Parenting can be quite a challenge for single mothers, both socially and economically — particularly those with lower incomes.
The entire responsibility of raising their children on their own is often too overwhelming. For many, each paycheck is about survival for herself and her family.
It’s without doubt that many of these families — even during the best of times, need public assistance to stay afloat.
Good thing is, the state of Minnesota recognizes their plight and is offering the much needed financial assistance.
Minnesota Working Family Credit (WFC) is a refundable credit for working individuals and families whose income is below a certain level — similar to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
To see if you are eligible for the state credit, complete Schedule M1WFC, Minnesota Working Family Credit.1 To claim the credit, you must file a state tax return (Form M1, Individual Income Tax) and Schedule M1WFC.2
There are also free tax preparation sites throughout Minnesota where trained, professional volunteers will help prepare your taxes at no cost to you.
I qualify for the Federal EITC. Does that mean I also qualify for Minnesota’s Working Family Credit?
Not necessarily. Minnesota’s rules are different from the federal rules. As a result, there are circumstances when you may qualify for the federal credit, but not for the state credit.
Minnesota Family Investment Program, or MFIP, is the state’s welfare reform program for helping low-income families with children reduce dependence on public assistance and move out of poverty through work.
Most people have to participate in a Diversionary Work Program (DWP) before they start to get MFIP benefits. This is to help parents find a job and obtain work rather than receive welfare.
MFIP Housing Assistance Grant
Beginning July 1, 2015, MFIP-eligible families who are not currently receiving public housing or assisted rental subsidies will also receive $110 each month to help pay for housing.4
The SNAP is a county-run, state-supervised federal program that helps low-income Minnesotans get the food they need for sound nutrition and well-balanced diet. The program issues electronic benefits that help stretch their food budget.
The amount of benefits your household can get is based on the income, expenses and number of people in your household. The average monthly benefit amount per household with children in Minnesota is $354.
Application for SNAP can be made online at ApplyMN. For some emergency situations, you could get benefits within 24 hours, or five working days from the day you file your application.
If you need food right now, Minnesota Hunger Partners and the Minnesota Food Helpline 1-888-711-1151, a program of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, can help you find a food bank or meal.
MFAP is provided to non-citizens who do not receive benefits from the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), who do not qualify for SNAP due to citizenship requirements, and who are 50 years of age or older.
Participants receive the same amount of food assistance they would have been eligible for under the SNAP program. MFAP benefits are issued through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which can be used to purchase food at retailers that accept EBT.
Apply online through ApplyMN or call the SNAP Hotline at 651-431-4050 in the Twin Cities metro area or 800-657-3698 outside the metro area.
Medical Assistance (MA) is Minnesota’s Medicaid program that provides health care coverage to low-income Minnesotans. MA does not have a premium (monthly fee). However, members do have small co-pays for some services (cost sharing), usually $1 – $3.
As Minnesota is expanding Medicaid coverage, nearly all uninsured Minnesotans age 19-64 with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level may now gain coverage — the second highest eligibility threshold nationally, behind District of Columbia. The current threshold for parents remains at 133%.
Minnesota is also operating a State-Based Marketplace, known as MNSure, through which you can apply for Medicaid, MinnesotaCare or other private health insurance.
MinnesotaCare is the state’s CHIP program that provides comprehensive health care coverage for Minnesotans who meet certain eligibility requirements and do not have access to health insurance.
Services covered by MinnesotaCare include doctor visits, immunizations, hospitalization, prescriptions, eye exams, eye glasses, dental care and more.
Premiums are based on household size, income and the number of people getting coverage. Some low-income families pay as little as $4 per month. No co-payment for pregnant women and children under 21.
The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) helps parents with lower incomes pay for child care. Priority is given to families on MFIP — Minnesota’s welfare program.
Families that qualify for the CCAP can choose their own child care provider. Since it’s a subsidy, the county that you live in pays part of the cost of your child care and you have to pay a co-payment to the provider each month.
Generally families with very low incomes do not have a co-pay. Others may pay between $10 and a few hundred dollars each month depending on their income and family size.
In some counties, there is often a waiting list in place so it is best to apply as soon as possible to get on the list. To find out if your county has a waiting list, click here.
Minnesota WIC is a nutrition program that provides nutrition and health education, healthy food and other services, at no cost, to Kansas families who qualify.
The program serves pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children in Kansas whose gross income falls below certain limits; and who are at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
Families who are already eligible to participate in any of the following programs: Medicaid, MFIP, SNAP, and Energy Assistance are automatically eligible for the WIC Program without proof of income.
To find a WIC Clinic near you, call
Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP) helps pay home heating costs for low-income households, particularly those with the lowest income, that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy.
To qualify for the EAP, applicants must have an income that falls within the program guidelines. Priority is granted to households with the elderly, disabled or a young child under age 5.
Eligible households will receive between $100 to $1400 of assistance. Those with the lowest incomes and the highest cost for energy will get the most help paying their bills.
For help finding your local EAP provider, call
Unemployment insurance benefits provide a temporary partial wage replacement to workers unemployed through no fault of their own that meet Minnesota’s eligibility requirements.
In Minnesota, the weekly benefit amount is about 50% of your average weekly wage — up to a maximum of $693. As a condition of eligibility, you are required to actively seek suitable employment each week that you are collecting benefits.
You can apply for UI benefits either online or by phone using the Applicant Self-Service System, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
To file your claim over the phone, one of the following phone numbers:
- Twin Cities Area
- Greater Minnesota
The Postsecondary Child Care Grant Program provides financial assistance to students who have children 12 and under to help pay for child care while pursuing a postsecondary education.
To be eligible, you must demonstrate financial need AND are not receiving assistance under the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP).
The maximum award amount is $2,800 per eligible child per academic year. The amount of the award, however, cannot exceed 40 hours of child care per week per eligible child.
Minnesota State Grant is designed to help low and middle income students pay for college5. To be considered for this grant, you must be a Minnesota resident with the requisite level of financial need.
The minimum annual award is $100. Average awards range from $1800 to $2400 a year (subject to appropriations). Deadline is no later than 30 days after the start of the semester for which you are applying.
Adults who are returning to school to start or complete a degree may receive between $350 to $1,100 a year to enroll in a bachelor’s program within the Minnesota State University system.
The procedure for selecting recipients varies from campus to campus. Please contact the financial aid office at the university you attend (or plan to attend) for more information.
- Schedule M1WFC, Minnesota Working Family Credit
- Form M1, Individual Income Tax
- How long can you stay on welfare in Minnesota?
- Minnesota DHS, Implementing the MFIP Housing Assistance Grant
- In 2015, 36% of State Grant funds goes to students with family incomes below $20,000, 37% goes to those with incomes between $20,000 and $50,000, and the rest goes to those with incomes over $50,000.