Financial Help for Single Mothers in Pennsylvania


Single mothers rarely achieve financial independence they desire. Beset by life’s burdens, they face serious barriers to achieving self-sufficiency for their families.

The state of Pennsylvania recognizes the fact that these women need all the help they can get.

And for this reason, programs are made available to reach out to these families.

From food, child care to medical assistance, Pennsylvania hopes to ease their financial burden during times of hardship.


1Pennsylvania Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)


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.


2Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (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 $640 for a family of four.2

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.


3Pennsylvania Special Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)


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.


4Pennsylvania Medicaid Program


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, 2014.3 As a result, Medicaid now covers nearly all uninsured Pennsylvanians age 19-64 with income up to 138% of FPL.


5Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program


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.

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.

In Pennsylvania, children with family income up to 319% of poverty or about $63,100 for a single mother of two are already eligible for CHIP or Medicaid.


6Pennsylvania SelectPlan for Women


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.

You must be a Pennsylvania resident who meets income guidelines — say, a single mother of two with a monthly income of less than $3,530, 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.


7Pennsylvania Child Care Works


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 $39,600 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.


8Pennsylvania Head Start


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.


9Pennsylvania 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 supplemental income while you are looking for a new job, up to a maximum of 26 full weeks in a one-year period.

For those who file a new claim on or after January 6, 2013, the maximum weekly benefit rate will be $573. The minimum benefit payable is $70 per 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.


10Pennsylvania State Grant Program


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.


  1. Single mothers caring for a child under one year of age are eligible for work exemption. []
  2. The average monthly benefit in 2014 was $240 per household. Source: FindTheData []
  3. Coverage will become effective January 1, 2015. []