The Ultimate Guide to Single Mother Assistance Programs (Updated 2016)

Posted on Oct 14 2016 - 8:14am by admin

single mother assistance

Welcome to our complete guide of resources for single moms. In this guide you will find a plethora of resources available through state, federal and private organizations. We have gathered phone numbers, websites and qualification criteria for financial resources, housing, childcare and transportation assistance.

This article is updated for the end of 2016 and we will keep it current.

Over 60 percent of single mothers are living on or below the poverty line. Much of that is attributed to the cost of childcare. Single parents who work full time find themselves spending up to 40% of their income on childcare. As a single parent we understand the importance of readily available resources in a time of need. Our guide will walk you through the various processes to get you the help you need.

In this guide, we cover the following assistance categories, especially as they pertain to single parents, women, and single moms.

  • Financial Assistance
  • Food Assistance
  • Housing Assistance
  • Education Assistance
  • Childcare Assistance
  • Transportation Assistance

We try to give you as thorough a breakdown of the real programs you can can apply for if you are in need of help as a single mother living in the United States. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them at the end of the article.

Financial Assistance for Single Moms

Below we have listed both state and federal government as well as private financial resources. Each program will have their own criteria for qualification and we’ve given current information for 2016. Not meeting the requirements for one does not exclude you from qualifying for other programs. The best thing is to contact the agency directly to inquire about meeting their requirements. For additional information, you can look at our Financial Assistance for Single Moms article.

Here are some of our core articles about financial assistance you might want to check out:

Federal Assistance Programs

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance

TANF provides monthly cash benefits to families that meet the income criteria. Although their main goal is to transition families from needing benefits to establishing employment and independence. Their program assistance begins at $200 to a max of $1000 per month for single parents.

Requirements: You must meet the federal poverty guideline to qualify. The guideline is determined by the Department of Health and Family Services.  

State Assistance Programs

Temporary Assistance (TA)

TA is temporary cash assistance for individuals in need of cash assistance, regardless of their marital or dependent status. Click here for an online application.

Requirements: To qualify, the applicant must be pregnant or responsible for a child under 19. Applicant must also be a U.S. national, citizen or permanent resident. Applicant must meet low income standards and be unemployed.

Family Assistance (FA)

FA provides cash benefits to eligible families that live with a minor child. FA is under the umbrella of TANF, therefore it has the same requirements. For an application click here.

Requirements: Must meet TANF income requirements.

One Shot Deal

Most state localities have a version of a One Shot Deal from the Department of Social Services. This program can assist you with back rent, overdue utility bills and turn off notices.

Requirements: You must be employed. They pay the money directly to the landlord or utility company.

Private Charity Cash Assistance

Below we have listed two private charities that assist single mothers. Most charities have a grant program for immediate use. At the end of this guide you will find over 50 not for profit grant programs for single parents. For a full list, please look at our charity assistance page.

Global Fund For Women

The Global Fund For Women is focused on the empowerment of women and single mothers. Along with their financial assistance they provide education and other helpful resources. To learn more click here.

The Mommies Network

The Mommies Network is a not for profit organization dedicated to connecting women with community programs that can assist with numerous organizations. To learn about their programs click here.

Food Assistance for Single Moms

Unfortunately many children find themselves hungry. Millions of people face hunger every day. In a study taken by the USDA, showed that single households with children have a higher chance of facing hunger.

Below we have listed both federal and state programs that provide food assistance for all low income individuals. We have also listed a statewide list of food pantries. If you don’t see a listing in your area, feel free to contact a food bank in your state for a list of a local pantry.

For more resources related to food assistance, please check out our other articles:

State Food Assistance Programs

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers assistance to millions of  individuals and families who are low-income. SNAP also provides financial benefits to local communities. As of today one in seven people are receiving SNAP benefits. Half of them are single moms with children. If you find yourself in need of food they should be your first stop. They can also help you qualify for other important resources like medical assistance. Read our article on how to apply for SNAP.

Requirements: You may use this pre-screening tool to see if you qualify for benefits. They will inquire about  your income, rent payments, mortgage, medical bills and child care expenses. It is important to list all of your expenses.

