Helpful Government Assistance Programs For Single Mothers

    There is a variety of assistance for low-income single mothers out there that can lend a helping hand to the ones who need it most, especially when they are struggling financially. 

    Help Programs For Single Mothers

    The various ways the United States government distributes resources to eligible recipients are called grants. The following are a few grants and help programs for single mothers that can reduce their financial burdens.

    SNAP Food Assistance

    SNAP is a program that aims to help low-income families, single mothers, and individuals who need help when it comes to buying food by providing them with monetary aid. Together with state and federal agencies, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and other partners, the SNAP initiative enables thousands of Americans to receive “food stamps” to ensure that they receive suitable nutrition for a healthy life. 

    The SNAP program has become the only source of income assistance for single mothers and many of the poorest Americans. Children under the age of 18 were the most likely to receive SNAP assistance, which is the nation’s most extensive anti-hunger program.

    It is provided to the recipient as an electronic benefits transfer card (EBT), which single mothers can use at any participating store within the recipient’s region. Fill out an application for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and submit it to a local SNAP office in person, by mail, or by fax.

    The Emergency Allotments (EAs) that are being distributed to everyone receiving SNAP benefits in April 2021 are known as “Emergency Allotments” (EAs). As of May, households in states that offer these benefits will start receiving emergency allotments of $95, at least for May. There is no need to complete any additional paperwork.

    A total of 37 states have signed up to be part of the Emergency Allotment (EA) program by 12 January 2022, which allows their residents to receive extra SNAP benefits. The USDA has approved a boosted food stamp payment for residents in those 37 states, and they will receive it this month.

    WIC Program

    Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a program to supplement nutrition for women, infants, and children. As part of this initiative, the Federal government provides States with grants for nutrition education, referrals to health care, and supplementary foods.

    Aid may be available for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children under five years of age who fall within the low-income bracket. If you want to participate in WIC, you’ll need to contact your nearest agency that offers WIC services, or you can call the Hotline at 1-800-522-5006. You can find further information on single mother assistance on their website.

    During the pregnancy, new mothers and children under five are deemed “at nutritional risk” and can get free healthy foods through WIC, a federally-funded nutrition program. The program is specifically designed for a short-term period. Recipients are usually eligible to receive benefits for a period of six months to one year before they have to reapply.

    The program’s typical monthly payments for fresh fruit and vegetables are $11 for women and $9 for children. The program is eligible for those with nutritional risk and incomes below 185% of the poverty level, but most states prioritize TANF recipients.

    Child Nutrition Programs

    Children are provided with nutritional meals through several USDA programs. They offer a variety of programs such as the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Team Nutrition Program, and the Special Milk Program as examples of their assistance programs for single moms.

    Additionally, the Food and Nutrition Service has several programs to provide food assistance to communities and assist them with discounts on food products, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

    Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)

    Child care is provided to low-income families while they work, seek work, attend school, or train, supported by a state-funded program called Child Care Assistance Program, or CCAP.

    In most states, families receiving child care assistance must contribute toward their child care costs according to a sliding fee scale, with higher-income families making higher payments.

    Generally, you cannot earn more than the amount set by the state where you live to qualify for assistance. State guidelines vary, but you should not earn more than the amount set by your state.

    Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS)

    CCAMPIS, the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program, is the only federal grant program designed to provide low-income parents with child care services. At the same time, they attend post-secondary education on campus.

    The CCAMPIS program is designed to assist lower-income student parents in staying in school and graduating with a college degree, but most students will have to wait to be enrolled. CCAMPIS funding is allocated based on several factors, including eligibility, financial income, need, and family contributions.

    Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

    Families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but unable to afford private coverage can apply for CHIP to obtain coverage for their uninsured children (up to age 19). Nearly 40 million low-income children have Medicaid coverage as well as 9.6 million have CHIP coverage, according to the latest data.

    It covers everything a child needs, including doctor visits, vaccinations, dental work, and vision care. In most cases, it is free of charge for families. A low monthly premium, enrollment fee, and co-pay for some services may be charged to others.

    State-run CHIP programs are known as Medicaid expansions, separate programs, or combinations, like Medicaid. Each state administers CHIP independently.

    Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

    Working parents with low- to moderate-income whose earned income falls below a specific limit – especially those who owe little or no income taxes – can benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit. EITC claims are refundable, meaning they can reduce the total taxes owed, and if the credit amount exceeds the tax liability, they can result in a refund of up to $6,728 for a family with three or more children.

    For families with children, however, the Child Tax Credit can reduce their tax liability by as much as $2,000 per qualifying child, of which $1,400 may be refundable. CTCs will be temporarily increased to $3,600 for children aged 6 to 17 and $3,000 for children less than six years old under the American Rescue Plan for 2021. The CTC will also be fully refundable, and the earnings floor of $2,500 will be lifted.

    TEFAP Grants

    The Emergency Food Assistance Program, a federal assistance program, provides free food assistance to low-income families and individuals. According to the guidelines, you must meet income requirements before applying for assistance under this program. If you would like to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to contact the Food Distribution Division, you can call 703-305-2680.

    Through the TEFAP, low-income Americans can receive food directly from food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters for their consumption and emergency food providers. A participant’s income may be considered for eligibility in existing food, medical, or other assistance programs (SNAP and TANF).

    A family participating in the following means-tested programs will qualify for TEFAP: Food Stamps/SNAP, TANF, WIC, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Head Start, Fuel Assistance, or Veteran’s Aid. To find out more about TEFAP, contact your State Distributing Agency. Note that each state administers the program differently.

    Medicare

    Under certain circumstances, Medicare is available to those under 65, but it is primarily aimed at those 65 and older. The Medicare Eligibility Checker Tool can help determine your eligibility for one or more programs. Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for detailed information on applying for Medicare assistance, or call 800-772-1213.

    HUD Public Housing And Grants For Single Parents

    The HUD Public Housing Assistance Program provides low-cost rental housing to low-income families. All States and territories are served by HUD Public Housing, which has more than 3,300 Local Public Housing Agencies.

    You can find out more about eligibility and application requirements by contacting your local public housing agency or by calling the Service Center at 1-800-955-2232 at no cost. You can also visit the website for more information on the assistance offered to single mothers.

    Aside from Section 8 vouchers and project-based rental assistance, public housing is one of the nation’s three primary housing assistance programs for single mothers. Unlike Section 8, public housing offers low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled the possibility of living in a public housing unit for a reasonable rent, even if they come from low-income families. Rent and utilities are generally not more than 30% of tenants’ incomes.

    Most programs serve families with incomes between 80% and 100% of the local median income, although variations may vary by area. You must submit your public housing application to the local housing authority (HA) of the city or town where you plan to be considered for public housing. If the HA determines you are eligible, it will add your name to the list.

    Medicaid

    Low-income families and those without enough health insurance may qualify for Medicaid, a form of federal medical help for low-income single moms. There are different Medicaid eligibility guidelines in each state, so Medicaid is administered by each state on a state-by-state basis. You can find out whether you are eligible for Medicaid assistance by contacting your local State Medicaid Office if you want to learn more. You can find general information regarding the program on the Medicaid website if you want to learn more.

    When a family does not have medical insurance, Medicaid provides a medical benefits program to enrollees who fall into the low-income or very low-income category based on their financial situation. It is important to note that Medicaid is not the same as Medicare.

    The Medicaid program is designed to help the poor, whereas Medicare is designed to assist the elderly, disabled, and people with disabilities who need medical services.

    The Medicaid program may be a single-parent assistance option you need to consider if you are a single parent who meets specific income criteria to ensure that you receive the needed medical care – regardless of how unemployed you are. Children and their parents are determined to be eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

    Lifeline Program

    The Lifeline program has been around since 1985, and the Reagan Administration initiated it as a way of helping low-income families get connected and access the “lifeline” of emergency services, such as 911. Individuals and families living in low-income areas can access the program and receive a monthly subsidy of $9.25 per household per month, limited to individuals and families living in low-income areas.

    Generally, it is available to people living on less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, though qualification criteria vary from state to state. A provider or state agency in your state may be able to assist you in applying for a Lifeline discount.

    LIHEAP Energy Grants

    Single moms, families, and individuals who struggle to pay their home energy bills can benefit from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for LIHEAP may receive assistance with the cost of heating and cooling their homes. Contact the LIHEAP office in your state or locality for more information on the application requirements.

