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Public Assistance for Young Parents: Friend or Enemy?

By the time I got to college, I didn’t have child support or help from my parents. I realized I needed additional support so I applied for public assistance for young parents. I needed support like food stamps now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To my surprise my application was denied because I had a car. I was disappointed and felt it was unfair. But then I also understood I had to rely on myself and find a way to make it work. For my sake and the sake of my young son.

My response to being denied support was to work hard. I also learned a few other things about living on a tight budget and making ends meet. If you’ve found yourself in need of public assistance for young parents, here are a few things you can do to stretch a dollar and ensure you don’t become reliant on that support for an extended period:

  • Create a budget and take care of the necessities like food.
  •  Stick to the budget you have created
  •  Spend your money wisely. For a time, forget about extras like doing your hair and nails
  •  Focus on your education as a key to future self-sufficiency

Public assistance for young parents is designed to be temporary to give young parents a leg up as they work towards achieving self-sufficiency. However, many have taken this public assistance whether in the form of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (also known as WIC) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and made it a lifestyle. They are wholly dependent on the support programs and okay with it.

Is there another way?

When you’re on public assistance, it’s easy to feel like things will never get better. You can easily start to believe that’s the only life you can expect to live. But I can tell you from my own experience, there is another way. You can use the public assistance support programs as a stepping-stone to get ahead. Make no mistake – you will have to put in the work. My tips for attaining self-sufficiency are:

  • Consider the decisions you’re making every day. Do any of your decisions instantly make you reliant on public assistance?
  • Make your education a priority. Not only to increase your employability, but also for your self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence
  • Dream big and never settle for less than you deserve. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have much right now, your dreams are the gateway to the future you wish to see.
  • Seize opportunities which come your way. If none are coming your way, see them and create them.

You can do so much more and be so much more. The question for a young parent on public assistance today, what steps are you taking in your life to use the support to be able to provide for yourself in the future?



I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.