Below you will find the 2017 poverty guidelines

Persons In HouseholdPoverty Guideline
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children also  known as WIC focuses on the health of women and infants. Qualifying low-income families who are at nutritional risk may apply for food assistance. By educating while providing funds for specific meal items like milk, eggs, cheese and baby formula, WIC works hard to fight hunger and educate the community.


  • Women who are pregnant as well as those who are breastfeeding.
  • Infants and children up to age 5.
  • Must meet low-income guidelines.
  • Must be a US citizen or resident alien.

Federal Food Assistance Programs

School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program is a meal program created with students in mind. It is a federally backed program that works with schools and not for profit agencies. They also assist child care institutions and private care facilities. The School Lunch Program is dedicated to provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost, and free lunches to children. They are responsible for what your children eat in school.

The United States Department of Agriculture

The United State Department of Agriculture oversees that organizations are providing healthy and affordable meals to at-risk afterschool centers, childcare facilities and adult care centers as well as emergency shelters. Which include shelters. For a directory of local agencies Click here. For an application for your child to receive food assistance click here

Summer Food Assistance Program (SFSP)

During the summer, when school is on break, many children face the possibility of  hunger. The SFSP works very hard to provide up to two meals a day during those summer months. Most schools, churches, summer camps, and community organizations participate in the summer program.This program is responsible for feeding thousands of children who would otherwise skip meals due to poverty.

Children who come from low income households, or whose families  already receive SNAP or TANF may automatically qualify. Also, if a child resides in an area that is classified high poverty, that child who attends the site will receive free meals. For participating areas, click the link above.

Private Food Assistance (Organizations and Statewide Pantries)

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army was established as part of the Christian Church philosophy. They pride themselves on advancing the Christian religion, fighting hunger, education, and fighting poverty. They have helped thousands of people for over 150 years. The Salvation Army assists families all over the world with food, furniture, clothing and other resources.

The Red Cross

The American Red Cross is best known for its disaster relief efforts and volunteers. Their mission is to help as many people as possible, whether it’s in community affairs or a disaster. The Red Cross is known for providing food, emergency shelter, job and blood.


WhyHunger is a database located online which houses a database of community-based organizations and emergency food providers. Their mission is to fight hunger by providing resources to assist those in need.


The Food Pantries website is a not for profit online resource that lists the majority of food pantries within the United States.

Housing Assistance for Single Moms

Between food, shelter, transportation and child care, parents may find themselves struggling to pay housing costs. Possibly even facing eviction. Below we have listed both government and private organizations that assist specifically with housing needs. We have also listed home buying programs that assist low-income families, who are looking to purchase a home for the first time.

For more information about housing assistance, please read our related articles:


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

TANF provides grants to parents who are struggling financially. They provide both financial assistance and community resources to ensure families do not become homeless.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

HUD provides resources to individuals and families on community and federal programs that assist low-income families looking for housing relief. HUD also provides section 8 vouchers in certain communities. Click here to locate an office near you.

United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The USDA also provides grants to low-income families who are trying to purchase a home for the first time.

Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Program

The Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) assists single parents and families who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless by moving them into a transitional home.

Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac prides itself in low down payment and low interest rates. They have helped over 1.5 million people with their dreams of home ownership. If you are thinking of purchasing a home Freddie Mac should be your first stop.

An online resource center that focuses on helping people find down payment assistance and other resources.

Low Income Housing Sites

LowIncomeHousing.US is a free online resourse that provides landlord and mangaement offices phone numbers, maps, address, pictures, and emails.

This online resource updates information on the daily basis. There service is also free.

Housing and Urban Development

The United States Housing and Urban Development’s goal is to provide low income individuals with resources to help them find housing.

Private Organizations

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army can assist with emergency shelter, transitional living and overnight stays.


Goodwill can assist with community services and financial assistance.

Community Economic Development (CED)

The CED provides emergency housing, energy and utility shut-off.

Eviction Assistance

If you or your family find yourself in a position where eviction is inevitable, there are steps you can take to prevent or delay eviction. Below we have listed private organizations that represent parents with legal assistance or emergency shelter.

