Parenthood can be extremely rewarding. It can also create a financial burden on parents and families. There are over 74.2 million children in the U.S., and 15 million of them live in poverty. 34% live in a single-parent household Single mothers head the vast majority of these (84%), and nearly half of these receive food stamps and other federal financial assistance to make ends meet.
Many families are struggling, particularly those whose families include members with disabilities or other health issues. Thankfully, programs do exist that provide aid specifically for families, including federal grants and aid programs, private organizations, and even programs designed to provide educational opportunities for those in need.
Education Aid and Assistance
Many organizations have realized the vast importance of funding in closing achievement gaps. To that end, many grant programs and aid programs exist to help provide families gain access to educational opportunities. Many of these, however, do not give financial assistance directly to families. Most operate through an organization, which in turn provide valuable services.
The Head Start Program provides early education opportunities. Designed to aid those under five years old, Head Start is one of the oldest government programs directly serving educational needs. This program serves low-income families, with grant money given to any public, private or faith-based organization that completes an application and qualifies. Head Start provides early childhood educational experiences by working on socialization, motor skills, literacy, concept development and more. This program also aids families by connecting them to valuable health care services and helps parents with goal-setting and educational attainment.
The Children’s Scholarship Fund provides millions in funding each year. This private organization has dedicated itself to paying half the cost of a private school education for needy families. Although primarily based in and serving families in New York City, the organization also partners with other similar organizations across the country, creating a vast network of aid and assistance programs for low-income families. In many cases, the value in providing kids with better educational opportunities through a private school education has been life changing.
The Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program provides educational grant money for students who show exceptional talent or promise in different areas. The program looks specifically for those who are limited by their surroundings or family situation but have a proven record of educational success. The program also focuses on young people who may have artistic talents that a private education could nurture.
Aid for Special Needs Children
Kids with special needs, including learning disabilities, physical ailments, mental ailments, or developmental difficulties, have far more hurdles to jump to find a normal life. Many organizations, both public and private, exist to provide aid to families with a special needs child.
“Wish” organizations exist for children whose disabilities are chronic or life-threatening. It’s hard to think about your child one day leaving you too soon. Many “Wish” organizations exist to help children dealing with chronic, severe or life-threatening issues experience joy in ways they could never have before. Help comes from some well-known, and some less commonly heard of organizations, such as:
Make-A-Wish Foundation, which provides experiences for young people with life-threatening conditions.
Sunshine Foundation, which helps fulfill the dreams of youths who are ill both chronically and seriously, or who have physical challenges or are victims of abuse.
Organizations and government programs exist to help families pay for medical needs. Children with special needs typically require extra resources that can be a strain on families. Many private and public organizations exist to aid families struggling in this area. This includes:
UnitedHealth Care Children’s Foundation provides grants for families that cannot afford some or all of the costs of their special-needs medical items or care.
Fred’s Footsteps provides financial assistance for families during their child’s illness.
Medicaid provides special needs programs for families who require them.
ProjectMEND helps refurbish old equipment for needy families.
Angel Flight provides air travel for families whose special-needs Kids need to travel to get treatment.
Building Blocks for Kids provides assistance to families for a wide range of health-related issues.
Kya’s Krusade seeks to help kids get different types of needed therapies.
Aubrey’s Warrior’s Foundation, a new non-profit dedicated to providing different types of financial assistance for families dealing with an ill child.
Food Aid and Other Grant Programs
There are other public and private options for parents who need assistance, providing help in areas from food assistance to child care.
The YMCA provides financial aid for child care. Child care can be extremely expensive in the U.S. The YMCA offers subsidies to parents based on income and other need measurements.
State-level child care assistance programs exist across the country. Most states provide subsidies and grants to parents who need help affording child care services. Examples include programs in California, Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia.
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program serves women with young children. This program offers food assistance to low-income mothers and their kids.
The National School Lunch Program offered through public schools, provides free or reduced lunches to students from low-income families. Participation rates among low-income families continue to increase, although a large number of families who could qualify fail to do so every year.
The Children’s Defense Fund provides awards for a variety of needs and purposes, including financial awards and assistance for teenagers who have experienced and overcome hardships in life.
Feeding America provides resources for families struggling to provide food. Families can find access to local area food banks, or find access to backpack programs and other food assistance programs.
Private organizations and the federal government recognize the importance of happy, healthy and well-educated young people. Families in need can find a large number of assistance programs and grants to help, but it may take some effort to locate the right sources and take advantage of the help they provide.