When you’re the sole provider for your child or children, knowing where and how to get the help you need as a parent can make a huge difference to your quality of life. One of the most important resources a single parent needs is a reliable income and the knowledge required to make that income cover all of your family’s expenses. Of course, if you don’t know where to look for financial help available to single parents, you can’t ask for it, so here is a guide to seeking financial assistance as a single parent.
Subsidized Housing for Single Parents
Housing costs are one of the highest single outgoings for most families, but for a single parent the cost of safe housing can easily rise out of the scope of your budget. Depending on where you live, your country or city may have subsidized housing programs available, with preference given to single parents below a certain income level. Check your local social or governmental services office to inquire about the availability of social or subsidized housing in your area.
If you aren’t able to find subsidized housing in your area, you might consider looking for another single parent to share housing with. CoAbode is an organization that helps single mothers find other like-minded single mothers in the US and Canada who want to share housing costs, housework and childcare. Although there is a membership fee to access the listings of other people available to share housing with, they do provide low-cost single use memberships of $5-15.
Understanding Maternity Leave, Subsidized Child Care and Welfare Payments
It is important to understand the rules surrounding any social welfare payments you may currently receive, or which you might be entitled to claim. If you don’t know you’re entitled to a payment you can’t apply to receive it, so take the time to read through all the relevant documentation that is available on your government’s social services website or phone a government office and talk to a representative who can help you figure out what payments you are entitled to.
It can take some time and persistence to work your way through the red tape and multiple application forms often required to receive government payments, but the increase in income is usually worth the time and effort involved in applying. Remember to ask questions regarding your continued eligibility for any payments you may receive, and how a change in your housing or employment could impact that payment.
Bursaries and Scholarships for Single Parents
Furthering your education is a good way of ensuring a better income for your family in the future, but paying for your university degree can be a real financial challenge for a single parent. Research the bursaries and scholarships available at your university or college, especially those set aside for single parents in particular. Some schools also have an emergency fund, which you can use in case your student loan or scholarship isn’t paid to you on time, or subsidized child care available to students.
Sometimes the hardest part of finding financial aid as a single parent is knowing where to look for it. By researching eligibility requirements for subsidized housing, child care, welfare payments, bursaries and scholarships you will have a better idea of what kind of financial aid is available for single parents in your area.
Originally published on Suite101.com on March 23, 2008