    Low-income households who cannot afford to pay their utility bills monthly are eligible to receive one-time financial assistance through LIHEAP. Most of the time, LIHEAP will pay only a portion of a family’s monthly utility bill, and the family will pay the balance.

    Those most vulnerable will benefit most from this program: the disabled, the elderly, and families with children between the ages of three and five. The utility companies are paid directly from the grants that are made to them. The recipient shall not be entitled to receive a grant payable to them.

    LIHEAP grants are available only for households with an income not less than 110% of the poverty level and not more than 60% of the state’s median income or 150% of the poverty level. A household income must not exceed either of these income levels to qualify for a LIHEAP grant.

    For more information on how and where to apply for LIHEAP, contact the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) by telephone at 1-866-674-6327 to find where and how to apply for it if you need help paying the bills or are in danger of being without heat.

    Federal Government Pro Bono Program

    Through its Pro Bono Program, the Federal Government provides free legal assistance and mentorship services to low-income single parents, individuals, and families needing assistance.

    Please contact Laura Klein at the Federal Government Pro Bono Program if you are interested in finding out more about the program or if you wish to apply for free legal assistance by sending an email to Laura.F.Klein@usdoj.gov about the program. More information can also be found on its website or by calling the New York office at 212-760-2554.

    Head Start and Early Head Start

    Among help programs for single mothers offered by the US Department of Health and Human Services is the Head Start program, a federally funded program that aims at helping children up to the age of 5 prepare for school. Families with low incomes may be eligible for single mother assistance under this program. It is essential to contact the local program in your area that offers Head Start or Early Head Start if you are interested.

    The Head Start and Early Head Start programs are both federal low-income programs for single mothers that are intended to promote the readiness of children from birth to the age of five to go to school. Children under two are eligible for Early Head Start, and those between 3 and 5 years of age are eligible for Head Start. 

    A family’s income must equal or be below the poverty level to qualify for assistance. Homelessness, being in foster care for a child, or having a child receiving certain types of public assistance are all factors that may affect eligibility as well.

    The Early Head Start program is also available to pregnant women who may be eligible to participate. From providing free medical and dental care to educational opportunities for children to health and nutrition to even the involvement of parents in their children’s lives, the program provides a wide range of services to the community.

    Applicants must apply for a Head Start program or an Early Head Start program in the community where they live closest to head start school. Among the American Indian and Alaska Native children, more than 150 Head Start and Early Head Start programs are available. If you are looking for a Head Start program in your area or want more information about how to apply, use the Head Start locator or call 1-866-763-6481 (toll-free).

    Federal Pell Grant

    Student aid programs for low-income single mothers, such as the Pell Grant, are the biggest in the country. Those in need of financial assistance can receive grants of up to $6,495 for college. It has been reported that nearly 7 million students received Pell grants for schools in 2019 alone, with nearly 60 percent of Black students receiving Pell grants for school and nearly half of Latino students receiving Pell grants for school.

    This need-based grant aims to provide single mothers of limited means with a way to re-enter the employment market by “going back to school.” The best part about it is free money that does not have to be paid back. Applicants for Pell Grants must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid if they wish to be considered for the award. If you would like to receive assistance for the upcoming year, you can submit your application as early as September 1 or as late as June 30 each year.

    Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

    A Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is similar to the Pell Grant in that it is an additional grant for students who have an “extreme financial need” based on the information found on their FAFSA application.

    There is a preference for those with “the absolute highest levels of need” – those with the lowest Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and those who are also eligible for Pell Grants.

    It is possible for students who are eligible to receive supplemental grants to receive anywhere between $100 and $4,000 per year, depending on their needs and the availability of funds.

    Federal Work-Study Program

    It is a government-subsidized financial aid program that provides federally eligible students with a way to earn extra money by taking part-time jobs on or off campus and often in their field of study.

    A student may work as many as twenty (20) hours per week, and as a result, they will receive a monthly paycheck based on their hourly wage, which they might use to pay for educational expenses. There is, however, a limitation to this “earn-while-you-study” option, which will only work for students with minimal living expenses and a supportive family to help them meet their childcare needs.

