The state of Montana is known for its wide open spaces, its prairies, its cattle and its outdoor sports. In fact, if you have a little cash to spare what could be better than enjoying all that Montana has to offer? But, what if you happen to be a single mom, struggling to find enough money to feed your kids, let alone enough to enjoy outdoor sports with them? Then it can be a whole different story.
Life as a single mom is often a tough one. You have all the responsibility of raising a family, and you have to face all the problems alone. Moreover, you have only yourself to rely on to earn enough money to keep the family fed and healthy. It can be a very difficult call, at times.
The good news is that the state of Montana has put in place a number of programs to help single moms to get by.
Montana also offers a chance to get involved in the TANF program. TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and it is a great program that can give you help in loads of areas of family life. It is a program that can help you for up to five years (though this is a lifetime limit, so use it wisely), and it can help you get back into work too.
It is possible that if you are really short of cash and you receive unexpected bills in the middle of the month you might be looking at taking out a loan to tide you over. That’s fine, but proceed with caution. Some of these short term loans, or Payday Loans as they are often called, can have very high interest rates and large fines for late repayments. Government regulations have stopped many of the worst ones, but read all the terms and conditions very thoroughly and only deal with reputable lenders like banks.
Assistance with food
One of the responsibilities of being a mother is feeding your family well. The nutritional needs of babies, children (and yourself too, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding) can be higher than normal, and it’s essential to have enough good, healthy food in the cupboards and the refrigerator. You want to be able to provide fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, milk and eggs instead of sugary junk food, but the good stuff is all too often more expensive than the junk. How can you afford it if you have a low income?
In Montana, the program to look at is called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program). SNAP replaced the old food stamps program, which you may still hear referred to. If you are eligible for help through SNAP, you will be issued with an electronic swipe card which is used as payment or part payment for food from participating grocery stores. The information you need to find out if you could claim this help is below on the link:
The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program can also help with food supplies if you have kids who are under 5 years of age. Check it out here:
Don’t forget too that Montana has Food Banks that could be of assistance in getting the nutrition you and your kids need. Food is donated to the scheme by farmers, local producers and benefactors and allocated to needy families. Here’s how to find the Food banks in Montana:
Assistance with childcare
As a single mom, you know it’s down to you to go out to work as well as to raise the kids right. But going out to work is impossible if you don’t have access to affordable, reliable childcare. Finding the right child care solution is a problem in itself, but paying for it can seem like just too much to cope with. Some moms on low incomes find it costs as much as they can earn just to get the kids looked after while they go to work!
There are solutions to this, so start off with taking a look at Montana’s Best Beginnings program. This is designed to help moms access and pay for the right child care for their situation. You can find out all you need to know on this link:
If you don’t qualify for help through Best Beginnings, there are still things you can do to help yourself. Some churches or other religious groups have child care on offer to members, while there may also be other community groups in your neighbourhood that can help. You might even have a public spirited employer who may run a scheme for his/her employees or help with a little subsidy towards the care of your kids while you work. If none of these seem to be options, why not get together with other single moms and form your own group? You can share the childcare if you work different shifts, or pay a little each to one mom to care for the kids.
Assistance with healthcare
Ok, so we’ve dealt with cash, with food and with childcare. Another of your worries will undoubtedly be health care. Pregnancy always requires medical routine care at best, while young children need vaccinations, dental checks, optical care and extra care in the case of illness or accidents. And, if you or the kids have a chronic or serious illness or disability, your needs will double. Health care policies are expensive, and sometimes you just can’t make the money go far enough to pay for them.
If you have a low income, take a look at Medicaid. In Montana you can find out all about it on this link:
You will notice that the above link also gives information on a program called Healthy Montana Kids Plus. The latter program can provide health care for children whose families don’t fit the criteria for full Medicaid. It doesn’t pay all the costs, but it can help to make them more manageable.
Assistance with housing
If you are a single mom, another of your concerns might well be housing. Moms and kids need safe and decent housing, but rents can be high and mortgages out of the question if you are having a hard time just paying for food!
In Montana, there is a program known as Home to Stay that can provide that vital assistance to find and pay for good accommodation.
Winters can be savage in Montana, and while the snow looks pretty and skiing and tobogganing are great family fun for those with spare cash to enjoy them, a more important matter is finding enough money to keep your home warm in winter. No moms and kids should be too cold in the home, so why not see if LIHEAP can help you to pay those electric bills?
Assistance with education
If you want to improve your future employment prospect you may need to go back to college to pick up some more qualifications. It may also be that your children are ready to go to college…either way, you are the one who has to find the finance.
FAFSA stands for ‘Free Application for Federal Student Aid’, and this is what you need to apply for to get going. The link below gives you information, lets you download the forms you need to apply and gives you the school codes for Montana too. Help is also available if you need it, to fill in the forms correctly, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Professional courses, such as nursing, often attract special help with financing, so if you think this might apply to the course you want to take, find out what’s available. More ways of getting help with the expense of education can range from individual or specific to college scholarships to sponsorship from an employer.
There are also grants which may be applicable if you or your kids have a disability or illness. Cancer sufferers can get extra help in many cases. Check it out on the internet, as many of these special needs awards are made across the US every year. Some churches or religious groups might even offer scholarships, grant or loans for education to their members. If your kids are especially talented in sports, academic subjects or even in helping out in the community in some way there may be scholarships on offer for them too. You won’t know unless you get looking!
Assistance with transportation
You can offset the costs of running a car if you join forces with a group of moms and share the school run and other necessary journeys. It can be a good way to meet people too…if you have a car, stick an advert in the local store and see who replies!
Finally, moms who live in Montana’s cities should find public transportation pretty reliable and affordable.