Being a parent isn’t easy, and doing it by yourself can be especially challenging. If you’re a newly single parent or just looking for some extra help, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to manage. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of resources that provide help for single moms, with everything from government assistance to finding local support groups. Some of these resources can also be accessed by single father families or other single caregiver families.
Use the links below to jump to a specific section, or read through the guide for a comprehensive set of resources.
Table of contents
Financial Resources for Single Moms
In 2018, 34 percent of single-mom families fell below the poverty line in the United States. In fact, the median income for a single-mother led family was $45,128 in 2018, compared to $93,654 median for married couples.
If you’re in need of financial assistance as a single parent, there are many government programs that may be able to help. Each program has its own eligibility requirements, so be sure to confirm your qualifications before applying.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): This program is designed to help families achieve self-sufficiency by focusing on in-home stability for parents and children.
- The Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC): WIC aids pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, as well as infants and children up to age five. While it focuses on nutritional aid, the program also provides referrals to welfare and social services.
- Earned Income Tax Credit: This is a benefit for working people with low to moderate income. You must meet certain income requirements and other criteria to qualify for the tax break.
- Child Tax Credit: Get a tax break of up to $2,000 for a child living with you. Note that if the credit value is more than what you owe in taxes, you won’t qualify for the refund.
- Additional Child Tax Credit: Receive up to $1,400 for every additional child living with you, even if you don’t owe any taxes.
- Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA): This program provides emergency cash to single mothers, offered as a one-time payment of up to $1,000 – the amount may vary depending on the severity of the emergency. Families receiving this assistance are expected to not need TANF assistance for the next 12 months.
- Child Support: Single mothers are entitled to child support from the child’s father. Apply for child support through your state’s government website.
Putting Food on the Table
The last thing you need is to worry about where your child’s next meal will come from. In 2019, nearly one third of single-parent families were food insecure. What’s more, 12 percent of them relied on food pantries for their family’s nutrition.
For single parents, keeping the kids fed can be a struggle. Use the following programs to help you keep food on the table, especially if you’re experiencing financial hardship.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is designed to help struggling families purchase healthy foods on a regular basis. While applications and eligibility are determined on a state-by-state basis, income eligibility limits are pre-determined.
SNAP income eligibility limits (through Sept. 30, 2020):
|Number of people in household||Gross monthly income |
(130 percent of poverty)
|Net monthly income|
(100 percent of poverty)
|Each additional member||+$479||+$369|
To apply for SNAP benefits, contact your state’s agency, visit a local SNAP office, or visit your state’s agency website. Some states may allow online applications.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC serves women who are pregnant, breastfeeding (or non-breastfeeding postpartum), infants, and children up to age five who are found to be at “nutritional risk.”
Eligibility is based on income and varies from state to state. If you participate in other programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNA), Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), you automatically meet income eligibility requirements.
National School Lunch Program
You may be eligible for free school breakfasts and lunches for your children. While schools send meal applications home at the beginning of each school year, you can apply any time during the year by submitting an application to the school. If you qualify for SNAP or TANF programs, you are automatically qualified for free school meals.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
This federal program helps to supplement the diets of low-income families with emergency food assistance at no cost to the family.
There are two ways to access assistance via TEFAP:
- Acquire food from a food pantry
- Eat at a soup kitchen or other group meal location
There are also many ways to get free or discounted supplies for babies. Check out this resource for a complete list of free baby stuff.
Healthcare Services and Resources
For single parents, good healthcare is a must-have, but navigating health insurance is no easy task. The following resources can help you find the coverage you need to keep yourself and your children healthy.
- Medicaid: Many single parents use Medicaid for health insurance, as it provides low-cost or free care to those who qualify. There are strict eligibility requirements, so be sure you meet income criteria before applying. Contact your state to apply for Medicaid.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may still be able to sign your children up using CHIP. It expands Medicaid benefits and provides well-baby and well-child care, dental care, behavioral healthcare, and vaccines.
- Title X Family Planning: This program provides access to critical preventative care services, pregnancy prevention, and family planning resources, including reproductive healthcare and counseling for both men and women.
- Lifeline Program: The Lifeline program provides discounted phone services so that low-income families can gain access to the “lifeline” of emergency services if needed. It offers monthly phone or internet subsidies and is offered by several participating companies – check for participants near you with this tool.
Housing Assistance for Single Moms
For single parents, rent or mortgage payments take up a huge portion of monthly expenses. If you need housing assistance or help paying rent on time, these programs may be able to help.
- Housing Choice Vouchers: This program, formerly known as Section 8 Housing, offers rental housing in privately owned buildings for low-income families. Qualified applicants can choose from any eligible homes, apartments, and townhouses. Contact your local Public Housing Agency to apply.
