More often than not, without adequate assistance, single mothers face serious barriers to achieving self-sufficiency.
With few resources and little income, these families have always been exceptionally vulnerable to poverty.
And for this reason, support programs are made available to help those in need — each with its own set of eligibility guidelines.
From food, child care to medical assistance, Pennsylvania hopes to ease their financial burden during times of hardship.
TANF provides very low-income Pennsylvanians with temporary financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.
As a condition of eligibility, those receiving cash benefits are required to complete and sign an agreement to engage in work activities that will lead to employment.1
Now you can apply for TANF from the comfort of your home using COMPASS — an online application for Pennsylvanians to apply for benefits including SNAP.
SNAP benefits are used to buy food and help low income families in Pennsylvania obtain more nutritious diets. The monthly benefits range from a minimum of $16 to a maximum of $390 for a family of three.
If you are eligible, you will receive a Pennsylvania EBT ACCESS Card which is used to make food purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets.
If you have questions about SNAP, you may call the Department of Public Welfare Helpline at 1-800-692-7462 or visit your local county assistance office.
WIC is a federally funded program that provides healthy supplemental foods and nutrition services for eligible pregnant women, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children under age five who meet the income guidelines.
To be eligible, you must be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania, have a medical or nutritional risk, and have a gross household income that does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty guidelines.
WIC Agencies provide services in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. You may call 1-800-942-9467 to be connected to a WIC office in your county.
Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid, offers health care coverage for Pennsylvania residents who meet the program’s eligibility requirements for Medicaid. Unlike regular health insurance, you don’t have to pay for it, and most services are free.
Pennsylvania implemented the Medicaid expansion as of August 28, 2014.2 As a result, Medicaid now covers nearly all uninsured Pennsylvanians age 19-64 with income up to 133% of FPL.
You can apply for or renew your Medical Assistance online by using COMPASS or apply by telephone by calling the Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355.
Pennsylvania CHIP provides health coverage to uninsured children up to age 19 whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage.
In Pennsylvania, children with family income up to 314% of poverty or about $64,100 for a single mother of two are already eligible for CHIP or Medicaid.
For most families, it’s free. Families with incomes above the free CHIP limits will pay low monthly premiums and co-pays for some services. American Indian and Alaska Native children are excluded from cost-sharing.
SelectPlan for Women is a Pennsylvania program that offers free and confidential women’s health care for women age 18-44, including free birth control. Coverage is unlimited and entirely free.
To qualify for SelectPlan, you must be a Pennsylvania resident with income not exceeding 185% of the poverty level and have no private insurance or Medicaid.
You can apply online with COMPASS, or apply in person at any County Assistance Office or COMPASS Community Partner, including family planning clinics near you.
Subsidized child care in Pennsylvania is provided through the Child Care Works program that helps low income families afford quality child care. Families with incomes up to 200% of federal poverty level or about $40,800 for a single mother of two, may qualify for child care subsidy.
As a condition of eligibility, participants are required to work at least 20 hours a week or work at least 10 hours a week and participate in an approved training program at least 10 hours a week.
For more information, call the Child Care Works helpline at 1-877-4-PA-KIDS. You can also find help and information at your local Child Care Information Services office.
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 that prepare them for school and life.
Families who are 100% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply. The pre-school program may be offered as center-based or home-based services — and is free.
Pennsylvania’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, provides housing vouchers to low income families and individuals to find a housing unit of their choice in the public housing market.
Families who are income eligible often need to pay up to 30% of their rent and utilities while the rest will be covered by the Section 8 subsidy.
The HCV wait list is currently closed. Applicants may check their status online or by calling 215-684-4300.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income families pay their heating bills. This one-time payment is sent directly to your utility company or fuel provider, and it will be credited on your bill.
In addition to the LIHEAP cash program, households experiencing a heating crisis may be eligible for additional benefits through the LIHEAP crisis program — up to a maximum of $500.
If you need help paying your heating bills, or have a heating emergency, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095. Crisis assistance is available 24 hours a day.
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 supplemental income while you are looking for a new job, up to a maximum of 26 full weeks in a one-year period. The current maximum benefit rate is capped at $573 a week.
You can file your initial claim electronically or if you wish to file your claim over the phone, please call the statewide toll-free number at 1-888-313-7284.
The Pennsylvania State Grant Program is a financial assistance program that provides funding to eligible Pennsylvanians to go to college. Award amounts vary, and are determined by financial need, cost of tuition, and availability of funds.
To be considered for a Pennsylvania State Grant, you must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and complete the Pennsylvania State Grant Form.
- Single mothers caring for a child under one year of age are eligible for work exemption.
- Coverage will become effective January 1, 2015.