    Federal Student Aid

    Since interest payments and monthly payments on federal student loans have been suspended until August 31, 2022, due to the ongoing pandemic, subsidized or unsubsidized student loans are often available to single mothers “going back to school.”

    The federal student loan program is the least desirable form of financial aid. Still, it does allow you to borrow money for college at a lower interest rate than most private loans you can find on the market. It is possible to defer the interest payments until after you have graduated from saving money.

    A FAFSA must be completed and submitted to be considered eligible for most federal student aid programs. To be considered for these loans, you need to check the box next to the question about whether you are interested in student loans on the FAFSA form.

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

    The TANF is an essential part of the safety net available to families with very low incomes. It helps them provide short-term financial assistance and job opportunities to become self-sufficient. Its primary aim is to help them reach self-sufficiency.

    TANF grants can be divided into two categories to assist families and children with their economic needs. Grants given to children alone, designed to meet their unique needs, usually have a smaller budget than grants that go to families and usually amount to about $8 a day for one child. You may also be eligible for the second type of TANF grant, known as the “family grant,” which is considered by many to be the most accessible grant to obtain out of all the available TANF grants.

    The program provides a monthly cash subsidy for food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials until 60 months have passed, although some states set shorter deadlines. There is a great deal of variation between states regarding TANF cash benefits. According to the 2020 TANF data, Mississippi provided the most generous benefit of any state at $170 per month for a family of three, while New Hampshire provided the most generous benefit at $1,086 per month.

    Cash grants are sometimes referred to as welfare grants, and it is essential to remember that the conditions under which you can receive them largely depend on where you live. All other things being equal, there is a tendency for states with a higher proportion of African American residents to have more restrictive policies for TANF recipients.

    TANF provides financial assistance to unemployed single mothers who have children under the age of 19 and are experiencing financial hardship. There is, however, an obligation for the recipient to participate in work activities for at least 20 hours per week to receive benefits.

    Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA)

    Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA), also known as Emergency Cash Assistance, provides alternative assistance to single mothers during times of emergency in the form of cash assistance. The payment is typically made as a one-time payment instead of an extension of cash benefits.

    Depending on the severity of the financial crisis, some families may qualify for a one-time grant of up to $1,000, which may be applied to various emergencies.

    National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

    Under the NSLP, eligible students with a family income below specific poverty guidelines receive free lunches or discounted lunches, making it possible for schools to serve nutritious, inexpensive lunches daily. A free meal is available to children from low-income families, giving them an income of less than 130% of the poverty level. Those with an income between 130% and 185% poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals.

    Some children who receive free or reduced-priced school meals qualify for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) under the National School Lunch Program. As a result of the pandemic, schools have been closed, and some children have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals, so P-EBT provides temporary food assistance for them.

    Your child is eligible for the free lunch program if you already receive food stamps. Even though you do not qualify, your child may still be entitled to receive free or reduced-price lunches. You can apply for a school meal at any point during the school year by contacting the school to fill out the school meal application at any time during the school year. It may be necessary for you to provide proof of your income.

    There is no paid leave for new mothers in America. Despite the twelve weeks of job-guaranteed leave available under the Family and Medical Leave Act, it is unpaid and only applies to companies with fewer than 50 employees.

    Nine (9) states in the country, along with the District of Columbia, have paid family leave programs for single mothers, or will have paid family leave programs, making it easier for new parents to bond with their newborn babies or to care for their ill family members.

    A paid family leave law was passed by Rhode Island in 2014, allowing employees to take four (4) weeks off from work. This is the shortest paid leave allowed by any state in the country. Maternity leave of up to six (6) weeks is available to employees in California and New Jersey. That period will increase to eight and twelve weeks, starting on July 1, 2020.

    With effect from January 1, 2018, New York has joined them. At first, the state will be paying eight weeks and 50% of take-home pay in 2018 and 12 weeks and 67% in 2021. The laws in Washington, DC, and Oregon became effective in 2020, Massachusetts in 2021, and Connecticut is slated to join them in 2022.

    As part of their efforts to provide people with paid family and medical leave, Delaware and Maryland have become the latest states to add such policies, making them the 10th and 11th states.

    When employed, there is no entitlement to family leave (also known as Family Leave Insurance). Employees make more of a small monthly deduction from their paychecks to fund a type of income replacement insurance.

