The state of Pennsylvania has a population of 12.8 million with a poverty rate of 13.7%. The poverty rate among children in Pennsylvania is even lower at 19%. This means there are nearly 1.7 million Pennsylvania residents living in a state of poverty. Fortunately, there are multiple assistance programs available to the low income single parents, families and individuals throughout the state. This guide will list and explain all assistance programs available throughout the state and how to apply for the programs.

Financial Assistance in Pennsylvania

Many low income single parents and families struggle with simple expenses and need any help they can get. Fortunately there are programs available for these individuals/families.

Pennsylvania Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The Pennsylvania TANF program provides temporary financial relief to those who are of low income across the Pennsylvania.The cash assistance is used to help pay for bill and various expenses for your family. This program helps parents find adequate higher paying jobs and provides the necessary training to enhance your workplace skills. If you are unable to work, cannot find a job, or do not make enough to keep up with your expenses, you can be eligible to receive the financial assistance. The amount you will receive depends on your income in relation to the amount of people living in your household.

To qualify for this program you must be a legal resident of Pennsylvania, must be considered low income, meeting the income requirements. You must have assets (cash, bank account balance, investments)totalling $1000 or less. To learn more about this program and to apply check out the Pennsylvania TANF webpage.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Insurance

This program provides financial relief to those who have lost their job through no fault of their own. The amount you receive depend largely on a percentage of the amount you made with your previous employer.

To be eligible for this program you must be a legal resident of Pennsylvania, have worked in Pennsylvania within the last 12-18 months and be actively looking for work while you are receiving the benefits. To learn more and to apply check out the official Pennsylvania  Unemployment webpage.

Pennsylvania Credit Counselling

The Advantage Counselling service located in Pennsylvania provides free credit counselling to those struggling with bills and with bad credit. The free counselling can help you better manage your expenses free up for money to better provide for your family. Check out the Advantage Counselling website to learn more.

Food Assistance in Pennsylvania

If you struggle providing food for your family there are definitely some very helpful financial assistance programs available.

Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

This food assistance program will assist with the costs of nutritious foods to the low income residents of Pennsylvania. The benefits are received in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, called the Pennsylvania EBT Access Card. Each month the card will be reloaded with more money, allowing the user to continually purchase nutritious foods. You will be able to use the EBT card to purchase healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, as well as dairy products and more.

To be eligible for this program you must be of low income, meeting the income requirements. To take a look at the income guidelines, to learn more and apply check out the Pennsylvania SNAP webpage.

Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC)

The Pennsylvania WIC program provides numerous nutritious foods, nutrition advice, as well as health care advice for pregnant, postpartum women, and their children up to age 5. In order to be eligible for this program you must be considered of low income, and be deemed at a nutritional risk by a health care provider. Click here to take a look at the income guidelines needed to qualify.

To apply for this program you must contact the WIC clinic in your area of the state. Check out this WIC locator to find a clinic in your area.

Pennsylvania School Breakfast and Lunch Program (SBP)

The Pennsylvania SBP program provides free or low cost meals breakfasts’ and lunches to children of low income families. If you are receiving SNAP benefits, your child will automatically qualify for this program. If not you will have to meet the income guidelines.To apply for this program you must directly contact the school that your child/children attend.

Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania

Medical costs can be a huge burden, especially for the low income, fortunately Pennsylvania has a solid Medicaid program for adults and children.

Pennsylvania Medicaid Program

Pennsylvania Medicaid is the medical assistance program for low income residents of Pennsylvania. This program provides free health care and services to qualifying Pennsylvania residents in a variety of areas such as:

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

Depending on you and your family’s specific situation, not all services will necessarily be covered, or some services might require co-pay. Eligibility for Medicaid is strongly based on your income levels in relation to your age, if you have children etc. In Pennsylvania you get your medicaid through Health Choice Plans. For more information and to apply, check out the Pennsylvania Medicaid webpage.

Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The Pennsylvania CHIP is the state’s medicaid program for children. CHIP program offers all the same free health care services listed above. Basically if your child doesn’t qualify under the Medicaid Program that levels are lower for CHIP making it very easy to qualify.

In order to be eligible for this program you must have a child under the age of 19 living in your household, or be the primary caregiver of a child, and be considered low income. The income levels required for you child to receive CHIP are lower making it easier to qualify for those. qualify. For more information and CHIP and how to apply check out the Pennsylvania CHIP webpage.

Medicaid Expansion – Affordable Care Act

Pennsylvania finally adopted the Affordable Care Act, which makes it easier for residents of Pennsylvania to qualify for Medicaid, as the income levels required to qualify are lower, allow more individuals to receive health benefits. Check out this Pennsylvania Obamacare webpage.

