. Only properties that accept Section 8 vouchers are eligible, and there are long waiting lists associated with this program.