Single mothers are those women who are singlehandedly trying to raise a family, due to the absence of a partner. Some single mothers are in dire need of any and all kinds of assistance to accomplish that daunting task. Child care for single mothers is one avenue of assistance provided through government and other agencies. Assistance is given for children with normal needs as well as special needs.
Listed here are some of the more popular Child Care Assistance Programs that single parents might take advantage of.
Early Head Start (EHS)
This program was launched in 1995 to provide support to infants, toddlers, and pregnant women in low-income families. The aim of EHS programs is to –
- enhance the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of children,
- help pregnant women to receive thorough prenatal and postpartum care,
- support parents in their efforts to become better parents, and
- assist parents to strive for self-sufficiency.
Head Start, a program established in 1965, helps children from age three to age five, in low-income families, to be ready for school. The program does this by making the following services available to them:
- social and other services.
This assistance is given so that the social and cognitive development of children can be enhanced. Parents are significantly involved in the program as they help their children to become literate and educated in preparation for employment in later life.
Head Start works through communities to help parents to become confident care givers through self-development. Funding is provided to build communities.
Parenting Children with Special Needs
Children with special needs are those with some kind of disability, and some of these disabilities may affect the way a child learns. There are two types of disabilities:
When a member of a child’s body, such as an ear, eye, or feet, does not function in the way that it should, the child is said to have a physical disability. This prevents the child from learning in the way other children learn, even though the child may be intelligent.
These disabilities can be as mild as not being able to identify letters quickly, or as severe as mental retardation, which can be moderate of severe. Some disabilities will diminish as the child grows, while others will not.
It is possible for a child to have one or both types of disabilities. If a mother suspects that her child has a problem there are tests that can be done to confirm or alleviate the suspicion. The kind of care the child needs would then be determined.
…Some Common Disabilities
Two of the most common disabilities diagnosed in young children are hearing impairment and deafness. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has separate definitions for both. The disabilities are –
This is a defect in the hearing ability that negatively affects the educational performance of a child. The impairment can be temporary or permanent – a hearing loss.
This is a defect that is severe enough to prevent a child from processing linguistic information by way of hearing, with or without some form of amplification.
…Things to Remember About Disabilities
As soon as it is confirmed that a child has a particular disability or disabilities, the following points should be borne in mind:
- Disabilities are not alike.
- No two children are exactly the same.
- There are many resources that can help a child with a disability.
- Children with disabilities are just as entitled to a good education as other children are.
- Being a parent to a child with a disability may not be easy, but it can be as rewarding as parenting a child without a disability.
Hearing loss or deafness does not define a child’s academic capacity or his ability to learn. Assistance is needed so that the child may be able to adequately receive an education and realize his full potential. This could include sign language, lip reading, or finger spelling training. The following assistance may also be given:
- Auditory, speech, and language training from a specialist,
- Sound amplification systems,
- A sign language interpreter, if manual communication is used,
- Favorable class seating arrangement to accommodate lip-reading,
- Close-captioned videos and films,
- A note taker for taking class notes while the hearing loss student pays attention to class instruction
- Sign language classes
Health Care Assistance
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supports health centers that serve a medically underserved population, the homeless, and residents of public housing, among others. Single mothers could benefit from this program. Primary health services are delivered and these include:
- Health services relating to –
- family medicine,
- internal medicine,
- pediatrics, and
- obstetrics or gynecology
- Diagnostic laboratory and radiology services,
- Preventive health services –
- Prenatal and perinatal services,
- Appropriate cancer screening,
- Well-child services,
- Immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases,
- Screening for elevated blood lead levels, communicable diseases, and cholesterol,
- Pediatric eye, ear, and dental screenings for correction, if necessary, and care,
- Voluntary family planning services, and
- Preventive dental services
- Emergency medical services, and
- Pharmaceutical services, as appropriate.
Additional health services are also available, and these include –
- Behavioral and mental health and substance services,
- Recuperative care services,
- Environmental health services, which include
- Detection and eradication of unhealthy conditions regarding –
- Water supply
- Exposure to chemicals and pesticides
- Air quality, or
- Exposure to lead
- Sewage treatment
- Solid waste disposal
- Rodent and parasitic infestation
- Field sanitation
- Housing, and
- Other environmental health-related factors.
Research Connections Input
This organization provides assistance to needy families through the NCCP and the OCC.
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
This organization seeks and promotes the following strategies –
- Prevention of child poverty in the US
- Improvement of the lives of low-income families.
The Office of Child Care (OCC)
The OCC is responsible for administering the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) which:
- Provides child care subsidies for 1.6 million children in low-income families, monthly
- Works to improve the quality of child care in states, and territories across the country
- Highlights child care issues within the Administration on Children and Families (ACF)
- Facilitates direct collaboration with the Office of Head Start and other key agencies
- Works with early childhood programs
- Works at expanding the number of high quality early learning and school-age care choices for working families
- Provides continued funding for states and territories who provide child care assistance.
The Afterschool Investments Project (AIP)
This group provides a list of annually updated resources in support of afterschool program developers and policy makers. These persons are working to improve access to high quality school-age programs in their states, territories, and communities, through, among others –
- Program Development – by way of activities planning, curriculum development, and program management.
- Financing and Sustainability
- School-Age Care Settings
Afterschool programs also incorporate summer vacation programs, for continued education when school is out of session.
YMCA – The Y for Youth Development
The Y has an aftercare program where children have their homework checked, and then engage in arts and crafts and other activities. The Y believes that values and skills learnt early in life, help to mold children and assist them to make smart life choices. Children are encouraged to explore their interests and unique talents and realize their full potential, making them confident kids today and contributing adults in the future. The Y makes the following contributions:
Child care and early learning programs try to holistically nurture development through –
- the learning of foundational skills
- the development of trusting, healthy relationships, and
- the building of self-reliance through the Y’s values of –
- respect, and
- Child Care, Afterschool and Child Watch programs which cater to infants through to preschoolers, kindergartens through middle schoolers, and a drop-in care facility. These are all aimed at enabling moms to leave the kids and go to work without worrying about them, and later enjoying the facilities of the Y, while their children’s safety, health, social growth, and academic enhancement are looked after by caring staff.
Education & Leadership
Children are encouraged to set and achieve personal and educational goals, and to envision and strive for a positive future, and help strengthen their communities. This is done through programs like –
- Leaders Clubs
- Youth and Government
- Achievers Programs
- CIT and LIT Teen Leadership Programs at Camp
- College Goal Sunday, and
- Swim, Sports & Play
Aimed at building the whole child, from inside to outside. Children learn swimming and other sports, and build positive relationships that foster good sportsmanship and teamwork. Areas of focus are –
- Youth Sports and
- Competitive Sports
There are different types of camps which encourage kids to make discoveries. They are able to explore nature, discover new talents, try out new activities, gain experience, and develop lasting friendships and build memories. The types of camps are –
- Overnight Camps, which can last for a few days or a few weeks in the scenic outdoors from New Hampshire to Hawaii. Trained and experienced leaders guide the children and teenagers into a variety of outdoor adventures. They have fun, and build skills, friends, and character values.
- Day Camps, that are mainly for elementary children, and some preschoolers and teens, and occur in urban and rural settings. They offer the same benefits as the longer camps, but allow campers to return home every afternoon.
- Specialty Camps which focus on either special programs like teen adventure, music, sports specialties, and farm or ranch experiences, or on campers with special needs. The Y believes that camp is for everyone, including youths with developmental disabilities, and physical and mental health challenges, or other types of impairments that may need special attention. They all benefit from the specialty camping opportunities that the Y provides for them.