Child support can be a controversial topic, because many people who are ordered by the Court to pay it do not feel they should have to or that they can afford to. There are many different routes you can take if your children’s other parent does not pay child support, but unfortunately, most of these take time. If you are struggling to support your children during this process, there are resources available to lighten your burden.
FIRST AND FOREMOST…
Any time you wish to check the status of your child support, you can call Tennessee Child Support Enforcement Services (so long as TCSES has a IV-D application on file for you). They will ask for your case number, which you would have been assigned at the time you applied for child support (if you’re still early in the process and have not yet applied, you can find the application here). Also, if you just have a general question about child support or how it works, DHS has a list of frequently asked questions and answers here.
YOU MAY ALSO BE ABLE TO APPLY FOR CHILDCARE ASSISTANCE.
If your child is between six months and five years old, you can enroll in Smart Steps Child Care Payment Assistance. The Smart Steps program application can be found here. (You will need to create a DHS account.) In order to qualify, you must:
- Work at least 30 hours per week OR
- Be a full time college student OR
- Participate in some combination of work and school AND
- Fall below the maximum income threshold based on household size AND
- Send your children to a certified childcare facility that accepts payment assistance. Most public childcare facilities do.
You can find information on which childcare facilities meet the requirements to accept this assistance, as well as specific household income requirements.
MOTHERS SHOULD ENROLL IN WIC.
In most Tennessee counties, WIC provides a debit card for food assistance. Click here to complete a quick pre-screening to see if you might be eligible. Again, only households containing children up to 4 years old are eligible. Income restrictions also apply. WIC benefits are not exclusive to single mothers. Any mom can apply for and potentially receive WIC assistance so long as they meet the qualifications.
APPLY FOR SNAP BENEFITS.
Commonly known as food stamps, this is a more inclusive supplemental nutrition assistance program. Find details on eligibility here. Also, here is a link to the online SNAP application. A caseworker will conduct a phone interview with you as part of the application process. During the interview, a case worker will confirm your income, household size, and other details.
For all of these programs, the amount of assistance you receive depends on your individual financial situation. You may still receive assistance even after child support is ordered. However, your case worker will need to know when you start receiving it. Then, your benefits will be adjusted accordingly.
From the date child support is ordered, it could take three months or longer to start receiving it, even in the best of cases. Luckily, Held Law Firm recognizes the stress that comes when you don’t get the child support that you are due. That’s why we strive to connect you to every available resource. It’s also why we fight so hard for our clients. We can help you get the process started. Call us today at (865) 685-4780.
The information in this blog was compiled and written by Faith Held.