Child Support Help for Single Mothers
Taking good care of their children is the number one priority of most single mothers. However in these economic times where jobs are scarce & housing is becoming more expensive, the job of single moms becomes much more difficult. Single mothers have to provide for housing, food, transportation, medicine & childcare costs for their children. Being the only income of the household, you can imagine how difficult this must be. Most single moms who have gone through relationship breakups are not aware of asking for child support from the child’s father because they don’t know how to or are just afraid their kids will be taken away from them. In this article we describe how you can find help for single mothers by asking for child support & other benefits available to you from the government.
i) Obtaining Child Support from the Father
No matter how depressing this method may be, you have to make yourself aware of your rights & responsibilities so we shall discuss this as point i). To obtain child support from the father, it is advised to go through court and make an application. This will force the father to comply and make child support payments. If he stops making payments, there are ways the court can force him to resume payments.
Be aware that going through court will require you to keep an attorney who would normally charge between $1,500 up to $5,000 depending on the complexity of the case. But the advantage of keeping an attorney is that the process will be much faster & easier.
Another cheaper option is to go through Child Support Enforcement. This process takes longer & CSE cannot force the father to pay, like a court would. However, you can suggest the Child Support Enforcement agency to take the father to court to enforce the payments. In such a case if the father fails to make child support payments, his income tax refunds (if any) will be forfeited and paid to the single mother in lieu of the missed obligations.
Visit the website of the Office of Child Support Enforcement at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/css
ii) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is in place to help single moms provide basic necessities for their children. TANF if also known as welfare but don’t let that discourage you from applying for aid. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says up to $5 billion of funding is available for TANF. As an example, one of TANF’s initiatives is the Summer Food Service Program which aims to provide nutritious meals to children through the course of the summer.
From the website http://www.hhs.gov, “States can seek 80 percent reimbursement through the Fund for a range of expenditures including the cost of compensation for staff support to provide supervision and programming at summer feeding sites, transportation services to transport food and/or children to feeding sites, recreational activities to attract more youth to program locations and meal preparation costs that are not otherwise reimbursed under the SFSP.”
The four purposes of TANF are:
* assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes;
* reducing the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage;
* preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and
* encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows single mothers to purchase groceries & other products by authorizing a transfer of their government benefits from a federal account to a retailer’s account. The program was launched in June 2004 and is available in all 50 states. Think of EBT as a credit card that accumulates your grocery money in to your account. When you go shopping, you can pay with your EBT card, enter your pin and buy your groceries. The amount of money you accumulate depends on how much you qualify for.
You can check how much money you have accumulated in your EBT card by going online at their website https://www.connectebt.com/ The advantages of EBT are:
– No more carrying around cash which is an inconvenience.
– Faster method of payment
– Better than paper food stamps & checks.
– You don’t have to buy all your food benefits at once.
– Receipt at the end of your shopping shows your remaining balance.
Note that EBT card can only be used to purchase food items & seeds/plants for growing food for your household. It cannot be used to purchase items like pet foods, soap & paper products, cosmetics, toothpaste, alcoholic beverages & tobacco.
How to Apply for EBT
Applications for an EBT card can be made at any local county office in your State. Tell them you want to apply for TANF & obtain an EBT card. Each state has a different name for its EBT cards, for example:
– Golden State Advantage Card – California
– Benefit Security Card – Florida
– New York EBT Card – New York