Emancipation is a major decision that can help a mature teenager live a more independent life if they are getting little help from their parents. But emancipation can also cause hard feelings within a family. It is sometimes possible for a teenager to get the needed relief and help without taking this step.
- If you need some relief from family problems, you might be able to stay with a friend or in a youth shelter for a while. Most youth shelters will need your parents’ permission to let you stay overnight. You may want to talk to a trusted counselor or teacher.
- If your parents made you leave home and they won’t let you come back or it would be dangerous for you to go back, you may be able to get financial help even if you are not emancipated. What you apply for depends on your situation:
If you are pregnant or have your child living with you and you live with a relative, you can apply for Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) from the Department of Social Services (DSS). Your relative will have to receive the check for you. Also, you will be sent to a DSS social worker for further help. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) may be asked to help as well.
If you are not pregnant, you don’t have a child living with you, and you are living with a relative, you may also be eligible for TFA. Again, your relative must receive the check for you.
If you are pregnant or have your child living with you and you live with an adult who is not a relative, you will qualify for TFA assistance only if that adult is your legal guardian or they are applying for legal guardianship. You may also be eligible if you live in a supervised living arrangement such as a group home. Only in very rare cases can a pregnant or parenting teen live on her own and get a TFA check.
An unemancipated minor who doesn’t live with a relative or other adult legal guardian is probably not eligible for any cash assistance. For example, if you are staying with your friend’s family for a while but they don’t want to be your legal guardian, you probably won’t qualify for cash assistance.
If you are emancipated, you may qualify for State Administered General Assistance (SAGA). A SAGA payment is only $200 per month. Any other income you have will reduce this amount, dollar for dollar, except that the first $150 you earn each month will not count in determining your SAGA award. You can apply for SAGA at your local DSS office.
NOTE: Many teenagers in these situations are eligible for HUSKY medical insurance and food stamps, even if they do not qualify for cash assistance.