Rhode Island may be the smallest state on the East Coast, and yet the most densely populated for its size.
Like every other states, Rhode Island has its fair share of single mothers who barely struggle to provide basic day-to-day necessities for their children.
The state of Rhode Island provides a number of programs that make up the safety net for single mothers and their families.
The majority of those are intended to protect the families facing tough times from falling further below poverty threshold.
$Rhode Island EITC
Modeled after the federal credit, Rhode Island EITC is put in place to help reduce poverty among working families. Under current state law, low-income taxpayers with jobs can receive a credit worth 15% of the federal EITC.
A family in RI qualifying for the maximum EITC will receive an additional tax credit worth up to $940 — a significant amount for our struggling working families.
Still, the RI’s benefit is less generous than those offered by its neighboring states, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Connecticut’s refundable EITC is 27.5% of the federal credit, while Massachusetts offers 23%.
The RI Works Program offers temporary cash assistance to families with children up to age 18 as well as pregnant women. Other benefits include health coverage, child care assistance, and work-readiness for enrolled parents.
The amount of money your family receives depends on your income, household size and living arrangement. Typically, eligible families of three with no income may receive monthly cash benefits of $554 — for up to 24 months.
Because the overall goal of RI Works is to encourage families to work and become self-sufficient, single parents must work or prepare for work an average of 20 or 30 hours per week.
SNAP helps eligible single adults, couples, children and families, who may be working but are still struggling financially, to buy food and provide nutritional meals for themselves.
Eligibility is determined by certain factors, mainly your income & household size. In general, families with income less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) may qualify for SNAP benefits.
Under the new Food Access Pilot Program, eligible elderly, disabled and homeless SNAP participants can now use their EBT cards to purchase meals at participating restaurants.
CCAP helps eligible working families in Rhode Island pay for child care. It is available to families with earnings up to 180% of the federal poverty level and are working a minimum of 20 hours per week.1
Depending on their family size, income level, and number of children, families may be required to pay a co-payment — usually no more than 8% of their income.
For additional details or an application for the CCAP, please call the Department of Human Services at 1-855-697-4347. For assistance finding a provider, call BrightStars at 1-855-398-7605.
RIte Care, also known as “Medicaid”, is a federal and state funded program that pays for medical and health related services for eligible Rhode Islanders as well as families on the RI Works.
As Rhode Island is expanding Medicaid, RIte Care is now available to eligible adults age 19-64 with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). In addition, Medicaid continues to be available for low-income children, parents, and pregnant women.
Rhode Island is operating a State-Based Marketplace, known as HealthSource RI — through which you can apply for Medicaid or other private health insurance.
Children with serious disabilities, mental illness, or complex medical needs may apply for medical coverage through the Katie Beckett Program. You may request for an application from a DHS office by calling 1-855-697-4347.
Managed by Rhode Island Housing, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program helps eligible families lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords.
The program provides vouchers to very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to cover a portion of their rent. In most cases, Rhode Islanders must earn no more than 50% of HUD’s median family income.
To apply to be placed on the waiting lists, contact the local housing agency in the city or town where you live or apply online at www.waitlistcentralri.com. This site will allow you to apply for one or more waiting lists.
The RHEHA program is designed to help Rhode Island families in need of housing help. It provides cash assistance and grants to families and individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless due to a short term housing emergency.
RHEHA will give up to $1,200 to eligible people to help them pay for first month’s rent. It also offers mortgage payment assistance or security deposits.
If you need immediate assistance finding a home due to a temporary housing crisis, contact
Lisa Sanchez or Jocelyn Mata
For a $20 fee, the Office of Child Support Services will help a custodial parent pursue a legal action to establish paternity, obtain orders of child support and medical support, or enforce existing child support orders.
If you have a question about your Child Support case, the Child Support Voice Response System at (401) 458-4400 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help.
Each hospital in Rhode Island has a “charity care program.” The hospital may cover all or part of the bill for uninsured, low-income Rhode Islanders who couldn’t afford to pay.
Full coverage is limited to patients whose income is up to 200% FPL. Those with income between 200% and 300% FPL may get discounted hospital care based on a sliding scale.
To learn if you qualify, call or visit any Financial Services Office at any hospital in Rhode Island or contact the HEALTH Information Line at 1-800-942-7434.
RI Free Clinics
There are two (2) free clinics in Rhode Island for uninsured, low-income Rhode Islanders in need of health care. Both offer free primary care services and medications and some specialty services to patients with income at or below 200% of the poverty level.
- Rhode Island Free Clinic
655 Broad St.,
Providence, RI 02907
- Clinica Esperanza Hope Clinic
60 Valley St.,
Providence, RI 02909
Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded programs designed to improve the school readiness of children in low-income families. Early Head Start serves children from birth to age 3, and Head Start serves children up to 5 years old.
Most RI programs accept families with incomes at or below 100% of the federal poverty level. Some may accept families up to 130% if there is capacity. Those receiving cash assistance from the RI works is automatically income-eligible.
For more information or assistance finding a provider contact The Rhode Island Head Start Association at (401)-351-2750. Due to funding limitations, applicants may be placed on a waitlist.
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps income eligible families pay their heating bills. RIHEAP usually opens in October each year and runs through April.
Households must meet 60% of Rhode Island’s Median Income Levels which are set each program year. In some emergency situations, crisis assistance is also available to help households in immediate danger of being without heat.
Online application is not available. You must apply in person at one of 9 community action agencies listed here, each accepts applications for RIHEAP assistance.
Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary and partial wage replacement to eligible Rhode Islanders who have become unemployed through no fault of their own.
Rhode Island’s unemployment compensation is “very generous” compared with other states. In Q3 2012, unemployment insurance in Rhode Island covered 43.4% of the recipients’ previous weekly wages, more than any state except for Hawaii (52.8%).
Claims for weekly benefits may be filed online or if you wish to file your initial claim over the phone, please call (401) 243-9100.
Effective September 1, 2014, NEW claimants must post a resume to EmployRI by the 6th consecutive week of collecting UI benefits. Failure to do so will cause a delay or loss of benefits.
Rhode Island became the third state to mandate paid leave — joining California and New Jersey. The new law allows all RI employees to take up to four (4) weeks of paid leave to bond with a newborn baby or care for a seriously ill family member.
Under RI’s new Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI), eligible employees may receive up to $830 per week — not including dependency allowance for each child under age 18. This weekly “dependency allowance” is paid as the greater of $10 or 7% of the standard benefit rate.
You may apply online at TDI/TCI Online or download a paper application to complete and return to
Temporary Disability Insurance
P.O. Box 20100,
In addition, you need to provide your employer with written notice of your intent to take a leave of absence at least 30 days before the leave begins.
13Rhode Island State Grant Program
The Rhode Island State Grant Program is designed to provide non-payable grants to students residing in Rhode Island whose incomes are not sufficient to meet the costs of higher education.
Students must have a calculated financial need of at least $1000 to be eligible for a RI state award. Award amounts range from a minimum of $250 to a maximum of $500.
- Under the Transitional Child Care Pilot Program, families are allowed to maintain their eligibility as their income increases up to 225% FPL. The Transitional Child Care Pilot Program is currently set to expire on September 30, 2016.