Back to the Basics – Finding Assistance in Indiana

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By Heather Miller, LCSW – May 3, 2024 –

Food. Fuel. Utilities. Clothing. Medical bills. Vehicle maintenance. The cost of everything has increased substantially, leaving many Hoosiers wondering how to stay afloat.

The struggle to meet basic needs is overwhelming for many. According to the Department of Agriculture, almost 7 million families noted missing meals during 2022 due to need. Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of lower-income families reported not having the funds for food or rent/mortgage payments.  According to US News, nearly 40 percent of Americans struggle to provide necessities, with 23 percent experiencing food insecurity in the last year.

The impact goes beyond the need for additional funds. Struggling to meet basic needs is likely to increase familial stress. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy notes that financial distress can lead to academic, behavioral, and mental health concerns. Anxiety and depression may surface or increase when a person is experiencing financial distress.

There are resources to help. By utilizing such resources, families and children are more likely to be productive at work and school and experience decreased stress and greater happiness.

Being aware of options for help is important with so many persons in need; yet many individuals may not know how to find help. Researching individual resources can be time consuming. Indiana offers databases to help families looking for assistance.

One of these databases is located at the website https://www.in.gov/dwd/job-seekers/other-assistance-programs/.  Information about childcare assistance; the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program; and energy assistance are just a few of the links available from this database.

Other resources are available by dialing 2-1-1. Data shows that 2-1-1 provided over 18 million resources in 2022. Dialing 2-1-1 offers access to a navigator that will help connect individuals with resources. Resources may also be explored at https://in211.communityos.org/advanced-search.  After selecting the resource desired and entering a zip code, agencies and programs dedicated to that need appear. Most have information about how to access the resource as well as when it is available.

Many assistance programs depend on volunteers and donations to continue to provide for those in need. If meeting basic needs is not a concern for your family, consider helping others in need by organizing a clothing drive, raising funds, or donating time as a family.

According to Feeding America, adolescents who volunteer report better grades, better self-esteem, and even reduced substance use. Setting an example of volunteering as a family will help instill the importance of helping others in younger generations. This is beneficial to society as a whole.

Youth First Mental Health Professionals can also assist families with accessing resources. Please reach out to your school’s Youth First Mental Health Professional for more information.  If you are unsure if your school is served by Youth First or need contact information, please visit this website: https://youthfirstinc.org/findsocialworker/