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Help me find financial assistance for my niece & her baby


alisoncooks
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**PLEASE DON'T QUOTE**

 

DH & I are at a loss on how to help his nieces. They live together and are in their early 30s. One works part-time, is pregnant and has a 2 yr old. Other is trying to get disability for a back injury that's left her unable to work; she keeps the baby when her sister is at work. Baby daddy was abusive and no longer around.

 

Here's the current situation:

Way behind on rent

Behind on utilities and about to be turned off

Unable to consistently buy food/diapers

Resorting to illegal activites to have food/baby wipes (shoplifting)

 

DH & I are helping them with the utilities today (they called us last night), so they can keep power/water. But we don't have the ability to do much more than that. They are one step from homeless or one slip up from jail/losing the toddler.

 

Please help me out. Im trying to find what services are available (this is in Virginia). I'm in NC and struggling to find info/referral for them. Charities, govt programs, etc...what legit organizations should I look into?

 

(Nieces have made terrible life choices, neither has a high school diploma..my current concern is basic needs being met for the child.)

Edited by alisoncooks
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To find resources quickly, find a church in their city, call them, explain that you live out of state and need to help someone there access services like WIC (the pregnant niece will get that, maybe the two year old, too, IDR), SNAP and Medicaid (pregnant niece should get that, niece with back injury may get it too if she doesn't work). WIC and SNAP are food programs. 

 

Ask the church who you can call, they will know.  Also ask them about food banks and clothes closets in the area and, just in case, the name & address of a homeless shelter that will take women and children. Ask them about a crisis pregnancy center that might be able to help with diapers and wipes.  

 

Call their power company and ask them if they have any programs for indigent customers, do the same with water. 

 

 

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http://www.dcdiaperbank.org/programs/

 

I have heard about the DC Diaperbank recently on NPR.  It is a "gateway" social services center.  You can come in to get help with diapers and they help you find other assistance that you need.  It sounds like a great program for your niece.  Is she near DC?  

 

WIC is another social service that can help her find other assistance.

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Calling 211 is suppose to help connect people with the available local resources. They should be able to get food stamps and some areas have heating assistance. Some areas might have local Facebook groups to help for things like diapers.

Here's the link. Having a family member in a similar position, I would be careful about sending cash. Purchasing groceries and directly paying utilities is sometimes a better solution.

http://www.dss.virginia.gov

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WIC can provide checks for food for the two year old and the pregnant mom.  They should find the phone number in the phonebook and call and make an appointment.  The WIC staff can tell them what to bring over the phone.  The mother needs photo ID, proof of address (a utility bill), proof of income (pay stub), the toddler's birth certificate, and she must bring the toddler.  I can't remember if there is anything else she'll need.  The mother will get a form for the providers of her prenatal care to fill out so she can get on the program too.  WIC will provide checks for food.  It won't be enough to meet all their needs, but it will be a help.  Once the baby is born WIC can provide formula, or if the mother breastfeeds exclusively, WIC will provide the mother with extra food.

 

They need to find out the contact information for homeless shelters, just in case.

 

 

 

 

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This is really helpful, thank you.

Does anyone local to the area know of any food banks or church-run food pantries in that area? Perhaps DSS has that sort of info available.

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Pregnant women will get WIC. As they are incapable of taking care of their children, are there any nearby family members willing to step in to help and take custody of the babies? This sounds like it's well beyond a sudden emergent situation.

That seems harsh. It sounds like they need financial assistance, but I didn't see anything that would indicate the kids need to be removed. Better to support the mom and aunt to care for them than to remove them.

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Can you buy diapers/wipes/food on Amazon Prime and have it shipped to them for their immediate needs, while you hunt down other/longer term services from afar.

I thought about this. I was a bit worried any big package would be stolen -- their neighborhood is not somewhere where I'd choose to live. Definitely worth looking into, though.

 

 

 

I don't think their current situation warrants losing the child. Yet. That said, they are at a point where they must get their crap together....if for no other reason than DH & I won't bail them out over and over. We laid out some tough love requirements before agreeing to help them this time.

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That seems harsh. It sounds like they need financial assistance, but I didn't see anything that would indicate the kids need to be removed. Better to support the mom and aunt to care for them than to remove them.