Coalition for the Homeless

Emergency rental assistance program with eviction prevention services.


HELP provides emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence, veterans, and families.

Volunteers of America

VOA Provides low-income housing to people in needs.

Online resource with a listing of emergency shelters by state.

Transportation Assistance

Transportation is an important resource for single parents. Whether it’s doctor appointments emergency visits to ER or soccer practice. Below we listed a few services and methods to obtain transportation.

1) Private car services

Every city has private transportation services. Many companies are willing to work out deals and discounts with locals. They may even schedule routine pick ups for appointments and work,

2) Residence transportation services

Many residential facilities provide transportation services for their residents.Contact your management office and ask about any services or referrals.

3) Ridesharing

Many churches, community centers and not for profits have ridesharing services. Most are called dollar vans. They run through major avenues and streets.

4) Public transportation

Every county has a version of mass transportation. Dial 411 to find out schedules, prices etc.

5) Paratransit

Paratransit is a service that is sponsored by major cities. They usually cater to disabled and the elderly.

6) Volunteer Drivers

Many community and senior organizations provide volunteer transportation services.

7)Free Transportation Programs

Most localities offer low income and free transportation for families in need. If you are age 60 or above, have a disability and are low income you may qualify.

8)State Auctions

There are 3 different types of auctions local, state and federal. Auctions are a  great resource for finding a vehicle at a very competitive price. Below we have listed sites and agencies that provide auctions.

EZ Ride Welfare Transit

Recipients who receive government assistance for food, shelter or medical can qualify for free transportation. EZ Ride is a good online resource to locate local services.

A website that assists you in finding local auctions. Visit to find your local auction.

S Marshals

The U.S. Marshals sells assets seized by local law enforcement agencies. Profits are used for victims and support community programs.

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS seizes all types of property for nonpayment of taxes.

Government Sales

The Government Sales is a website that provides surplus items from finished contracts. You can buy land, jewelry, cars, trucks, tools, electronics and many other items.

GSA Auctions

The GSA sells surplus Federal assets. They auctions take place online. Anyone can bid electronically on Federal assets..

Department Of Treasury

The Department of Treasury provides forfeited or seized property as a result of federal law enforcement violations.

Child Care Assistance

Working parents can agree that childcare is their biggest concern. A school-aged child will spend over 36 hours a week away from home. An article in the Washington Post, states that daycare costs surpass college tuition. There are different options for single parents, one cost effective way is to search for local family care home providers. They are licensed by the state to care for children in their home. Starting rates can be as low as $140 a week per child.  They also have a ratio of five children to one adult, so your child can get the best attention. Click here to find a statewide providers list.

For more information about various childcare programs and daycare assistance, read our related articles on the topic.

Childcare Vouchers

The Department of Education provides parents who meet income guidelines with vouchers to help them pay for childcare. It is a subsidy program. The basic requirements are below although they may vary in your state.

  1. The family must demonstrate a child care need.
  2. The parent must be employed or attending school.
  3. The parent is currently seeking permanent housing.
  4. The parent is already receiving public assistance, food stamps or medicaid.

Office of Children and Family Services

The Office of Children and Family Services goal is the safety of all children. They support low-income families. By providing resources and child services.

Child Care and Development Fund

The Child Care and Development Fund assists low-income families who need child care.

Child Care Subsidy for Federal Employees

Child care subsidy programs are for federal employees. Their programs assist employees who are in need of child care services.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

TANF assists low income families with a wide range of services. Visit the above link to find your local office. Read our article about how to apply for TANF.

Head Start / Early Head Start

The Head Start program is funded by the federal government. They provide free child care to eligible families. It is for children under the age of five.

Education Assistance (Financial Aid)

One of many hard decisions a parent needs to make is whether or not to continue their education. Besides sacrificing the little free time you have, it might not be financially possible. According to the current cost of tuition is over $32,405 at private colleges and $23,893 at public colleges. Luckily for us there are many organizations both private and federal that want to help you go to college. Let’s start with the grants available to you. Most grants are paid directly to the college and are not required to be paid back.