Child Care Assistance in Pennsylvania

Child care is very expensive causing some parents to stay home, not allowing them to work became they have to care for their child. Fortunately there is child care help available in Pennsylvania.

Child Care Works Program

This program provides a variety of child care services such as financial assistance helping pay a portion of child care costs, and finding the safest yet most affordable options. You have to be of low income to qualify for this program. Check out the Pennsylvania Child Care Works Program website. You can also check out the state webpage on this program which outlines the income guidelines needed to qualify.

Housing Assistance In Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has various housing programs available that allow low income families and individuals to better afford their rent payments and to find suitable, affordable living arrangements.

Pennsylvania Homeless Assistance Programs (HAP)

The Pennsylvania HAP program provides assistance to those who are in danger of losing their home being evicted, or to those who are homeless. This program will help you find a place to stay for free while you get things sorted out and provide rental assistance. To learn more check out the HAP webpage on the state of Pennsylvania’s web site.

Pennsylvania Low Income Public Housing Program

The Pennsylvania Low Income Housing Program provides very affordable rental pricing in living arrangements owned by local Public Housing Agencies in your area of the state, whether it be an apartment, single house or condos. Basically, the State of Pennsylvania provides funding to local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs).These local housing agencies will then use these funds to provide the low income families or single parents safe and sanitary housing with rent payments that they can afford to pay.

In order to qualify for these programs you have to be of very low income which is determined at an appointment with your local Housing Agency. To begin the application process, you must contact the local Housing area in your area of the state. Check out this list of Pennsylvania Housing Agencies to find the Agency nearest you so you can get contact them.

Pennsylvania Housing Choice Voucher Program

This program works similarly to the Low Income Program as it is managed through the Local Public Housing Agencies. This program also provides rental assistance to the low income, however with this program you get to choose your own living arrangement. This program provides families with ‘vouchers’ that will allow them to only have to pay a portion of their rent costs or it will provide payments directly to your landlord, which pays a good portion of your rent payment with you paying the remaining portion of the rent. Many times you will only have to pay 30% to 40% of your total rent payment.

To apply for this program you must contact the Housing Agency in your area.

Pennsylvania Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Pennsylvania LIHEAP program provides financial relief to Pennsylvania residents by paying a portion of their energy bills, primarily helping with heating and cooling bills. Pennsylvania has really hot summers and really cold winters, so energy bills can be high year round, making it difficult for single parents and low income families to afford their energy bills.

To be eligible for this program you must meet the low income requirements and be a legal resident of Pennsylvania. Check out the Pennsylvania LIHEAP page to learn more and to apply.

Pennsylvania Weatherization Assistance Program WAP

The Pennsylvania WAP program helps to reduce the amount of energy your home will use, making your home more energy efficient, which results in low energy bills. While LIHEAP provides financial relief with energy bills this program provides your home with needed upgrades.

To be eligible or this program you must have a senior or child living in the household and meet the income requirements. Check out the Pennsylvania WAP program webpage to apply and to learn more about the program.

Pennsylvania First Time Home Buyers Programs

The State of Pennsylvania has a variety of First Time Homebuyers Programs that are offered in connection with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. These programs can offers up to $10 000 in down payment and closing cost assistance making it easier qualify for a mortgage. These programs can also help assist in finding the lowest interests rates possible for your first mortgage.

Check out the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for a look at all the programs they offer.

Transportation Assistance In Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania offers some transportation assistance for medical trips.

Medical Transportation Assistance Program (MTAP)

This program provides medical transportation to and from appointments, test, and treatments to those who do not have a way of transportation. These programs are available all across the state. To find a program in your area and to learn more check out the Pennsylvania MTAP webpage.


Taxis fares can be quit expensive across the state and especially in Pittsburgh. A cheaper alternative to finding cheap rides can be found by using Uber or Lyft. These driving services will take you where you need to go, as ordinary people will pick you up and take you to your designation in their own vehicle, thus allowing for cheaper fares which save you a good amount of money.

Legal Assistance In Pennsylvania

Legal assistance can simply be to expensive for the low income to pursue even if they are in need of legal help. Fortunately you can find legal assistance in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Law Help Organization

The Pennsylvania Law Help Organization features a large database of discounted or free legal help that is available throughout the state of Pennsylvania in many different areas. Many of the legal services provided helps with issues such as, domestic violence, immigration issues, employment issues, evictions, family law and more. Check out to learn more.

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