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Parenting resources, including tax breaks, for single dads

Dad with daughter son fathers day gift

Being a parent is tough when there are two adults to share the responsibilities. Child rearing sometimes is darn nigh impossible when there's just a single parent in charge.

Most single-parent families are headed by mothers. But there's a substantial number of dads facing these challenges, too.

U.S. Census Bureau data show that of the 35 million fathers of minor children, 1.7 million, or roughly 2 percent, are single fathers living with at least one child younger than 18.

On Father's Day 2021, we salute all you nearly 2 million dads who are doing your best to take care on your own of your youngsters. Y'all also earn this week's By the Numbers honors.

Dads data_US Census Bureau

But in addition to recognition here on the ol' blog, here are some ways you can get help, including on your taxes. The bold-type program titles leading each paragraph below are more than just previews. They also are links to those resources. (Regular links also appear in some of the descriptions.)

The Single Parents Alliance of America (SPAOA): This organization aims to connect single parents and their growing families in a more social way to facilitate finding opportunities and information. No, it's not a dating site. It's a way for you to share solo parenting tips and/or find an empathetic ear for your tales of tribulation. Among the shared information by SPAOA participants is how to increase household incomes, receive access to programs for their children and themselves, and other programs that are exclusive to members. SPAOA is open to all single parents, regardless of gender. 

The FatherSource and Father Factor Blog: This email program from the National Fatherhood Initiative delivers advice and tips to your inbox. The mailings include fatherhood tips and tools; product spotlights and offers; fatherhood news and commentary, including stories from other fatherhood leaders; free resources; and technical assistance and training to help you lead other dads.

Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP): Many parents struggle with the costs and choices with child care. Most states offer CCAP, which helps eligible families with children younger than 13 pay for child care. In cases in which health or other disabilities exist, older children may also be eligible for the program. CCAP generally pays for part of the daycare costs, while parents co-pay for a portion based on the size of the family and the amount of their income. Each state sets its own eligibility guidelines.

National School Lunch Program: This school meals assistance offering, which is one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) food security programs, provides and reduced-cost meals to children. They hand out applications to every child at the beginning of the school year, but parents can apply at any time.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): This program, again via the USDA, helps ensure that low-income children get nutritious meals when school is not in session. Over summer, the USDA serves more than 200 million meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP delivers what were once called food stamps via a debit card system. It's funded by the USDA, but administered by each state. Participants get a SNAP card to use at grocery stores that accept the benefit.

Emergency Food Assistance Program: Low-income single parents, families, and individuals can receive food assistance through the Emergency Food Assistance Program. To be eligible, a family’s income cannot exceed the USDA's federal guidelines. This can be a great resource for emergency help for single moms and dads.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Administered by the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), TANF provides states and territories with flexibility in operating programs designed to help low-income families with children achieve economic self-sufficiency. States can fund monthly cash assistance payments to low-income families with children, as well as a wide range of services. To be eligible, recipients must show that they're actively taking specific actions outlined in the application form. An interactive online map can help you find TANF resources in your state.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The LIHEAP program, also under the HHS auspices, provides energy grants and help to single parents and others who qualify under its eligibility criteria. The federally funded assistance can help families manage costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and energy-related minor home repairs.

Child-related federal tax breaks: In addition to the direct federal support programs listed earlier, Uncle Sam offers parents a variety of child related tax breaks. The most popular is the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which is highlighted this Father's Day in the ol' blog's June Tax Tips. The CTC also has been expanded for the 2021 tax year to help families hard hit economically during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find more about that enhancement in the latest featured tax tip, Father's Day child tax credit tip, along with other tax breaks for all parents.

In addition to the CCAP child care cost help discussed earlier in this post, the tax code also offers the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. This tax break can help you recoup some out-of-pocket child care costs, including summer day camp expenses. Even better, it also was boosted as part of coronavirus relief legislation that makes the child care tax credit an even better tax break on 2021 returns.

All you dads, single or with a partner sharing your child raising responsibilities, can check out the resources here that fit your needs next week.

Today, just enjoy your kiddos and have a very happy Father's Day.

 

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