    Section 8 Rental Subsidy

    As one of the most critical housing programs that help single moms in the country, Section 8 is a program that assists the neediest families in finding safe and decent housing. Families with very low incomes, those who are elderly, or those who are disabled can qualify for a portion of their rent to be paid by vouchers under this program.

    You may be eligible for a voucher covering 70% of your rent and utilities. Although the voucher will cover 70% of your rent and utilities, you must pay for the remaining 30% as the renter.

    For instance, a single mother of two might receive a voucher worth about $440 per month for renting an apartment for $700 and working 30 hours weekly at minimum wage.

    Section 8 has historically been oversubscribed, resulting in long waiting lists that can last for years without any end in sight. It would be best to contact your local PHA serving your community to find out about wait times in your area.

    Supplemental Security Income

    Several disabled, blind, or elderly people are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs that help single mothers and provide them with monthly cash assistance. It has been a longstanding tradition for SSI to guarantee a minimum level of income every month since it was established in 1974. SSI pays an individual $841 per month and a couple $1,261 per month.

    Non-cash forms of single mom assistance may also be available from the SSA. Many states automatically grant Medicaid coverage to anyone who receives SSI benefits. There is a wide variety of people who qualify for SSI benefits.

    For instance, the program is designed for those who are blind or elderly. The program is also available to children with disabilities whose parents have little income or resources to help them.

    Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is often the only source of income for many single parents with disabled children. Nevertheless, several eligibility criteria need to be met, and the application process tends to be lengthy. A Social Security representative can help you schedule an appointment to apply for SSI by calling toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or visiting the SSA website at www.ssa.gov.

    Title X

    As the name implies, Title X – pronounced Title Ten – is a federal program that provides preventive health services and comprehensive family planning to low-income families.

    Low-income women without health insurance can get care at reduced rates or even free from family planning clinics funded by this program.

    As part of their services, these include but are not limited to breast exams, Pap smears, and other cancer screenings, HIV testing, prenatal testing, pregnancy counseling, and affordable birth control methods.

    In the past few decades, Title X and Medicaid have provided primary health care to millions of women, especially those from low-income households.

    Unemployment Insurance

    Unemployed workers who lost their jobs due to no fault, including a job lost directly or indirectly due to the pandemic, receive weekly compensation from the Labor Department. Providing temporary wages to unemployed single mothers while they search for a job helps ease the burden of unemployment for single mothers struggling to make ends meet.

    Depending on the state, benefits can range from $235 in Mississippi to $855 in Massachusetts. Different states pay benefits for different lengths of time. Most companies offer a payment schedule for up to 26 weeks or 612 months.

    As a result of the American Rescue Plan Act, unemployment benefits are being extended through September 6, 2021, and workers who lose their jobs will receive additional compensation of $300 a week.

    The state where you reside will determine whether you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits if you have been laid off or furloughed. It is possible to file a claim online or by phone in many states. Through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, you may be eligible for free or (or nearly free) coverage if you’ve collected unemployment benefits at any time in 2021.

    Federal subsidies may lower monthly premiums to as little as zero. You can enroll at HealthCare.gov if you qualify for subsidized coverage. You have until August 15 to take advantage of these discounts, which will last until the end of the year.

    Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

    With the help of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), low-income families can reduce the amount of money they spend on their energy bills. Elderly people and families with children are given priority in most states. Several factors affect a candidate’s eligibility, including their income level. Income below the poverty line of 200% may qualify you for weatherization, depending on where you live.

    Income below the poverty line of 200% may qualify you for weatherization, depending on where you live. As you can see, many helpful government assistance programs can assist single mothers and individuals in need across the country.

    What If You Don’t Qualify For Grants

    Assume for a moment that you are a person who earns “too much” to qualify for food stamp benefits but is earning “too little” to get by month-to-month. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to seek temporary assistance from your local churches, charitable organizations, and community agencies to assist you in overcoming your hardship.

    You can also call 2-1-1 for food, housing, jobs, health care, counseling, and for any other type of assistance you may need in your daily life. 2-1-1 offers 24/7 service to anyone who needs help.

    It is important to remember that most of these grants are temporary and should not be relied upon exclusively – you should strive to become self-sufficient to support your family on your own.

    Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blog section today!