Assistance Programs in California

 The State of California has a population of about 39 million with one of the highest poverty rates in the entire United States at 16.4%. This means nearly 4 out of every 10 Californians are living in poverty. This means many families, including single mothers struggle to provide basic needs for their families and children. Fortunately, there are numerous financial assistance programs and services available for those in financial need. This article will provide a guide for all the financial assistance programs available.

Financial Assistance In California

It can be difficult finding actual cash handouts for those financial need not only in California, but in any state. However there are a few programs that provide financial relief.

California CalWORKs Program (TANF)

CalWORKs is the state’s welfare program that provides temporary cash assistance for the needy which includes single mothers. If a family is struggling financially there is a good chance you will qualify for this program. This program is available to California residents in all 58 counties and is operated by your local county welfare departments.

If you qualify for CalWORKs, you can receive a monthly cash benefit for up to 48 weeks. The amount you will receive each month depends on a number of factors such as:

  • family household income
  • family size
  • family living situation, and location

In order to be eligible for this program you must be a resident of California and be of low income. Check out the California TANF webpage to see the income requirements and to learn more.

Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI)

This program provides monthly cash benefits for those who are disabled, that would not otherwise be able to receive Supplemental Security Income due to their immigrant status. This program provides a monthly cash benefit. For more information, please click this link.

California Unemployment Insurance

California unemployment insurance provides financial assistance to those who lose their job through no fault of their own. The amounts you are entitled to depend on a percentage of the amount you made with your last employer. To qualify, you must have worked in Texas in the past 12 to 18 months and must be able, available, and actively looking for work when you are receiving benefits. To learn more and apply, please click here.

Food Assistance In California

You should not have to struggle to provide your family with food, if this is you, there is definitely help available. 


The CalFresh program provides and assists low income families afford the necessary nutritional foods needed on a daily basis. The benefits are received in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer card that is reloaded with more funds on a monthly basis.

The average amount of CalFresh benefits provided to a household is approximately $200 per month. To be eligible, everyone in your household must be a legal California resident and meet specific income requirements. For example if you are a family a five, your net monthly income can be $2,326. For a full list of income requirements, please click here. To learn more and to apply check out the CalFresh webpage.

California Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)

The WIC program offers free healthy food to pregnant mothers, and to women with children under 5 years of age. This program provides free food nutritional information, and even health care referrals. In California, there are over 85 WIC agencies which provide the services to over 1.3 million individuals across the state of California at over 600 locations across the state. To find a local WIC office in your area of the state, and to apply you can call 1-800-WIC-WORKS.

As for as single fathers are concerned, the father himself cannot receive any WIC benefits, however their children under the age of 5 will still be eligible for all the WIC benefits.

In order to qualify for this program, you must meet specific annual income requirements based on your household size. For example, a household of 3 would have to have an annual income of $37,167 or lower in order to be eligible. For the full income guidelines for California, please click here.

To find a local WIC office in your area of the state, and to apply you can call 1-800-WIC-WORKS, or click this link.

California Summer Food Service

This program provides free meals to the children of low income families aged 18 and under during the summer months when they might not have the same access to food that they would have while they are in school. In order to qualify you must meet annual financial guidelines. For example of family of 3 would have to have an annual income of $37 000 or lower. For a full list and to learn more please click here.

California Food Banks

The state of California has several food banks located all across the state for those who have difficulty providing food for their family on a daily basis. The food banks provide free nutritious food and are constantly receiving funding to continue providing the free food. To locate a California food bank near you, type in your location in this food bank finder.

Healthcare Assistance in California

Medical Expenses can be through the roof, making it difficult for the low income to afford healthcare. Fortunately there is a good medicaid system in California called MediCal.


Medical is California’s version of Medicaid, which covers the cost of a variety of health related expenses such as:

  • doctor’s visits
  • prescription drugs
  • lab tests and X-rays ordered by doctors
  • hospital care
  • eye care
  • dental care

MediCal eligibility is based on your annual income compared to the amount of people living in your household. For example, a family of 3 would have to make $27,821 or under to qualify for MediCal benefits. This list of income limits will display the income limits in correlation with your family size.

There are different Medi-Cal categories which include categories for children under 21, pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled. A great thing about MediCal is your can still receive Medi-Cal benefits even if you are receiving other California benefits such as CalWorks, and CalFresh.

Extended Medi-Cal through the Affordable Care Act

Fortunately, the state of California is one of the states to adopt the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This act lowers the income thresholds making it easier for many Californians to qualify for Medi-Cal.

Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP)

This program provides free routine checkups for children to help prevent and identify any possible health issues in children. Any children from birth to age 19 will be eligible for this program if your income is equal to or less than 200% of the Federal poverty guidelines. Also if your child is already receiving Medi-Cal, the will automatically be eligible to receive this service. To learn more and to apply click this link.

Child Care Assistance in California

Child care can be a huge expense for single mothers who are in the workforce in California. Many single mothers simply can’t even attempt to work because they cannot afford child care.

CalWorks Child Care Program

This program assists low income single mothers and families gain access to affordable and quality child care services. This program gives the parents flexibility in choosing the type of child care their children receive. The children are eligible to receive the child care until the age of 12. For more information on this program and to apply please click here.

California Head Start Program

This program will provide a learning environment for children ages 0-5 to help enhance their emotional, cognitive, and social development. This program is only available to low income families. You are eligible based on your household income compared to how many people live in your household. For example, a family of 3 would have to have a family income of $20 000 or lower to be eligible. For the complete income guidelines and to learn more please click here.

Housing Assistance In California

If you have trouble making your rent payments or finding affordable housing, the state of California does a good job offering many programs to help.

California Low Income Public Housing Program

This program will allow Californians to receive reduced rent payments in dwellings owned by local Housing Agencies. The dwellings come in a variety of shapes in sizes as apartments, condos or houses. The State of California provides funding to local housing agencies (HAs) as the local housing agencies then provide safe and sanitary place to live for low income families to ensure they have rent payments that they can afford to pay. The eligibility depends by income limits determined not only by the state of California, but the specific county or city that you live in.

This list of California Housings Agencies provides a list of all the Housing Agencies located across the state of California. Once you find the Housing Agency in your area, you can contact them to find out the specific income guidelines required, as well as any details or questions you might have about the program.

California Housing Choice Voucher Program

This program works similar to the Low Income Housing Program as the local Housing Agencies across the state will assist you in applying. This program allows the low income single mothers or families to access affordable, housing through reduced rent payments. This program pays a direct subsidy to your landlord allowing you to pay only a portion of your rent, sometimes as low as only 30% of your total rent cost. Use this list of California Housing agencies to find the agency nearest you.

California Weatherization Assistance Program

The California Weatherization Assistance Program allows to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Doing this to your house results in a savings of approximately $450 per year. The program also low income Californians to receive financial assistance to help with the costs of heating or cooling

In order to be eligible for this program, you must be a legal resident of California and meet annual household income requirements. A family of three would be able to have an annual income of $38 700 or lower to qualify for this program. For a full income listing guiltiness and to apply please click here.

California Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

This program assists low income Californians receive financial assistance to help with the costs of heating or cooling and general utility bill assistance. To be eligible for this program you must be a resident of California, and be of low income. To learn more about this program and to apply check out the California LIHEAP webpage.

California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP)

This program primarily aims to provide down payment assistance for Californian’s who cannot afford the full down payment needed for a house. To be eligible for this program you must be a first time homebuyer. For more information on this program and other similar homebuyer programs, please click here.

Transportation Assistance in California

Taxis can be very expensive, you can use cheaper alternatives as well as receive free medical rides.

California Free Medical Transportation

California has a variety of medical transportation that will drive you to your doctor’s appointments, medical treatments and more. This link has some free medical transportation services that are available throughout the state.


Taxi fares can be really high making transportation to expensive for many. Using Uber or Lyft offers a more affordable option, as individuals drive people where they need to be in their own cares. You can save a lot of money using Uber or Lyft over taxis, so keep this in mind.

Legal Service Assistance in California

Legal assistance and advice can be very expensive just to talk to a lawyer for a few minutes. Fortunately there are some free legal advice programs available to California residents.

Law Help California Organization

This organization has a large database of discounted or free legal services available throughout the state in a variety of subjects. Most of the legal services provided helps with issues such as, domestic violence, immigration issues, employment issues, evictions, family law and much more. To qualify for the free advice, you have to be below a certain income level, which varies depending on who is providing the assistance. Using will provide info and details on free legal services that are available

Family Law Facilitator

A family law facilitator is a family law layer who works for the superior court that provides free help to parents and children with any family law related issue. The lawyer will give you the proper guidance, provide the proper forms to fill out, how to calculate parental support amounts and more. Use the family law facilitator locator to locate these services in your area.

California does a good job providing its citizens with assistance programs in a variety of areas as you can see in this guide. When tough times hit remember there is usually a good source of free assistance that can help you get the help you need.

Links and Resources

Find Local State Assistance Financial Help Programs for Single Mothers

Click on any one of the states below on the map (or via the table) to go to our local state assistance guide for that specific state