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Resources for Low-Income and Crisis Pregnancy
If you find yourself in an unplanned pregnancy and don't know where to turn for assistance or information about medical care, nutrition, paternity issues, or even a safe place to live during your pregnancy, you're not alone. There are many government programs and nonprofit organizations that offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, shelter, and more. An unplanned pregnancy doesn't have to be a "crisis".
There are many who balk at the idea of receiving government assistance, but it's paid for by your, your family's, and your child's father's tax dollars. If your family or your child's father are unable or unwilling to help, there's a certain poetic justice in the system because they already paid for the programs. If you live with family, you may be required to include their incomes on your application for services, especially if you are under 25. If you are married, your husband's income must be included. If you are a minor, your parents' must meet the eligibility requirements.
If you are in Georgia, you may apply online for SNAP, WIC, and TANF at the Compass website. You must apply in person at your local health department for Medicaid.
Medicaid - Presumptive Medicaid covers the mother during pregnancy and for up to 4 months after the birth. Medicaid will cover the child up to the first birthday. Applications are typically received at your county's health department during certain hours and days of the week. Come early because only a limited amount of applicants can be seen each day on a first come first serve basis. Be prepared for the application and interview process to take up to 3 hours, and bring verification of income including recent pay stubs, tax returns, and bank account statements. There is no cost to apply. If approved, there is no premium, deductible, or copay. You will have to enroll in a health plan. Make sure there is a doctor near you who accepts your health plan before you enroll.
- You must have verification of a positive pregnancy test taken at a medical facility within the past 30 days. You may take a pregnancy test at your local health department for about $20, and you will be refunded upon acceptance into Medicaid.
- Your income must be below the minimum requirements. In Georgia, this is around $24,000 for a family of two (pregnant mother counts as 2).
- You cannot have any other health insurance.
WIC - You may be eligible for WIC if you meet certain income requirements. If you are married or live with family, your spouse and family members' incomes can affect eligibility. You may continue using WIC after the child is born. The WIC program will provide vouchers for cereal, milk, bread, cheese, juice, eggs, formula, and will soon include certain fresh produce items. You may use these vouchers at any grocery store that accepts WIC.
SNAP (food stamps) - This is the new name for the food stamp program in Georgia. If you meet certain income requirements, a family of 2 can receive up to $400 per month on an EBT card for use on groceries. SNAP will pay for almost all food items, but not pet food, paper products, household cleaners, etc.
TANF (temporary assistance for needy families) - If you already have children or if you live with other family members and your household meets certain income requirements, you may be eligible for TANF. Based on 2009 numbers, TANF will pay up to $235 for a family of 2 if your income does not exceed $659. You must be actively seeking employment, and you cannot be eligible for unemployment benefits. If your child's father is known, his income must be reported whether or not he lives with you. If he does not live with you, his child support payments will be used in determining your family's eligibility. There is a 24 month cap for receiving TANF. If you do not actively seek work or are found to be noncompliant in other aspects of the program, they can reduce or permanently terminate assistance to your family.
Other benefits - If you have student loans, especially federal loans, and are eligible for food stamps or TANF, you can request a deferment on your payments. Some federal loan agencies will accept a statement that you are out of work. Others require verification of low-income such as enrollment in these programs.
Through nonprofit organizations, you can receive services such as free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, temporary housing, counseling, and adoption placement if you are interested in learning more about adoption.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers - Crisis pregnancy centers are typically faith-based and almost always give a free pregnancy test. Some also offer ultrasound and counseling services at no cost. In exchange for their free services they usually that you watch a graphic video about abortion and spend some time speaking to one of their counselors. Please be aware that many crisis pregnancy centers are run by or affiliated with adoption agencies and serve as "suppliers" for the long waiting list of would-be adoptive parents. If you are interested in adoption, this is a good opportunity to get information. If you are not interested in adoption, stand your ground and do not let them make you feel bad about your decision and desire to raise your child.
Some crisis pregnancy centers also offer living space to pregnant women or can refer you to a women's shelter. If the center you go to is adoption agency affiliated, please realize that they may have limited or even no beds available for those who do not plan to relinquish their babies.
Even so, this is a good way to get a test in a safe, discreet environment if you cannot afford a pregnancy test or are embarrassed or afraid to buy one for yourself. If you have concerns about it being adoption affiliated, you can call the center before you go and ask what kind of adoption services/counseling/information they offer or have access to.
Women's Shelters - If you do not have a safe place to stay because your family and/or child's father are not supportive or are abusive, many cities offer shelter specifically to women where you will have clean beds, showers, and access to 3 meals a day. Many women's shelters are targeted toward pregnant women or women from the kinds of situations that would prompt them to seek residence in a shelter during pregnancy. Some shelters may be able to help you transition into a career by offering services for job seekers if you are trying to find work and are able to do so during your pregnancy.
Getting Started - If you are unsure of where and what to look for, here are a few reputable organizations that can help.
Sav-a-Life, Macon GA - A non-profit clinic and crisis pregnancy center
Union Mission, Savannah GA - Permanent housing and supportive services (child care, job training, counseling, etc.) for men, women, and families in crisis
Magdelene Project, Savannah GA - A part of Union Mission that provides emergency shelter for women and children
Hope House of Savannah, Savannah GA - A transitional shelter with a self-sufficiency program for single mothers
Wesley Community Center, Savannah GA - Recreational programs, educational programs, child care, and support groups for women in crisis
Must Ministries, Marietta GA - Emergency, temporary, and transitional housing, meals, food pantry, support services for Cobb County residents
Caris Pregnancy Counseling and Resources, Chicago IL - Counseling, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds with centers located in Schaumburg, Oak Park, and Chicago's Northside and Lawndale districts