As a single mother you might be strapped for cash or having difficulties with your expenses. Many single mothers find themselves in the same situation and would appreciate any sort of assistance. Fortunately, there is some assistance available, with some designed specifically for pregnant or single mothers.
This article will explain some the best federal programs that can benefit a single mother the most. It’s not every program, but covers the MAJOR programs that are far the most popular and well known.
1. Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program designed specifically for women, infants, and their children from birth up to 5 years of age. The WIC program offers free supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition advice and also health care and social care referrals.
The eligibly requirements are as follows:
- children from birth up to age 5
For a woman to be eligible, she must either be:
- Postpartum: eligible up to 6 months after the birth of the child
- breastfeeding: Up to the infants first birthday
- residential: applicants must live in the state that they apply
- income: must be at or below the income level set by the state in which they reside, usually your income level has to be less than or equal to 185% of the state’s poverty guideline
- nutritional risk: must be seen by a physician or nutritionist for an assessment to determine if the individual is at a nutritional risk. The assessment is free. Nutritional risk means any individuals who have a medical or dietary based health condition.
The amount of time you can get WIC varies from six months to a year, as when the benefit period expires you can then re-apply. Keep in mind you must also be deemed at a nutritional risk by the physician or nutritionist to be eligible for these benefits. This is also means you can be at risk for poor nutrition, so if you are of low income struggling for proper food you will be deemed at risk.
2. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The TANF Program will provide a whole load of benefits that can be really beneficial for single mothers. This program will provide temporary financial payments to single mothers which are to be used to better provide for their child. The amount you receive depends on factors such as your income, number of children etc.
Furthermore, TANF also helps single mothers with job training and preparation, and will assist in finding better employment opportunities. Also TANF members also can receive child care assistance, as some of your child care bill will be paid on your behalf.
To apply for TANF you must be of low income. Usually you have to either be working full time or enrolled in job training, however if you are a single mother you only have to be working 20 hours per week to be eligible. TANF is a federal program that is administered through each state individually. To apply for TANF you must contact your local TANF office which can be found by entering your state at the Office of Family Assistance website.
3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The SNAP program helps single mothers pay for their food costs, ensuring their children have the necessary and nutritious food they need. The benefits are received on a plastic card called an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card. The card is loaded with funds, and you simply swipe the card at participating SNAP grocery stores when checking out with the food.
To be eligible for SNAP, you have to meet certain requirements as follows:
- must be of low income: your gross monthly income must not exceed 130% of the US Health and Services poverty guidelines. This should not be a problem as a single mother since you only have one income.
- must not have more than $2000 in assets, including your checking and savings accounts.
- must meet certain working requirements that are set by the state that you reside in.
The amount you receive loaded onto your card depends on your income, and the number of children you have. You can apply for SNAP in person or online through the state that you live in. To get started select your state from the USDA SNAP webpage.
4. Low Income Housing/Housing Voucher Program
As a single mother, your living expenses can be a burden with rent costs on the rise. There are two useful federal housing program that will reduce your rent costs. Keep in mind there are waiting lists associated with these programs which vary depending on the demand and your location. Below is a quick rundown on the two programs:
5. Low Income Public Housing Program
This program will allow you to live in living arrangements that are owned by Public Housing Agencies. The Housing Agencies will usually place you in an apartment that has very affordable rent costs.
To apply you must contact the Housing Agency in your state. Click here to locate a Housing Agency near you.
6. Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program allows you to live in your own housing of choice with reduced rent costs. You will receive ‘vouchers’ that are paid to your landlord that cover a portion your rent costs. Usually the voucher will cover 30%-40% of your rent costs, however it is based on your income, number of children and more.
To apply, you must contact a Housing Agency in your area of the state just like the above program. Click here to locate a Housing Agency near you.
7. The National School Lunch Program
If you have children in school, then this program can be very useful to you. The National School Lunch Program provides free or low cost breakfasts’ and lunches to children while they are attending school. This program even offers after school snacks for the children and drinks are included. Your income and number of children determine if the meals are free or low costs.
To apply for this program, you must directly contact the school that your child attends. Check out the School Nutrition website to learn more.