If you find yourself feeling unprepared or even just less prepared than you would like to be when it comes to taking on the challenges of parenthood, it’s okay - it happens to us all.
Use any of these resources that apply to your situation to help prepare yourself to be the independent, thriving parent you want to be for your child. They are in place to help you achieve your full potential.
Here is a list of resources that can help you better prepare yourself for the needs, wants, and demands of your child and parenthood until you feel prepared enough to go it alone.
Help with Rent:
1. Rental Assistance
If you need help with having an affordable, stable home that you can maintain comfortably, then you can apply for housing assistance.
You can apply for assistance in the form of Section 8 (also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program) which will help you obtain an affordable, private rental property. A portion of the rent is your responsibility based on your income and the other portion will be paid for you by the agency.
Or, you can apply for assistance in the form of Public Housing where you live in a community housing development, and your rent is based on your income.
To apply for either Section 8 or Public Housing you must contact your local public housing agency.
Help with Food:
2. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP benefits are also known as food stamps. The objective of SNAP is to help stretch your food budget and provide nutritional foods. You can typically buy any kind of foods you want as long as they are not already prepared, so no hot rotisserie chickens or any other foods that have been cooked by the grocery store.
To be approved, it is necessary to meet the requirements. Apply for the benefits and your local county assistance office will respond with either an approval or denial of your application and provide you with an explanation if you happen to be denied. You can also appeal this decision if you find it necessary.
To apply ONLINE you can follow the links below:
3. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC is another supplemental nutrition program for “low-income” women, infants, and children. The income doesn’t actually have to be that low. You can have a standard bachelor’s degree salary and still qualify for WIC - I know this for a fact. They will take into consideration your household size plus your pregnancy (if you’re pregnant when you initially reach out for their assistance) and make a decision.
The WIC program is far more specific than SNAP. They will provide you with a list of foods you’re eligible to receive and a booklet that specifies exactly what types of foods you are permitted to purchase with your WIC benefits.
To use the benefits, they will provide you with a chip card for completing your transactions. They will explain how to use their chip card to access your benefits.
Benefits will be provided to you while you are pregnant and continue while you are breastfeeding (if you choose to do so).
Once your child is born, benefits will also be provided for the child up until they are age 5 if you remain financially eligible for that entire duration.
4. Food Bank
The Feeding America nationwide network provides food through local food banks (also known as food pantries). The food is provided free to you and your family to help ensure no one goes hungry.
5. Community Action Partnership
Community Action works to provide a variety of free resources to families to help them become thriving, independent, self-sufficient individuals.
Some of the resources they provide are free tax assistance, free budgeting classes and computer classes, assistance applying for and pursuing higher education, a car loan program, a price matching program for saving up to buy a home, and more depending on your particular local agency.
6. Dial 211
Dialing 211 will connect you with someone who can provide you information about different resources you may need. They can provide you with details or specific contact information for someone who can help you with your situation.
They can help you make connections with agencies for assistance with pregnancy and parenthood (in my area we have an organization called Genesis that provides parenting classes about raising newborns and young children and help to obtain a crib, car seat, high chair, clothes, and beyond).
They can also connect you with the right contact for help with utilities, employment opportunities, education opportunities, healthcare information, emergency information, disaster relief, and more.
You can dial 211 or visit the website for specific details, receive information by text, or obtain a toll-free phone number (if you desire, since you can always just dial 211 - no matter your location, it will connect you to your local organization).
Help with Phone and Internet:
7. Free Government Phone
Each state has a variety of free lifeline cell phone programs available to individuals who meet any of the situations on the list of eligibility criteria.
Nowadays, most of the phones are touch screen smartphones with a specified number of data, minutes, and texts that are reloaded every month. The data is typically in the realm of 3 GB, minutes are generally around 1000 and texts are about 500, but vary depending on the provider you choose.
Your only responsibility is to use it at least once per month to keep it active and update your information when you are prompted to recertify (this usually occurs about once per year).
You can scroll past the first two paragraphs of the link provided below to select your state and be taken to a list of free cell phone service providers in your area.
8. Internet Essentials from Comcast
If you are not already an Xfinity customer and you need affordable internet service, Comcast provides affordable internet service to qualifying individuals for $9.95/month.
You can obtain the service with NO contract, NO credit check, and NO installation fee.
Once you have established the internet with this program they will also assist you with purchasing an affordable computer.
9. Low-cost Computer through Internet Essentials
If you are eligible for Internet Essentials and become a customer, you have the option to place an order to purchase an internet-ready laptop or desktop computer that comes with Microsoft Office, Norton Security Suite and a 90-Day warranty for $149.99.
Help with Medical Care:
10. Medical Assistance
As an expectant mother, one of your top priorities will need to be making sure you have active medical care to provide for all of your prenatal and postnatal needs.
