State Financial Assistance For Single Moms And Families is available. Many people think you have to separate from your spouse, but that's simply not true, and in light of the economic events of the past 3 years, I've decided to make this post to help other seeking financial aid.
Now, the Cash Assistance Program itself isn't a bad one, if you understand how to play their little game, but believe me, it is a game and it's got to be played like a chess game. Very, very strategically. If you can do it at the very beginning of the year, before you've filed your tax returns for the previous year, it's going to be a lot easier. Or if you haven't filed yet.
First off, and this is something I wholeheartedly disagree with and hope to offer a solution for at some time in the future, you must have kids to qualify for any cash assistance.
Second, the amount of 'cash' they give you is pretty much a joke. As a family of 4, we qualified for $364 a month. (The real value in Cash Assistance is in the UpFront Diversion and the Support Services- which we'll talk about in a minute.)
Now, if you're working AT ALL, you don't qualify for Cash Assistance, so in all honesty, PREPARE. Do whatever you have to do to make sure that you can cover 3 months worth of 'bills' before you even apply for Cash Assistance. If you have just found yourself without a job and don't have 3 months 'savings,' find a job off the books, clean people's houses, write articles for websites (yes, website owners pay for this) whatever you can do to keep those bills paid that you won't have to report on a W-2.
If it looks like you might be out of a job, sock that money away now, because you are going to need it later. In our case, we knew my husband was going to have to quit his job for us to get cash assistance just for the daycare referral so we could both get jobs. So we made arrangements to stay with a friend until that all came to fruition. He gave his notice, we waited it out, we made our application for assistance. We got the daycare referral. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here, so let me just jump back a bit, to the year 2007.
In November of 2007, I found myself, pregnant, and with my 22 month old son, homeless. I had just learned how to make money online as a writer. It was actually stupidly easy once I figured out where the market was, but, I hadn't made enough to catch up on months of bills I was behind on, the boys' father deserted us, and here we were, no electricity, no money, no job, no daycare for a job and no money for daycare... yea, this was fun.
I applied for state assistance, and I was turned down because I owned 3 houses that were in foreclosure. I couldn't sell or even rent them in the conditions they were in. It was November, the economy had just fallen apart and people were scared. I was one of them. Especially without food stamps, or a job. And who would hire a pregnant woman anyway, even if I had daycare!
Now, if only I had known then... Cash Assistance offers 'Up Front Diversion." If you get a job, before cash opens, they will give you up to $1,000 for bills you can document, and since it was contingent on cash 'not' opening, you didn't even have to qualify. You merely had to prove you applied. Only at that point, I was ignorant because I didn't know I was supposed to go to Career Central yet. I had been waiting on DCF to approve me, and tell me what to do next, but you don't have to wait for approval to go to Career Central to 'work register' which is where they tell you about up front diversion.
Now, had I gone there, I could have gotten that money, plus my 2006 tax returns which would have been around $1,500. That would have given my $2,500 to work with. Plus, I would have gotten a 2 year referral for daycare. I could have rented a weekly motel and had enough money to last 2-3 weeks for a paycheck (I would have done telemarketing and wrote at night for extra money) and probably recovered fairly quickly. But it wasn't until I LOST those houses, and did get food stamps and Medicaid, that I was finally told to go to Career Central to 'work register' for the 'cash assistance' (in 2008) and I learned about 'up front diversion.' Luckily back then, they gave you a 2 year referral for daycare, but you couldn't apply for cash assistance again for 90 days.
Of course, at the $303 (then with a family of 3) a month, it wasn't worth going back on in 90 days anyway. If you work, you lose it completely, and with only $303 a month, you can't afford to not work. But...
First of all, as of Nov 2010, the new rules are that if you take up front diversion you get NO OTHER SUPPORT SERVICES for those 90 days. Not even daycare. Now this isn't an issue if you can find a work at home job, which you can and we'll talk about that too, later. But as I said earlier, the real benefit to Cash Assistance is the support services.
These services are gas cards, money for school, books and tuition, uniforms. They also have alotments to help you if you're short on rent money, a utility bill, car insurance, etc. You have to ask for it and do a little extra paperwork, but it's worth it, and, then, if you stay on it for a certain amount of time, you get a little exit bonus when you get off it too.
Now here's a really beautiful thing too... as a single mother, you'll qualify for grant money for school, and as long as you don't have a student loan in default, you can't be denied one. Doesn't matter what your credit score looks like either!
Even more beautiful though is this... books and tuition never amount to as much as you get in grants and loans, and the difference is paid back to you in a 'disbursement.' BUT... Cash Assistance will also give you money for tuition and books, so that's even more of your student loan money and grant money coming back to your pocket!
So you can get the upfront diversion, (and provided you have resources for the following 90 days it's a grand in cash in a week or two.) $1,000
You have a tax return $1,500
You have money from school $5,000 minimum probably
That's $7,500 right there.
On a personal side, in 2010, I remarried a wonderful man and we both had jobs, but I worked from home and he worked 2 hours away. We moved closer to his job only to discover that the house we rented was in foreclosure. We are still trying to fight that, but we wound up losing a lot of money on that house, and my work dried up over the summer.
In September we went to stay with a friend who was 2.5 hours from hubby's job, and the commute was too much. On both him and the car. We also knew that we both needed full time jobs to recover and that that would require daycare. So he gave his notice, we applied for state assistance again, for the daycare referral, and this time, we're getting everything we can out of it.
I'm sending hubby back to school too, so there's another $5,000 minimum in our pockets.
My tax returns will be higher because I have 2 kids, and I also still have on from 2008 that will be about $3,000, so all told, hubby and I are looking at around $15,000 to start our lives over
If you're smart, you'll invest about $200 of that money into setting up a corporation and making yourself an 'employee' of it. Now you have a job, and you can work for it for the minimum hours you need to keep Career Central happy (35 hours a week, and school hours count, but not as income, so you get to keep food stamps and Medicaid.
There are also legit work at home opportunities out there that require you to have a corporation, and I'll post more about those soon. For now, it's 4:45 am, and I've been up since 2am. I have to catch 2 more hours of shut eye before I begin my long day of working mommyhood.