The Federal and the State government administer a number of programs that provide assistance to low-income families in order to help them procure the basics of life, viz. food, housing and utilities. Medical, financial and legal assistance are also provided to families that are struggling to make ends meet.
Assistance Programs for Low Income Families
Here are some important programs that concentrate on making life for low-income families or single parents a lot easier. Various basic provisions are catered to, through these policies and schemes.
Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is a Federal agency that administers 15 nutrition assistance programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, helps low-income families buy groceries using an electronic card obtained by filling out an application form.
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) aims at providing nutrition to pregnant or postpartum women, infants and children up to 5 years of age, provided the applicants' gross income lies below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
Eligible participants receive cheque or food coupons to buy foods rich in proteins, calcium, iron and vitamins A and C.
Judicious budgeting is the prime requirement in order to complete your education and receive qualifications. Being a low-income family or a single parent is not a pleasant situation to deal with, especially when education of the parent or the child is at stake.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a fill-out document, through which the application is forwarded to certain grant providing policies. Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work Study, Perkins Loan and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant are some of the prominent financial aids that take care of basic educational needs.
At present, nearly 1.2 million households are living in public housing units that are managed by 3,300 HAs. These units include single family dwellings as well as condominiums. A US citizen or eligible immigrant, whose gross annual income is less than 80% of the median income of the county in which he/she is residing, is eligible for housing assistance.
In terms of provision of financial assistance, the Department of Health and Human Services offers assistance to helpless and needy families through cash. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), as the name suggests, is a temporary scheme where one is entitled to receive cash benefits for a tenure of 5 years.
This program, launched under the patronage of President Clinton, is a sub-set of the program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). This welfare program has certain prerogatives that a single parent may need to adhere to.
You must join an organization and start working immediately after you receive the grant, the span being extended to two years; this being the upper limit to bagging a job. Single parents have to work for approximately 30 hours per week. However, for low-income families, parents could work anywhere between 35 to 55 hours per week.
Fulfilling these conditions will aid you in receiving the financial aid. Another point to be borne in mind is that the 5 year tenure may be extended, if a single parent or a low-income family applies for the same. Their condition and circumstance is taken into consideration and the decision is taken accordingly.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), that helps households meet their immediate home energy expenses, is a Federally funded grant program that is implemented at the state, tribal, and insular area levels.
Priority is given to families that spend a chunk of their income on energy bills or low-income families with children, disabled and elderly people. The Federal Government provides weatherization assistance by providing materials for attic insulation, caulking, weather-stripping, improving furnace efficiency, replacing furnaces, boilers and air-conditioners.
This is meant for low-on-income families or single parents, in order to help conserve the much-needed energy and aid people who are unable to afford higher utility costs.
Federal Universal Service Programs like Lifeline and Link-up, help such families stay connected. The former provides eligible consumers with a discount on their monthly bill for their primary home phone (even if it's a cell phone), while the latter lowers the cost of setting up a new phone service.
Medicaid Program, that provides medical benefits to low-income households, is administered by each state within the broad framework of the guidelines established by the Federal Government. It is meant for people who do not have medical insurance.
People with inadequate medical coverage are also eligible to receive Medicaid benefits, provided they are deemed eligible in accordance with the rules laid down by the state. Since the eligibility criteria varies from state to state, a person, who is eligible for Medicaid in one state, may not qualify in another.
The basic requirement for receiving the benefit can be summarized as follows: A US national, citizen or permanent resident, who is either responsible for children below the ages of 19 or is pregnant and whose financial situation compels one to seek low-income health insurance, is eligible for Medicaid benefits.
The Legal Services Corporation was established by the Congress to provide legal aid to them for settling civil disputes. The corporation offers indirect assistance by providing grants to approximately 179 local legal aid programs aimed at providing help to clients involved in civil disputes.
The list of programs is a comprehensive one, however, there are a number of other state sponsored programs that indicate the government's willingness to go the extra mile to help low-income families cope with the pressures of life.