Paying for bills, feeding the kids and keeping a safe “roof over the head” — these are just a few of the challenges single mothers are forced to deal with alone.

It’s hard enough with a partner, but when you’re doing it alone, the difficulty rises to a whole new level.

In Maine, the state makes every possible efforts to assist single parent families, many of whom struggle to make ends meet.

It participates in various key support programs that give these families a better chance at self-sufficiency.

$Maine Earned Income Tax Credit

Maine has officially become the 22nd state with a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — leaving behind Delaware, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia as the only states that offer credit with no refundable portion.

Maine’s EITC, however, remains one of the smallest in the nation [5%] — too small to be effective. For example, if your federal EITC is $3,000, you will only get $150 as a supplemental state credit.

Still Maine is taking a positive step in the right direction by making the state EITC fully refundable, allowing eligible low-income Mainers to receive the full EITC benefit regardless of their tax liability.

1Maine Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

In Maine, the aim of TANF is to provide temporary assistance with basic needs for families with children whose lives have been disrupted by divorce, illness, unemployment or similar challenges.

Apart from cash aid, benefits include child care and transportation assistance, “employment support”, among others. The law, however, allows families to receive TANF benefits for a total of 60 months only.

Families who are otherwise eligible for the TANF program who seek one-time, short-term assistance while searching for a job may apply for Alternative Aid Assistance instead of TANF.

Voucher payments equal to up to three (3) months worth of TANF benefits are available to families to help them avoid the need for TANF benefits.

2Maine Food Supplement Program

The Food Supplement Program is aims to help low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to buy an adequate supply of nutritious food. Those who are on welfare, unemployed and homeless are also eligible.

To receive food supplement benefits, you must first apply in person at your local DHHS Office and complete an interview. No need to fill out an application form.

If eligible, you will receive an EBT Card, known as the “Pine Tree Card” in Maine, to which benefits are issued and accessed electronically, and can be used to withdraw cash or make purchases.

3Maine MaineCare

MaineCare — formerly known as Medicaid, is a health care coverage for eligible Mainers who couldn’t afford to pay for medical care. MaineCare pays all of the cost for many services. For some services, you may need to co-pay for part of the cost.

Parents whose whose income is less than 100% of the poverty level may qualify for full MaineCare coverage. Children below 208% of the poverty level remain eligible for MaineCare coverage.

As Maine is not expanding Medicaid coverage, most low-income adults without children and some parents may not be eligible. However, you may still be able to get financial assistance to pay for coverage in the marketplace.

4Maine Child Care Subsidy Program

Maine Child Care Subsidy Program (also known as the Voucher Program) provides childcare subsidy for income-eligible Maine families who need help paying for child care.

The subsidy amount varies based on the your gross monthly income, family size, and type and cost of care AND since it is a subsidy, you may be required to pay for some of the child care costs.

In general, families with gross family income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level or 85% of the State Median Income (SMI) are eligible to apply for subsidy.1

5Maine Section 8 Program

Maine’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to income-eligible tenants by subsidizing a portion of their monthly rents and paying it directly to their landlords.

Eligible participants are free to choose any housing of their choice, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments and are expected to pay no more than 30% of their income for rent.

To apply for Housing Choice Voucher Program, check the link provided above to see if the county you live in is currently open and accepting new applications.

6Maine Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance is a safety net for those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. It offers temporary financial assistance to thousands of Maine’s unemployed by providing weekly cash benefits to those who qualify.

If you meet the eligibility requirements of the law, you’re entitled to supplemental income while you are looking for a new job, up to a maximum of $410 per week.

To file a new claim, click here or if you’ve filed a new claim or reopened a claim in the past two weeks, click here. If you wish to file by phone, call the Unemployment Claims Center at 1-800-593-7660.

7State of Maine Grant Program

The State of Maine Grant Program is a need-based program that provides grants to Maine undergraduate students who complete the FAFSA. May 1 is the deadline for the State of Maine Grant Program.

Because this is a need-based grant, your expected family contribution (EFC) must not exceed the maximum EFC set in any given year. The maximum EFC for the 2017–2018 academic year is 3,600.

The award amount is up to $1,500 per year for a full-time student. If you are enrolled less than full-time, you may be eligible for a pro-rated amount. However, funds are limited so you are encouraged to apply early.

  1. Please refer to the Income Eligibility Criteria