Massachusetts is a state famed for its artists, its cranberries and the beaches of Cape Cod. It’s a magnet for tourists who love to visit its historic landmarks and see the famous city of Boston. Life in Massachusetts should be one long holiday…but of course, it isn’t. For single moms, who are struggling to make ends meet on a low income life can be very tough indeed. Not only do single moms have to do all the normal daily tasks of running the house and taking care of the kids, they also have to bring in the money and balance the books. And all that without a partner to shoulder part of the burden!
There is good news though. If you are a single mom in Massachusetts, there are several good state programs to help you out.
The next thing to do is check out Massachusetts TANF program. TANF stands for Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families, and the program is designed to help people like you get back on your feet after a time of hardship. It is only allocated for a maximum of 2 years to each individual, so use the assistance carefully if you decide to apply. TANF also has a work requirement, so if you aren’t currently employed you will be asked to participate in a government work program.
You may also have thought about taking out a Payday Loan. These are short term loans designed to be taken out for just a week or so, to help you over until the next pay check arrives if you receive unexpected bills or expenses. It might sound attractive, but be very careful. These types of loans can be extremely expensive, and can end up making a bad situation even worse. If you are thinking of taking out a short term loan, carefully check the APR (rate of interest) and also the repayment terms. Late repayments can mean big fines. If you can avoid short term loans, it’s a good idea to do so. There are many other ways of getting help with your finances, so check them all out first.
Assistance with food
You and your kids need good food. There are few things more important for growing kids…or for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers for that matter, than good nutrition. That means plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy produce and healthy basics. Many of these things are produced right here in Massachusetts, but they can still be expensive.
If you are having difficulty affording good food for your family, and you live in Massachusetts, here’s what to do.
The state has a program called the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependant Children, which offers assistance in putting food on the table.
There are quite a number of other programs and incentives in Massachusetts that can help you with the purchase of food for your family. There is SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition) WIC (Women, Infants and Children), there’s a Food Pantries scheme and a scheme known as Bags of Food, where bags of baby food and other foodstuffs are handed over free of charge, or at the very least, at a vastly reduced price. The link added below takes you to a website with information about all of these support mechanisms. Don’t forget to apply for free school lunches for the kids too.
Assistance with childcare
Child care is another essential fact of life as a single mother. As a lone parent you not only have responsibility for the kids’ day to day welfare, you also have to earn the money…and that means going out to work and entrusting your kids to someone else. So, finding a really reliable source of child care is vital. In Massachusetts, the Income Eligible Child Care Program makes sure that you are able to find child care without spending all of your earnings on it!
There are other ways to arrange childcare should you find yourself ineligible for a state help program. Make friends with other single parents in your town or neighborhood, and try to establish a babysitting circle. If one or two of you work different part time shifts, perhaps you can share childcare? Or, if there are several single moms, maybe those who go to work can club together to pay a little to a non working mom to take care of the kids?
Think about community groups too, as many churches or other groups offer crèche facilities to members.
Assistance with healthcare
Mothers worry about health of their children all the time…it’s in the job description! Kids become ill with childhood diseases, fall out of trees, get hurt playing soccer…the list is endless. Mostly, these illnesses and incidents are minor and can be treated at home, but sometimes you have to see a doctor, or go to the hospital. It’s all a bit of a worry, especially if money is short. Health care policies can cost a lot, often a lot more than you can afford. So, you need help with healthcare.
In Massachusetts, help with healthcare is provided by Mass Health. While a normal Medicaid assistance is offered only to very low income families or individuals, MassHealth is available in various degrees to both low and medium income families.
Assistance with housing
Housing is a very real problem for a lot of single mothers. Hard to find, costly to buy or often coming with a too high rental, housing is a headache for sure. Yet, when you are raising a family you need a decent home in a safe neighborhood. Where can you turn for help if you live in Massachusetts?
Take a look at the Massachusetts Housing and Community Development program. This offers assistance for single moms on low incomes to find and pay for rental accommodation, and also offers aid to those who are trying to buy their own homes.
If you need help to pay the utility bills, take a look at the LIHEAP scheme. Energy bills can be a real problem, and you can’t afford to not have warmth in winter while you have young children in the home. LIHEAP helps by paying a portion of the heating costs. Find out if you are eligible for their help here:
Assistance with education
If you are able to go back to college to train for a profession, or to get higher qualifications that lead you to a good job, a better life is ahead for you and your family. At some point, your children too will want to go to college.
However, paying for it all can be tough, if you are getting by on very little money. Luckily, there are thousands of grants, loans and scholarships out there for you to take advantage of. Scholarships offered can range from those given to exceptional students with talents in an academic, arts or sporting sphere to those awarded to kids or adults who have been outstanding in helping in the community. Colleges and schools award their own grants and scholarships, as do some employers.
First, go to the FAFSA website. FAFSA stands for ‘Free Application for Federal Student Aid’, and this is what you need to apply for in the first instance.
Massachusetts also has an Education Stimulus Grants program that might help.
If you want to study for a professional qualification such as nursing, there could be grants available for you to do this.
If you or your kids have a disability or illness, search the internet to see if there are any grants available. Many special needs awards are made across the US every year. Some churches or religious groups might even offer scholarships to their members.
Assistance with transportation
If running a car by yourself is too expensive, try getting together with a group of moms to share a car…gas and maintenance prices may be high, but it isn’t so bad if several of you share the cost.
If you live in the countryside, effective public transport can be difficult to find, but if you are based in a town or city there should be a good system already in place that offers affordable transportation. Massachusetts has a reduced bus fares scheme for youngsters and certain other groups of needy people too. So find out about that here:
Making use of what Massachusetts has to offer in grants, subsidies and scholarships can make the difference between struggling to survive and having a good life. So, what are you waiting for?