Throughout the United States, more than 15 million single mothers raise 22 million children, mostly on their own. Although every single parent lives under different circumstances, many face struggles that are hard to overcome alone.
The challenges of being a single mother come in several various forms, from being the only income-earner in a household to time and energy constraints created by raising children solo. Friends and family may step in to provide help when possible, but this isn’t the case across the board.
Fortunately, help for single moms is available through several different programs, including grants for single moms, federal programs, and non-profit or community assistance. Financial resources for single mothers are abundant when one knows where to look.
In this guide:
Federal aid: Grants for single moms
The federal government provides an array of single mom program options that can help in a time of need, depending on the type of assistance required.
Whether money for single moms is necessary for an emergency car repair, putting food on the table, or health insurance, federal aid programs can be a life-saver.
Below are several federal programs for single moms that may offer financial assistance in the form of a grant that does not require repayment.
Financial assistance for single moms
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): When single mothers cannot meet a family’s basic needs, the federal government may provide help through the TANF program. Federal grants for single mothers through TANF are paid by each state so that parents can provide for their children in their own home, when possible.
- Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC): The WIC program is operated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a way to help single moms who are considered low-income. Pregnant, breastfeeding, or other postpartum women may qualify for this federal grant if their children are at risk of not getting enough nutrients due to low income.
- Tax Credits: Several tax credits exist that provide money for single moms. The Earned Income Tax Credit is available to eligible working individuals who meet income requirements. The Child Tax Credit is a refundable credit for parents who have children under the age of 17 and meet specific qualifications. These tax credits offer help for single mothers because they may create a tax refund, even when no tax is due for the year.
- Unemployment Aid: The federal government requires employers to participate in the Unemployment Insurance Program, which offers unemployment benefits to eligible workers. Should a single mother lose a job due to no fault of her own, unemployment aid can provide financial assistance until another job is secured.
- Job Corps: The Job Corps is a federal program run by the Department of Labor, specifically for low-income individuals between 16 and 24 who need technical training, education, counseling, or assistance in finding or keeping a job. Single mothers who meet the criteria may receive job training assistance through this program at no cost to them.
Rent & housing assistance for single moms
- Housing Choice Vouchers: Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Housing Choice Vouchers may be available to provide financial resources for single mothers. These vouchers offer assistance to low-income families so that they can find safe and sanitary housing that meets the requirements of the program. Local public housing agencies distribute Housing Choice Vouchers to single mothers who qualify.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The Department of Health and Human Services administers the LIHEAP program through each state. This program provides money to single moms and other low-income families to help manage the costs of energy bills at home, weatherization of a house, or energy-related minor home repairs.
Federal food assistance
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP is a federal program administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and distributed by states to low-income households and single mothers. Through SNAP, single mothers who need financial help can receive a monthly allotment to help provide food for themselves and their children. The amount of SNAP benefits received each month depends on the size of the household.
- National School Lunch Program: Also overseen by USDA, the National School Lunch Program is a federal financial resource that offers free or reduced-cost lunches to children attending public and non-profit private schools, as well as residential childcare facilities. Help for single moms through this program is provided by the state.
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): Through the TEFAP initiative, USDA offers emergency food assistance to low-income households across the country. Each state distributes food to supplement the diets of eligible parents and their children at no cost to them.
Federal insurance programs
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): As a federal Medicaid program run by individual states, CHIP offers comprehensive health insurance benefits to children who live in households that meet low-income requirements. Periodic screenings, diagnostic testing, and treatment services are offered through CHIP to single mothers who qualify based on state eligibility guidelines.
- Medicaid: While CHIP covers infant to adolescent children, help for single moms on the health insurance front may be available through Medicaid. Most low-income households, pregnant women, and anyone receiving Supplemental Social Security Income are automatically qualified for Medicaid. States may elect to include other groups of individuals in Medicaid eligibility. Health insurance costs are covered under this program when a single mother qualifies for benefits.
Educational assistance for single moms
- Pell Grants: Single moms who are working toward earning a college degree may qualify for federal Pell Grants to help with the cost of tuition. Pell Grants are awarded to low-income individuals who can show significant financial need. Awarded Pell Grants do not need to be repaid after graduation, and they are available through participating higher education institutions. You can learn more in our guide to Pell Grants.
- FAFSA: Other financial aid may be available to single moms who need financial assistance when it comes to their education. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step toward identifying what financial aid is available for single mothers pursuing a college degree. The FAFSA is completed online and lays out what funds are available to applicants through grants, scholarships, and other free money for education.
- Scholarships: Though not all federal, there are many scholarships for single moms that can help you cover the costs of your education.
Childcare programs for single parents
- State-based Programs: Many states provide money for single parents specifically for childcare through subsidies and vouchers. Free or reduced-cost childcare may be available for single mothers receiving other federal or state benefits, such as SNAP or WIC, or those who are below income limits. Help for single mothers through state-based childcare programs is offered through local benefits offices.
- Head Start: Although not directly related to childcare in the traditional sense, Head Start programs run through local agencies and backed by the Department of Health and Human Services may provide robust assistance to low-income single mothers. Head Start programs provide early learning and development help to households around the country, at no cost to the parent. Some plans are available within the school system, while others may be offered through in-home assistance.
Charities & Non-profits
Additional avenues for financial resources for single mothers come by way of charitable organizations and non-profits.
Around the country, several different charities and non-profits operating solely for the purpose of assisting single parents in the areas that matter most. From childcare and wellness programs to job training and food resources, charities and non-profits are available to help.
Some of the most common charitable and non-profit organizations offering single mother benefits include the following:
- YWCA: With more than 200 local associations, the YWCA is one of the largest organizations dedicated to helping women and their children. Local YWCA associations provide resources that help empower women through job training and employment services, health programs, housing assistance, and financial literacy initiatives.
- Bridge of Hope: Bridge of Hope is a Christian organization that operates around the country specifically helping single moms facing homelessness. Through a partnership of local community volunteers and non-profit organizations, Bridge of Hope can connect single mothers and their children with the resources they need to find safe housing.
- Parents Without Partners: As a global organization, Parents Without Partners offers support for single parents in a few key areas. Local chapters run by volunteers lead educational and family activities, as well as adult social and recreational activities for parents. Some chapters also provide cooperative exchanges, such as childcare.
- Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities is a national non-profit organization that can provide help for single moms in a plethora of areas. The organization offers financial assistance and community resources for affordable housing, health and wellness, food and nutrition, and immigration and refugee services. A local office can be found online.
Local help for single mothers
Above and beyond federal assistance and charitable organizations and non-profits, help for single mothers is often available through local, community-based groups.
In nearly any town, single moms can find the financial and emotional resources they need through religious organizations, non-profits, or businesses. Assistance may be available from local food banks, temporary shelters, financial help for utility bills or childcare expenses, or job training.
Financial assistance for single moms and other single mother benefits can be found by reaching out to local community organizations in your neighborhood or city.
>> Read more: Personal Loans for Single Mothers