Raising a family requires a lot of money. Let’s look at an example: families with middle-class incomes who had a child in 2015 may anticipate spending about $233,610 on basics (such as food, shelter, etc.) only up until the child turns 17 years old. This amount does not include any unnecessary expenses either (like a college education). Not everyone has that much money lying around. As a result, some families rely on support that can help with their situation. The government has a number of options available to take into consideration as it is aware that many families may need assistance.
Federal Supportive Programs for Families
It is possible that some people do not know enough about the different supportive programs that the federal government provides to help families in the U.S. The following is a list of some of these assistance programs:
- Head Start
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Childcare is one of many costs a family should deal with at some point. Unfortunately, it is not affordable to everyone since preschool typically costs $889 per month. People can benefit from the Head Start program because of this. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers who qualify can get assistance from Head Start programs. Helping children get ready for school is Head Start’s main objective. The program can take place in many different locations including daycare facilities, the child’s house, and so on.
Head Start does not only focus on children, but it also aims to support other important family members, especially the parents. The program seeks to create strong bonds between the family members in the hopes of having a long-lasting positive impact on family wellbeing. This program seeks to help with the following aspects by working with the entire family:
- The family well-being
- Learning and early development of children
- The family’s health
Head Start is the umbrella term for different types of supportive programs that include:
- Standard Head Start
- Early Head Start (EHS)
- Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS)
- American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Head Start
Different Head Start programs will focus on different things. So, depending on your current circumstances, one program can be more suitable than another. It’s significant to remember that not everyone qualifies for this opportunity. Check out the Head Start Locator tool if you are interested in applying for this support opportunity. The government has made this resource available to the public, and it can show the visitors the nearest program.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Families may encounter challenging times. They might earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to cover the cost of private health insurance. It might be overwhelming for people when they find themselves in this situation. Fortunately, CHIP is one support option that could help. For children without insurance, this program can offer health coverage. States are responsible for managing the program even though it is jointly funded by state governments with the federal government. However, states must comply with federal regulations while doing so! Therefore, it is crucial to remember that each state will have different eligibility requirements for CHIP. Nevertheless, as a general rule, people can anticipate that children who meet the following criteria will be eligible for this aid opportunity:
- Are 18 years old or younger
- Have valid citizenship
- Live in the state they apply in
- Meet specified-state requirements
This coverage support opportunity may result in the following types of health benefits:
- Medical support for infants and children
- Dental coverage
- Insurance for behavioral health services
You should submit an application through your state’s Medicaid/CHIP agency if you are interested in this program. This agency is the one responsible for managing the program!
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Managing the cost of food can be difficult, especially if you need to feed a large family. As a general rule of thumb, a family of four who wants to buy groceries on a budget should aim to spend between $936.40 and $1,014 per month. A family of four should aim to spend not more than $939.90 per month on food if they want to be cost-effective. In either case, feeding a family of four costs about $1,000 each month! Depending on their financial status, families may not be able to afford that (and it may even be more expensive if there are more than four family members!). For people in need, SNAP can be a fantastic option for support. Although families are not the only type of recipients of this program, they can greatly benefit from this opportunity!
The goal of SNAP is to assist families in becoming self-sufficient. It is run by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency that belongs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Families who meet the requirements for SNAP may receive nutrition benefits each month. The beneficiaries receive monthly funds through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.. Keep in mind this type of card can only be used to pay for eligible products at stores that accept them as a payment method.
The Application Process
To take advantage of this assistance opportunity, you have to apply. The application will determine your eligibility for this program. It is crucial to keep in mind that the state-specific requirements of this program will be different. As a result, the application process will not be the same in all states. You should get in touch with your state agency for further information on the program, the application process, and so on. You can contact them by visiting their office in person, by visiting their website, or over a phone call using their toll-free number.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Families with financial difficulties may be able to benefit significantly from TANF. This is a federal government program that distributes money to states (and territories) to run their own TANF program. This opportunity’s major objective is to assist families in achieving financial self-sufficiency. In addition to this objective, this program also has the following goals:
- Encourage two-parent families
- Reduce the number of unmarried couples from becoming pregnant
- Prevent parents from depending on government assistance
- Help kids get care in the convenience of their own home or a relative’s home
This program supports families with monthly cash payments. It should be noted that this money will not come directly from the federal government, instead, the state governments will be responsible for providing the public with it. This program can offer further assistance in addition to the monthly cash payments. Employment assistance, child care assistance, and other forms of support are also available. Since this program is dedicated to a specific group of people, not everyone will be able to benefit from it. So, you will only be eligible for TANF if you meet the following requirements:
- Have eligible citizenship status
- Be under or unemployed
- Have a qualifying income status
- Be pregnant, have a child under the age of 18, or be the head of the family and no older than 18 years old.
That being said, you may find some differences between the requirements of each state. You can consider the points we mentioned above as general guidelines. If you think you qualify for TANF and want to apply for it, you should get in touch with the program agency in your state.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC is another program that provides food aid. The states receive grants from the federal government through this program so that they can provide benefits like:
- Supplemental food
- Medical care referrals
- Social service referrals
- Nutrition instruction
Not everyone is eligible for this support, just like the other options on this list (you should already know that by now). Benefits are only available to people who meet certain qualifying requirements including:
- Women who are pregnant: both during pregnancy and for up to six weeks after it ends
- Breastfeeding mothers: until the baby turns one year old
- Women who have recently given birth: up to six months following delivery
- Infants: up to their first birthday
- Children: up until the age of five
Although the federal government funds WIC, the program is run by 89 WIC state agencies through around 47,000 authorized retailers. You will need to schedule an appointment with either your local agency or the state agency that administers WIC if you want to apply for it. You can check out the contact details for your state online.
Taking care of a family requires a lot of effort and can be stressful. This is why it is critical to be aware of available assistance options like Head Start, CHIP, SNAP, TANF, and WIC programs. Your current situation will determine which support opportunity is best. In any case, you should reach out to the program agency to find out more information.