Financial Help for Single Mothers in Illinois

Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rate in the country and one of the last states to recover.1

Statistically, single mothers are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as married women.

And as a result, many are forced to rely heavily on families and friends or government assistance to survive.

To help them in times of hardships, the state of Illinois funds a variety of support programs for families struggling to “make ends meet”.

1Illinois Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The TANF program is one of Illinois cash benefits programs that provides temporary financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.

In Illinois, cash benefits are issued on a monthly basis through the Illinois Link Card that works like a debit card, allowing you to use the card at authorized retailers or to get cash from an ATM.

If you have questions or need help with the application, call the DHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154 or apply online through ABE — Illinois’ new web-based portal for Medicaid, SNAP and cash assistance.

2Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Illinois SNAP (formerly Illinois Food Stamps) helps low-income people and families in Illinios with cash assistance 2 to buy the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet.

Eligibility is determined by certain factors, mainly your income & household size. Single mothers & elderly SSI recipients are more likely to receive SNAP benefits than others.

3Illinois All Kids (CHIPRA)

Illinois’ All Kids offers health care coverage to Illinois children that includes doctors visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision & dental care and eyeglasses.

All Kids are available at no cost or at low cost. Depending on your income level, you may have to pay an affordable monthly premium for coverage, with most in the $15 to $40 range.

4Illinois FamilyCare

FamilyCare offers healthcare coverage to low-income Illinoisans living with their children 18 years old or younger. Like All Kids, FamilyCare covers doctor visits, specialty medical services, hospital care, emergency services, prescription drugs and more.

For most families with incomes below 318%, FamilyCare will be free but there may be small co-pays, from $2 to $3.65, for doctor visits and prescriptions.

5Illinois Medicaid

As Illinois is expanding Medicaid coverage, most uninsured Illinoisans age between 19-64 with income up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) are now eligible for Medicaid.

If you’re not already insured, visit — the state’s new health insurance marketplace and answer a few questions at “Explore Your Health Coverage Options” to find out whether you could qualify.

For those who “earn too much” to qualify for Medicaid, you may still be able to get financial assistance to pay for coverage in the marketplace.

6Illinois Special Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC)

WIC provides supplemental foods, nutrition education and referrals to health care, at no cost, to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5.

In order to qualify, you must be a resident of the state of Illinois who meet the WIC income eligibility guidelines and be individually determined by a health professional to be at nutrition risk.

7Illinois Head Start

The Illinois Head Start promotes school readiness for children in low-income families between the ages of 3 and 5. It does this by providing comprehensive educational, health, nutritional, and social services.

Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are automatically eligible for Head Start, regardless of income.

8Illinois Child Care Assistance Program

Administered by Illinois Department of Human Services, the Child Care Assistance Program helps pay for child care expenses for income-eligible working families in Illinois.

Families are required to cost-share on a sliding scale based on family size, income, and number of children in care. You may use the Eligibility Calculator to see if you qualify and to determine your co-pay.

To apply for CCAP, you must complete and submit a Child Care Application (form 3455) to your local child care agency along with other documentation.3

9Illinois Summer Food Service

The aim of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is to serve nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the months of June, July, and August when school is out.

There is no application necessary to receive a meal and you do not have to show proof of income. Kids and teens ages 18 and younger can just show up at a summer meal site for a free breakfast or lunch — no questions asked.

10Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is designed to assist eligible low income households pay for their energy bills.

Under the new Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP), Illinois households will have the option to pay a portion of their income & receive a monthly benefit towards their utility bill in lieu of the traditional plan of one-time benefit.

Contact your local Community Action Agency to make an appointment to apply for LIHEAP. Proof of income for the 30 days prior to application is required.

11Illinois Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance is a state-operated insurance program designed to partially replace lost wages when you are out of work through no fault of your own.

If you meet the eligibility requirements of the law, you’re entitled to UI benefits while you are looking for a new job — up to a maximum of 26 full weeks in a one-year period.

Claims for UI benefits may be filed online or if you wish to file in person, find an IDES office nearest you.4 If you have questions, call (800) 244-5631 for assistance.

12Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant

The Illinois MAP Grant is available from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges and demonstrate financial need, based on the information provided on the FAFSA.

Unlike the Federal Pell Grant, there is only a limited amount of MAP funds available so students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1.

  1. Crain’s, Why is Illinois unemployment so high? []
  2. If you are planning to apply for SNAP, you may want to use the pre-screening tool to help you estimate what you may be eligible to receive. []
  3. Find your local CCR&R or call 1-877-202-4453 (toll-free) []
  4. Use the IDES office locator​ to find an office nearest you. []