- Public Housing Program: Low-income families can apply for public housing as long as they meet specific annual gross income requirements and are U.S. citizens or have eligible immigration status. Contact your local Public Housing Agency to apply.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The LIHEAP program provides assistance with costs associated with home energy, energy crises, and weatherization efforts.
- Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP): The U.S. Department of Energy provides services that improve energy efficiency for low-income families, reducing their energy costs and utility bills. Contact your state’s weatherization agency to be considered for services.
Grants and Scholarships for Single Moms
If pursuing a higher education is a dream but the finances just don’t add up, a scholarship may be able to help. These scholarships for single moms are designed to help one-parent households go back to school without worrying about student loans.
- Federal Pell Grant: This is the largest student aid program in the country, providing grants of up to $6,195 a year for students to attend college. This grant provides single parents the opportunity to go back to school. Additionally, it does not need to be repaid. Apply via FAFSA to be considered.
- Amount: Up to $6,195
- Application deadline: Varies
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: Like the Pell Grant, this is awarded to students with the “utmost need” for financial assistance. Eligible recipients are awarded $100–$4,000 a year depending on the severity of their needs. Apply for this grant through FAFSA.
- Amount: $100–$4,000
- Application deadline: Varies
- ANSWER Scholarship Endowment: This scholarship gives financial support to women age 25 and older who are raising school-age children (grades pre-kindergarten through 12) and are planning to get a four-year undergraduate degree in any field.
- Amount: varies
- Application deadline: March 6, 2021
- Capture the Dream, Inc. Single Parent Scholarship: This scholarship hopes to eliminate the burden of tuition costs for single parents seeking higher education.
- Amount: $1,000
- Application deadline: June 30, 2020
- Soroptimists Live Your Dream Award: This scholarship focuses on women who are the primary source of financial support for their families. Applicants must be enrolled in or have been accepted to a vocational training program or undergraduate degree program.
- Amount: varies
- Application deadline: November 15, 2020
There are hundreds of other scholarships available to single parents based on location or other specific criteria. To find more scholarships you could be eligible for, check out this resource. Be sure to also apply for Coupon Chief’s scholarship, which grants up to $1,000!
Child Care You Can Trust
As a single parent, your little one’s care and wellbeing is the biggest priority on your list. That’s why it’s so important to find quality child care services, especially if you’re working or attending school. If you need child care during working hours but can’t afford expensive daycare prices, these programs could provide the resources you need.
- Child Care Assistance Programs (CCAP): CCAP is a state-funded program dedicated to helping needy families afford child care while working, looking for employment, or attending school. There may be a sliding fee scale based on your ability to pay, but the program can help make child care significantly more affordable. This resource outlines state-by-state subsidies for child care.
- Head Start: This federal program promotes “school readiness” for children ages three to five, with eligibility based on family income level. The program offers a comprehensive list of services, including free medical and dental care, education, health and nutrition education, and parental involvement counseling. Find local Head Start centers here.
- Early Head Start: Unlike Head Start, this program serves children from birth to two years old and can also include pregnant women. Find local Head Start centers here.
- Free Pre-Kindergarten Programs: Some states offer pre-K programs that help toddlers prepare for kindergarten. Though this service is free, there may be a charge for before or after-school care. Additionally, there are usually waiting lists that could delay care. Contact local elementary schools to learn more about such programs in your area, or find free programs here.
Finding Local Resources That Can Help
There are plenty of local programs and resources available for single-parent families – you just need to know where to look!
- Churches: Many local churches offer help for single mothers, including help with housing, food, and clothing. Consider visiting a church near you to inquire about their single-parent resources. Most churches won’t require membership, making these services readily available to anyone who needs it.
- Food banks: Local food banks are nonprofit organizations that offer meal assistance to low-income families. Food is often donated by individuals, businesses, and other restaurants. Find a food bank near you by using FoodPantries.org or Feeding America.
- Charities: Use Guidestar to find local charities that may be able to help with housing, food, and more.
- Call 2-1-1: You can call 2-1-1 for essential community services, including assistance with housing payments, utility bills, food, and more.
Whether you’re a newly single parent or just struggling to stay afloat right now, keeping up with bills while feeding and caring for your little ones is no easy task. That’s why it’s more important than ever to save money where you can. We hope this guide helps you navigate life as a single parent – be sure to check out our list of baby freebies for even more savings!
Single Mother Guide | USDA Food and Nutrition Service: 1, 2, 3, 4 | Medicaid | U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 1, 2 | Federal Communications Commission: 1, 2 | U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | U.S. Department of Energy | American Progress