 

The moms are *stealing* instead of trying to get assistance for themselves. How is that harsh? Get the kids somewhere safe while the moms try to get their stuff together. If they do, great. If not, at least the kids are in a stable environment. If you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of a child. Maybe having the stress of the child's wellbeing assured would give the moms more energy to work on their own issues. I didn't say remove the children forcibly from the home, but usually when people have burned all the bridges they had with relatives, they won't be welcome in someone's home but the babies would. One of my good friends from high school became addicted to drugs after an accident. Her parents helped her time and time again. She had a child and then had a relapse. Her parents took in her baby and helped her get to rehab, but that was it. She's now been sober a year and is back in her child's life. What's best for the child may not be what's easy for the mom. 

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We won't send cash -- we're paying the utilities directly (well, putting it on a credit card cause we don't have that sort of extra money).

 

 

This is so nice of you and your heart is in the right place, but I would not do that for more than a couple months.  Find out what you can.  Help empower them to find services.  But it's such a dangerous game to do this for your family if you don't have that extra disposable income to pay for that without a credit card.  If you pay for that, they may have a harder time getting it covered another way or qualifying for housing.   What a horrible situation.  Really, CPS may need to get involved if they are incapable of even trying to find out about programs they may qualify for.  :grouphug:  

 

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We are only paying the past due amount, to keep the utilities on right now. The plan is that the nieces' mom (DH's sister) will make monthly payments to us to help pay off this card. She's also on disability/fixed income and didn't have enough $ to help them out right now.

 

From here on out, they really will have to take advantage of any available services. I know they must qualify for something.

 

To be honest, I struggle to feel sympathetic. Mentally, I'm very much "how do you not have your mess straight -- this is unacceptable!" I'm working on this...:o

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The pregnant mom can and should file for SNAP and plan to spend the day there as she could possible get an emergency food allowance.

 

LIHEAP is sometimes processed faster if there are shut off notices.

 

She can also call the local CPS agency and ask for help. They would know all the resources, and it's sometimes faster.

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The disabled niece may be able to get paid for watching the baby while the other niece works. I'm not sure what the program is called or if it's available in VA. Check with whoever administers child care assistance. See if there is a program to pay relatives who provide childcare. It may only be available if they don't live together though.

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I suggest going to this website and searching for a pregnancy care center close to their home. The listings will show which centers offer material aid (diapers, etc.) and which offer community referrals. If they offer referrals, they'll help get your pregnant niece signed up for any assistance for which she qualifies. I imagine they would be able to point her sister in the right direction for help, too. Many centers offer both material aid and referrals. 

 

Hope this helps.  :grouphug:

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When they apply for SNAP, they should apply together because they probably share food.

 

I can't think of any resources that haven't already been mentioned, except that the disabled niece may need professional help dealing with the SSA. Back injuries are one of those things that are not exactly a disability shoo-in.

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When they apply for SNAP, they should apply together because they probably share food.

 

I can't think of any resources that haven't already been mentioned, except that the disabled niece may need professional help dealing with the SSA. Back injuries are one of those things that are not exactly a disability shoo-in.

Especially if it's exacerbated by the pregnancy. Being pregnant makes it harder for some women to get medical treatment for back injuries. Fewer diagnostic and treatment options, and some doctors blow it off as a pregnancy symptom. A doctor has to sign off on the disability's likely duration exceeding a certain period of time for SSDI. Attorneys who specialize in SSDI typically work on a contingent fee basis, so it wouldn't cost her anything to get a consult. If she's physically able to do the work required to provide child care though, she may not qualify for SSDI. You need a really serious back injury. An attorney would be able to help navigate the process and the good ones who specialize in this area know how to maximize access to vocational rehab programs, etc. If you know any attorneys in their area, call and ask for a referral. You want someone who does this for a good chunk of their practice, not just someone who dabbles. If you don't know any attorneys, the VA State Bar should have a referral service.

 

(But don't count on SSDI being an avenue of support for her and her child or means to repay you...)

Edited by zoobie
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What about Safe Families for Children? It isn't financial assistance, but the idea is for a helping family/church to offer assistance to a family so that the children's parent(s) can get things taken care of and be able to handle their kids so that it doesn't spiral out of control. Not sure if your niece needs that level of help, but it might be something to look into?