For more information, read our related articles about Education Assistance

Federal & State Education Assistance Programs

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for undergraduate students who are in financial need. This grant is also for new students only.You can be awarded anywhere from $100 to $4,000 per semester.

Federal Work Study Program

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program is funded by the federal government. It is a grant that is rewarded through employment. The Federal Work Study grant does not need to be paid back.  The student will be working for their awarded amount. Students who wish to gain hands on experience in  different types of careers should take advantage of this. It is a great chance to network with professionals in your career choice, while getting paid. You are paid directly.

Please note other students may be interested in the same opportunity as you, therefore you should apply early. It’s first come, first served. To find out if your college accepts FWS click here.

The $5775 Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant provides grants to over 3 million students yearly. This grant is for undergraduates who have not been reward this grant before. The maximum award is currently $5815.00

Teach Grant

The teach grant is a grant specifically for students who intended to become educators. Unlike other grants if you do not complete your education you will be required to pay the loan back. They provide grants up to $4000 a year.

Perkins Loan

Also called the federal student loan.

The Perkins loan is a federally funded low interest loan. There are for both undergraduates and graduate students who might not qualify for grants. Although you can use both types of financing.

Grants & Scholarships for School

Federal Grant (Pell Grant)

This is a grant for school that’s given out to applicants who demonstrate financial need.

To Qualify for the Federal Pell Grant

To know if you qualify for any of the above grants you must apply through a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. There are basic requirements that must be met and are  highlighted below.. The FAFSA application is free. You should never pay anyone to fill one out.

The whole application takes about 30 minutes. Even if you believe you don’t qualify, you should fill one out as many programs have different criterias not only relating to income. To financially qualify for funding, you need to meet the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) guidelines. It  is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The way it’s calculated is the cost of your attendance minus your expected family contribution.

You must also meet the below basic qualifications:

1. A high school diploma or GED

  1. Are enrolled or accepted into a college or university
    3. Citizen or eligible non-citizen
    4. Not be delinquent on any federal student loans
    5. Must meet specific GPA
    6. Must be enrolled in a Bachelor program
  2. Grants are on a first come, first served, therefore you should apply as soon as possible. Every individual school determines the due date and deadlines for applications.

Non Profit, Education Institutions, or Private Grants & Scholarships

It’s possible to find education grants and scholarships, offered by education institution, non profit organizations, and businesses.  Your best bet to find these it to visit the local financial aid office in a college or university and inquire about the financial help programs for school — the office should have a list of such programs and the requirements. You can also do a Google search and look at various scholarship-finding websites which might list.

Look at our two lists as a start:

Private Student Loans

Not all schools participate in these types of loans so it’s important to find out if your school does. Private loans are basically subsidized or subsidized loans offered by banks to students. Your credit history will be checked.

PLUS Loans

PLUS loans are directly lent through the Board of Education. Although it is through the Board of Education you must qualify through credit.

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae has very competitive rates. They can start as low as 2.62% at this moment. There are no origination fees and payment options are very flexible.

Wells Fargo Student Loans

Wells Fargo provides student loans to undergraduates for school as well as education related expenses. They rates are competitive for the private sector and have an easy application process.

Citizens Bank Student Loans

Citizens Bank has no application fees and competitive rates. You can borrow from $1000 to $170,000 depending on your education level and GPA.

Federal Student Loans vs Private Student Loans

The Difference between Federal versus private are below. You can find this chart here.

Federal Student Loans                                                       Private Student Loans
You do not pay federal students loans until after graduationMost payments are immediately
Interest rates are low and start around 5%Rates depend on your credit and can be as high as 18%
Undergraduate students who are in financial need can get assistance paying interest ratesPrivate loans must be fully paid by student
You don’t need a credit checkYou do need a credit check
Loans can be consolidatedLoans cannot be consolidated
You may be able to postpone paymentsYou are usually not allowed to postpone payments

There are more advantages and disadvantages to both. It is important to note that either way, you do not want to default on either. For grants you must keep a specific GPA.

The Final Word

Whether you need financial, transportation, or assistance to continue your education, there is someone who can help. We hope this guide will provide you with the resources you need to succeed.