Parenting is daunting enough with a partner, but even more so if you’re a single mother going it alone on one income.
More often than not, circumstances force many to juggle multiple jobs — and working twice as hard just to stay afloat.
The state of Ohio has lined up several support programs designed to help them tide over difficult times.
From food and cash assistance to child care and medical benefits, these programs aim to help them with basic needs while they work toward becoming self-sufficient.
Ohio is one of 26 states with an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but it does little to help the states’ poorest working families, and the benefit is modest — pegged at 10% of the federal allocation.
It is one of the weakest in the nation because it is not refundable and recipients do not receive their full credit as Ohio’s EITC has an odd income cap for families that earn more than $20,000.1
In other words, for those with taxable income over $20,000, they can only claim half their tax liability in EITC, even if they are eligible for more. This cap on the state credit hurts families who could use the full aid of the EITC.
Ohio Works First (OWF) is the financial assistance portion of Ohio’s TANF program. OWF was established to provide time-limited cash assistance to eligible, needy families — for up to 36 months.
You will be required to participate in work activities for the required number of hours every month that you are on assistance. Failure to do so without good cause can result in termination of benefits.
Currently, an OWF benefit for a family of three is $483. Benefits are issued through either the Ohio PATHWAY card or deposited directly into your bank account.
You may apply for Ohio Works First online by going to ODJFS Benefits or by filling out the “Request for Cash, Food and Medical Assistance” (JFS 7200) form and submitting it to your county agency.
The Food Assistance Program — formerly the Food Stamp Program, helps eligible low-income Ohioans stretch their food budgets and buy healthy food.
You may qualify for benefits if your household’s gross monthly income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines or about $26,500 per year for a single mother of two.
If you are accepted into the program, your food assistance benefits are automatically deposited to your Ohio DIRECTION Card account on the same day of each month you are eligible.
WIC helps income eligible pregnant and breastfeeding women, new mothers, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at health risk due to inadequate nutrition.
To be fully eligible for the program, applicants must be determined by a health professional to be “at nutritional risk” and have incomes within the Ohio’s WIC income guidelines.2
WIC clinics are located in all 88 Ohio counties. To find a WIC clinic near you, please click here or call 1-800-755-GROW (4769) for assistance.
Ohio Healthy Families guarantees coverage for basic health and long-term care services for Ohioans from low-income families — mostly uninsured families with children under age 19.
As Ohio is expanding Medicaid coverage, Healthy Families is now available to all Ohioans age between 19-64 with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL).3
Those who qualify gain access to important services like doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital care, immunizations, vision and dental care, mental health services and more.
Apply online at OHIO Benefits — the official portal for Ohio residents to apply for Medicaid. If your application for Medicaid is approved, you will get a letter with your Medicaid card and can start using services right away.
Healthy Start (also called SCHIP) provides health care coverage for children younger than age 19 and pregnant women who qualify based on income. For most families, it is free. For those with higher incomes, copayments typically range from $3 to $5.
Healthy Start is open to uninsured children from families whose household income is 206% or less of the federal poverty level (FPL) or less than 200% for pregnant women.
The Children’s Buy-In (CBI) Program
If your income is too high to qualify for Healthy Start, the Children’s Buy-In program is available to uninsured children in families that earn up to 300% of the federal poverty level.
In order to qualify, children must be uninsured for at least six months prior to enrollment and meet additional guidelines. Monthly premium may vary according to one’s family income.
Ohio CCAP is the state subsidy program targeted at low-income families who need help paying for child care. It provides assistance with payment for child care on a sliding fee basis for eligible parents.
CCAP is available for children under age 13 whose parent is employed or enrolled in OHIO WORKS FIRST program. Some exceptions can be made for those that are disabled.
The program pays for part of the child care costs, and you co-pay for a portion based on your income, family size and the number of children in care.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded program that provides free nutritious meals to children living in low-income areas throughout Ohio. The program operates throughout the summer months (Jun – Aug) when they are out of school.
All children ages 1 through 18 are eligible to receive free meals during the summer months at participating program sites. For more information or to find an SFSP site near you call 1-866-3-HUNGRY (486479)
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps income eligible Ohioans pay their heating bills. The one-time benefit is applied directly to a recipient’s utility bill or fuel bill.
Ohioans with a household income at or below 175% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the program. Priority is given to households with the highest needs or home energy costs in relation to their income.
Applications can also be found at your local community action agency, local libraries, county departments of Job and Family Services, and Area Agencies on Aging.
For additional Information:
Call HEAP toll-free at (800) 282-0880 during regular business hours (7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) Monday through Friday.
If you have received a disconnect notice, you should immediately contact your local community action agency for help applying for Emergency HEAP.
Unemployment Insurance is a “wage replacement” program that helps workers who are unemployed. It provides temporary financial help to qualified individuals based on their previous earnings, while they are looking for a new job.
Ohio is one of the states that offers a dependency allowance to those who qualify. If you have up to two dependents, you may receive up to $598 per week of unemployment benefit.4
You may apply for UI benefits either electronically or by phone at 1-877-OHIOJOB (1-877-644-6562) toll-free, Monday through Friday (except holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) program provides grant money to Ohio students who demonstrate the highest levels of financial need with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $2,190 or less.
Award amounts range from $252 to $3,000 annually based on student’s enrollment status and the type of institution the student is attending. The application deadline is October 1 each year.