 

I do think they do things like help provide diapers.

Emily

 

 

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The disabled niece may be able to get paid for watching the baby while the other niece works. I'm not sure what the program is called or if it's available in VA. Check with whoever administers child care assistance. See if there is a program to pay relatives who provide childcare. It may only be available if they don't live together though.

I'm trying to figure out how someone who is disabled with a back problem to the point of not being able to work could care for one, and soon to be two, young children by herself. I'm sure lots of disabled people care for children with help, but alone it is a very physical job to care for babies and toddlers. Short of hard physical labor, it seems almost any job would be physically easier.
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http://ghrdiaperbank.org/need-help.html. - Here's a link to the Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank. That is a map of locations where your nieces can get help with diapers and other needs.

 

http://ghrdiaperbank.org/partners.html- a list of charitable organizations that work with the diaper bank to help families in need get services.

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I'm trying to figure out how someone who is disabled with a back problem to the point of not being able to work could care for one, and soon to be two, young children by herself. I'm sure lots of disabled people care for children with help, but alone it is a very physical job to care for babies and toddlers. Short of hard physical labor, it seems almost any job would be physically easier.

Yes, well...I do have opinions on all that. :rolleyes:

Apparently, she does have some sort of birth defect that was exacerbated by a recent (a year or so ago) physical injury. I don't know exactly, though I will say the level of child care is adequate but by no means exceptional (tv watching, playing, feeding/diaper changing....but we're not talking playgrounds/finger painting/tumbling tots). Then again, not too different than what is typical in their community/demographic.

 

 

That diaper bank link looks promising!

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The resourcefulness of the people on this forum is amazing!

I agree! When I initially did a quick web search, I wasn't thrilled with the results. Then I figured I'd ask the Hive...and wow! So much good info all in one place.

 

I do appreciate everyone taking the time to post links and share info. :)

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I thought about this. I was a bit worried any big package would be stolen -- their neighborhood is not somewhere where I'd choose to live. Definitely worth looking into, though.

 

 

 

I don't think their current situation warrants losing the child. Yet. That said, they are at a point where they must get their crap together....if for no other reason than DH & I won't bail them out over and over. We laid out some tough love requirements before agreeing to help them this time.

IME, they may not be able to comprehend that you and your dh will not be able to bail them out forever. That may very well be their back up plan. You may have carefully explained to them the whole situation, but people who struggle with impulsiveness may not be able to truly understand that you have a hard boundary.

 

I'm not trying to run them down, I just hope that you understand that some people cannot help but keep going after help from any source that gave it to them and they return until the well is dry and never look for another well. It is not impossible that this is the case.

 

You are in my prayers tonight for sure.

 

PS: if I shouldn't have quoted this I will delete it if you need me to.

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I thought about this. I was a bit worried any big package would be stolen -- their neighborhood is not somewhere where I'd choose to live. Definitely worth looking into, though.

 

 

I don't know where your nieces live, but some metro areas have Amazon lockers.

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Instead of buying wipes, perhaps they could be encouraged to use a washcloth and to wash it out. I wouldn't suggest cloth diapers because of the expense of buying them and the expense of doing all the laundry, but perhaps they could save the wipes for the really bad poos and use washcloth for everything else? I have a baby myself, and can afford to buy wipes--and I use them for every diaper change when a washcloth would do just fine. Or even wash baby's bottom in the sink instead of using wipes?

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I'm trying to figure out how someone who is disabled with a back problem to the point of not being able to work could care for one, and soon to be two, young children by herself. I'm sure lots of disabled people care for children with help, but alone it is a very physical job to care for babies and toddlers. Short of hard physical labor, it seems almost any job would be physically easier.

It sounded to me like the sister is already providing child care. In my state there are many, many people on disability who provide child care for nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. My definition of too disabled to work does not always mean the same thing as the state's definition. Child care assistance doesn't pay well but it could get the family a little extra money every month.
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After this immediate crisis is over, they really need some counseling on long term solutions for their problems and goal setting. They need to end the cycle of living from one crisis to the next.

 

Does either of them have any education? Do they have any job skills?

Edited by Jyhwkmama
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