You have a job, or you need a job and are having trouble finding one. Meanwhile, the PG&E is due, you are about to lose your home, food is scarce, and you have pulled every single trick out of your hat.
what kind of help is available for a struggling single mother???
Luckily, there are services to help, should you be in a situation that requires more than you have. Please note: this is only a short list, a “Cliff’s Notes” version of the resources available. For a full list of services, please call the number at the bottom of this post, or visit CA Dept of Social Services.
If you are pregnant and do not have health insurance, the first thing that needs to be done is to apply for Emergency Medi-Cal. This is only a temporary fix, as you MUST get medical insurance to cover the costs of prenatal visits and care, labor and delivery, and well baby appointments. Thing is, by the time you are pregnant, there are little, if any, insurance companies that will take on an expectant mother. But Medi-Cal will. Problem is, it takes time for an application to be processed, and time is NOT what an expectant mother has. That is why Emergency Medi-Cal is in place. For a family without a baby on the way, Medi-Cal is important to be sure that each child is receiving their check-ups and immunizations, and that there is a safeguard in place in case the worst happens.
The next thing that needs to be done is to find out if you qualify for Cash Aid, Food Aid, and WIC. CA Dept of Social Services has various links for programs that will help. But the best advice is just to visit your local office and get all the information in person. They will help you find all the outlets that will help you to get on your feet. In general, and especially in these tight times, qualifying for these programs can be very difficult. The process is long and tedious, the offices are crowded with those in need, and the forms ask for every single detail of your life. This process is designed to be difficult and excruciating. But stick with it, work with the social workers, and soon you will have some help in making ends meet. Along with Cash Aid, Social Services will enroll you in CalWorks, a program that helps in various ways to find you a decent job. And another little known reason to get on Cash Aid is that you cannot receive financial help with childcare unless you have received Cash Aid for at least one month. Well, you can, but the process is so long that your child might be a teenager before the paperwork goes through. If you are on Cash Aid, that is proof enough that you qualify for the various childcare assistance programs out there, and it will speed the process up considerably.
Before I end this, I want to address the common perception of single mothers receiving Financial Aid. There is no shame in needing help. The jokes I have heard, the prejudices and judgements over a single mother who must rely on the county to feed her child and house her family, it sickens me. The County Assistance system was put in place for people who need it. Are there people who abuse this system? Of course. Give out “free” money, and watch all sorts come out of the woodworks. But go to a county office and you will see those in real need: the mother holding her sleeping child in her lap, the father who has been out of work for months due to an economy that failed him, the very people who need the help of the system to drag them out of the doldrums and get them back on their feet again where they no longer need the help of the state. To have come that far, my friends, to be able to no longer need assistance in standing, it is absolutely gratifying. And it is completely possible. And that is the ultimate reason why these programs exist.
To talk to a live person about Economic Assistance, please call 707-565-5266 and/or go to the offices located at 2550 Paulin Dr. in Santa Rosa. This is for Sonoma County only. For County offices in other California counties, click here.