Missouri can be a great state to live in, with vibrant cities and some stunning countryside. Even better, it’s ranked 9th best state for quality of life…and out of America’s 50 states, that’s a pretty good ranking! More good news is that Missouri also has one of the lowest costs of living in the US, a good sunshine record to keep you cheerful and excellent healthcare, education and recreational opportunities. All wonderful to hear, if you live in Missouri.
But…and there is a but…if you are a single mom, chances are that even given the facts above, life can prove tough. Single moms have to bear all the responsibility and worry of bringing up a family without a partner to share it all with. Worse, you have to survive on just one income instead of two…and even one income can be hard to get if you don’t have the qualifications to find a decent job or afford child care.
Missouri recognizes these problems, and wants to help. There are various state programs you can get involved in that offer help with housing, child care, healthcare and even ones that help you to put good, healthy food on the table for your kids.
There is a great program called TANF (Temporary Financial Assistance for Needy families) that can help you out in lots of ways. If you’re registered for TANF you can get access to lots of aid programs too, so take a good look.
There is a 5 year time limit on TANF aid, so check it out before you apply. It’s a lifetime limit, so use it wisely. You should also understand that there is a work requirement alongside TANF programs, so if you don’t currently have a job you will have to take part in a work program. However, TANF can be a great way to put all the difficulties behind you and start building a better future.
Payday loans, which are short term cash loans to get you out of a short term problem like unexpected bills arriving can be another way to go. However, a lot of these have very high payback rates and impose high fines on late repayments. They are now better regulated than they used to be, and the worst of the cowboy lenders have been chased away, but still take care before you d sign for on of these. Make sure, if you have to do it, that you choose a reputable lender and can meet all of the terms. Remember, grants are better than loans as these don’t have to be repaid.
Assistance with food
Good quality nutrition is never more important than when you are pregnant, breastfeeding or feeding young children. It can also, however, be expensive. The cash you get each month just doesn’t always stretch to enough fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy produce and other essentials, so what can you do?
In Missouri, the SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) can help. This used to be called the Food Stamps program, but it has been updated and now offers you a swipe card which can be used in payment or part payment for foodstuffs and even things like seeds to plant to grow your own vegetables! To find out more and to get a list of participating stores in your area, follow the link below:
The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program can be another source of help with food supplies if you have kids who are under 5 years of age. Check it out here:
If neither of the other programs here helps you, also check out the Food Banks or Food Pantries of Missouri. More information is found below:
Assistance with childcare
Child care is essential if you have to go to work and have young kids. And, if you are a single mom, it is almost a certainty that you will have to go out to work. The problem, of course, is how to find reliable child care, and how to pay for it.
If you are a single mother in Missouri, you can get involved in the Child Care Assistance program. To see if you are eligible for this aid, look at the link included here:
If you are enrolled in a TANF program you will also find child care assistance through that.
If for any reason, the above options can’t help you, don’t panic. Start by getting to know other single moms in your neighborhood. It could be that between you you can arrange shared childcare. If not, perhaps there is a local community or religious association locally that has a babysitting scheme or crèche? There could even be someone living near to you who could do with a little extra income who would be happy to take care of a few kids for a smaller fee than big nurseries would charge. Ask around, there’s a good chance you’ll find something.
Assistance with healthcare
Healthcare policies are vital, but they can cost just too much money. As a mom, you know that kids have a habit of hurting themselves or getting sick just when money is at its tightest, so you need to have a safety net in place for healthcare. Kids also need regular dentistry and other forms of routine care even if they are perfectly healthy, as do pregnant moms.
The first thing to do is to see if you qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid, if you are eligible, should take care of all your needs, both emergency medical and routine. However, not everyone is eligible, as Medicaid is designed for families on really low incomes.
If you just miss out on Medicaid’s help, there are other options. There’s MO Healthnet, for one:
Assistance with housing
Just another problem to add to your never ending list is housing. Finding suitable housing for you and your kids, and then paying the rent of mortgage can be a real worry for single moms. HUD (Housing and Urban Development) can help with everything related to housing from finding accommodations to subsidizing rents and even helping you to buy your own home. See if the solution to your problem is here:
Missouri, thankfully, as a relatively mild and temperate climate, but there will still be times that you need heating or cooling in your home. Energy bills can become impossibly high if there is a cold snap, and you can’t afford to be without warmth if you have young children or babies.
If paying the utility bills is worrying you, try looking to see if you can get assistance with these through LIHEAP.
Assistance with education
If it is education and the associated costs that are giving you headaches, there are literally hundreds of possibilities of help. It could be you, or it could be your kids who want to go to college, and the aid you can apply for all depends on what you want to do, where you want to go and your own personal circumstances. Begin with looking at FAFSA.
FAFSA stands for ‘Free Application for Federal Student Aid’, and this is what you need to apply for in the first instance. The link below gives you information, lets you download the forms you need to apply and gives you the school codes for Missouri schools. You can also ask for help to fill in the forms if you aren’t too sure what to do.
Professional courses like nursing, often attract financial aid, so if you think this might apply to you, find out what’s available. Further ways of getting help with the expenses of education can range from individual or specific to college scholarships to sponsorship from an employer. Some churches or religious groups actually offer scholarships, grant or loans for education to their members. Talented kids can find scholarships whether their talents lie in academic subjects, sports or even if they have been acclaimed for helping out in the community.
Assistance with transportation
The cost of running a car can be offset if you share with a group of other moms.
If you are based in a city in Missouri, get to know the public transport systems. Even rural areas may have good transport, so find out about it here:
There is a lot of help on offer in Missouri, so make sure you don’t miss out on your entitlement.