If you don’t already have comprehensive health care, you can apply for medical assistance in the form of Medicaid (which will cover ALL of your medical expenses including prenatal care, dental, vision, primary care, and more).
Apply (if you don’t have insurance through your employer already) even if you think you make too much money to get approved. It is quite likely that your pregnancy alone will make you qualified due to the care you will need during your pregnancy.
Help Learning Parenting:
11. Local Hospitals
Contact the local hospital that will be tending to your labor and delivery (not all hospitals deliver babies). Your local hospital that provides a maternity ward will also provide free classes that teach you baby care essentials, labor and delivery classes, breastfeeding classes, and more depending on your hospital’s program.
Use the link below to choose your state, and then your city for a comprehensive list of hospitals in your area.
12. Pampers Online Childbirth Classes
Pampers provides a free 9-part class series to watch at your own pace explaining changes that begin with pregnancy through postpartum care.
13. Alison - Online Parenting Classes
Sign up to gain access to advanced parenting skills modules where you can view free class video slides (with instructor commentary) at your own pace.
These modules will help you develop a strong and healthy mentor-type relationship with your child and reduce your instances of “trial-and-error” parenting.
Help with Holidays (and more):
14. Salvation Army
Sign up with your local Salvation Army before Christmas arrives and they will provide you with free, brand new toys and outfits to include in your child’s Christmas gifts as well as an entire Christmas dinner for you to take home and prepare.
Unrelated to Christmas - they also have periodic clothing drives where you can come and pick out free clothing items for your children. They also offer several other programs to assist individuals in need.
15. Toys for Tots
Get free toys for your child’s Christmas through your local Toys for Tots program. Toys for Tots begins collecting donations of free, unwrapped toys in October until mid-late December. The toys will be distributed in mid-late December as well. You may need to gain access to them through welfare agencies, local church groups, or other community agencies.
If you go to their site directly, you can apply for their assistance.
Free Children’s Books:
16. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Fill out the application that corresponds to your location and send it to the specified affiliate party. They will then process your application and your little one can receive a free monthly book every month from infancy until age 5.
Off-Campus Education Opportunities:
17. U.S. Career Institute
The U.S. Career Institute provides the ability to obtain a certificate or degree online at your own pace and at a fraction of the cost of going to trade school or college.
The course materials can either be accessed online or physical books and study materials can be mailed to you. You can then study and take assessments at your own pace.
When I looked into it, before ultimately deciding to finish my Chemistry degree on-campus (it just made more sense because I had previously accumulated so many credits already), it would have cost me about $1800 for a certificate in medical billing and coding.
Monthly payments were about $70 and they also provided a program to help you obtain employment. Trade school in my area charges about $30,000 for medical billing and coding education.
18. Independence University
This university is a great option for parents or the older than the typical adult-learner, not just because the courses for master’s, bachelor’s, or associate’s degrees are 100% online, but because they will provide you with a new tablet and computer. BUT you must graduate from your program to keep the devices.
They also provide tutoring and career services free of charge.
Help with Daycare:
19. Child Care Assistance (subsidized payments)
In case you didn’t know, daycare is crazy-expensive. On average, it can cost close to $1000 per month just for one child.
You can apply for subsidized child care payments through your local county assistance office or click the link for your state in the chart below to print a paper application or be taken to your state’s online application portal.
Subsidized Childcare Applications by state:
Help Finding Legitimate Work From Home Opportunities:
Flexjobs is a membership site that supplies a database of already verified, legitimate work from home jobs. It’s basically like except for it provides legit work from home jobs.
You’ll find multiple different types of jobs that can be filtered based on your specifications. The site includes some lower-end paying jobs, but also a wide variety of professional, career-oriented positions such as Project Managers, Business Analysts, Loan Officers, Front-end Engineers, and many more. Many of the career-oriented positions do require previous experience.
You can view some of the details about job availability without a membership, but for full access to read the entire job description, apply, create your profile, and utilize the additional resources they provide, you must have a paid membership.
The best value is $50 for an entire year of access. Or if you’d prefer to just get your feet wet and have a little look around the site to decide how you feel about it, then you can pay $15 for one month of access. There are still more options besides just these two.
21. Workers On Board
Workersonboard is a free online resource that provides legitimate options for work from home as well. There is no monthly or yearly membership fee.
The positions you’ll find on provide more options for jobs or independent contractor work whereas FlexJobs has more career-oriented options.
There is still a plethora of work options to discover on the site, free of charge, and free of risk as they have already been screened for legitimacy.
The site provides a variety of subcategories under “Work at Home Jobs” and “Remote” such as Accounting, Appointment Setters, Customer Service, Data Entry, Editing, Virtual Assistant, and more.
Now, put these resources to good use if you need them, and let’s become prepared parents!