Today it isn’t usual for women, especially single mothers, to juggle multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
And yet their meager income, most likely from low-wage job without benefits, is barely enough to support their families.
Washington isn’t turning a blind eye to the plight of single mothers and other lower income families.
A good number of support programs are made available to help these families ease their financial burden during times of hardship and become self-reliant.
WorkFirst is Washington’s welfare reform program that helps low-income people and families find jobs, keep their jobs, find better jobs, and become self-sufficient.
Under WorkFirst, welfare assistance is no longer an entitlement. Those receiving cash benefits are required by law to participate in the WorkFirst program or actively search for a job, unless otherwise exempt.
Those who are eligible for WorkFirst program but do not need ongoing monthly cash assistance may apply for Diversion Cash Assistance which is an emergency assistance, up to $1,250, for those facing a temporary financial crisis.
Basic Food is Washington’s name for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
It helps low-income individuals and families in Washington obtain a more nutritious diet by supplementing their income with “Basic Food” benefits.
The average monthly benefit amount for a family of three in Washington is $345.1 The lowest monthly benefit for a household of one or two persons is $16.
Washington WIC provides nutrient-rich foods, health screening, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals to other health and social services to families who qualify.
Women, infants, and children in Washington whose gross income falls below certain limits are eligible for $50 worth of healthy foods each month.
To be fully eligible for the program, applicants must be determined by a health professional to be at “nutritional risks”. Call the Family Health Hotline 1-800-322-2588 for assistance.
Apple Health serves needy individuals and families in Washington who lack adequate resources to pay for medical care. It is also an important source of aid for elderly people in nursing homes.
Eligible participants are low-income families with children, pregnant women, and people who are aged, blind, or who have disabilities. Under Medicaid expansion, coverage will be available to all adults age 19-65 whose incomes fall below 138% of the federal poverty level.2
Washington is operating a State-Based Marketplace, known as WA Healthplanfinder — the official place where all uninsured Washington residents will be able to shop for health coverage.
Apple Health for Kids is a health insurance program for children up to age 19 in Washington who are not eligible for Medicaid and who are uninsured. It covers major medical with special preventive benefits for children, including dental coverage.
Apple Health for Kids is free for all children in families with monthly income up to $3,464 for a single mother of two. Families above that level, may have to pay a small premium for coverage.
Washington is one of a few states that have a law that requires all hospitals to provide free inpatient and outpatient care to very low income and/or uninsured patients.
Patients with incomes less than or equal to 100% FPL may receive free hospital care. Those with incomes between 100% and 200% FPL are eligible for discounted hospital care based on a sliding scale.
If you think you’re eligible, ask hospital staff for a Charity Care application and for their “Charity Care Policy” when you are first admitted to the hospital, or as soon as possible after that.
WCCC helps low-income families in Washington pay for child care while they work or meet WA WorkFirst participation requirements. Eligibility is based on income level and family size.
Families that qualify for the WCCCC program can choose their own child care provider. The state pays a portion of the cost of child care; while the parent is responsible to pay a co-payment to the provider each month.
To find out if your family is eligible, call the DSHS Customer Service Call Center at 1-877-501-2233. After you complete the application process, DSHS will tell you within 30 days if you qualify for assistance.
LIHEAP assists eligible low-income households in Washington in meeting their immediate home energy needs.3 If eligible, households receive a one-time credit deposited directly into their utility accounts.
The program is designed to help these families keep their heat on, especially those households that are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, the disabled, and households with young children.
Washington Telephone Assistance Program (WTAP)
The WTAP provides low-income individuals a local, telephone landline for $8.00 a month. WTAP also pays for some or all of the connection fee. For more information, please call the Utilities & Transportation Commission (UTC) at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).
Unemployment insurance helps eligible workers who lost their job through no fault of their own by temporarily replacing part of their wages — for up to 26 weeks.
In Washington, weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum of $151 to a maximum of $681. As a condition of eligibility, you are required to actively seek suitable employment each week that you’re filing for benefits.
If you live in Washington State, you may choose to file a new claim either online or over the phone by calling 1-800-318-6022 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Washington is now among a handful of states that guarantee paid family leave. It is designed to provide partial wage replacement for pregnancy-related leaves as well as for bonding with a new child.
Washington’s is among the most generous of the bunch, covering at least 12 weeks of paid leave, plus another two for complicated pregnancies.4
Weekly benefits are calculated based on a percentage of the employee’s wages and the state’s weekly average wage — up to 90% of their income but no more than $1,000 a week.
The State Need Grant (SNG) program provides need-based financial aid to lowest-income students pursuing postsecondary education. Amounts vary by the type of school enrolled, and range from $2,823 to $9,553.
To be eligible for the grant, applicants must have a household income that is less than 70% of the state’s median household income (MFI), while those with incomes below 50% of MFI will get the maximum award.
Completing the FAFSA is the first step of the application process. If you can’t fill out the FAFSA due to immigration status, you can apply by submitting the WASFA.
The Opportunity Grant is designed to help low-income adults in Washington pay for post-secondary education that will lead to higher wages in high-demand careers.
Applicants must demonstrate substantial financial need, as determined by the WAFSA,5 and have income not exceeding 200% of the federal poverty level.
If you qualify, you may receive funding for up to 45 credits of tuition — about $4000 and up to $1,000 per year for books and supplies. You may also get emergency child care, tutoring, and career advice.
- The average monthly benefit families received in 2010 was about $245.
- $15,856 for one person; $21,404 for a family of two; $26,951 for a family of three; $32,499 for a family of four.
- The income limits are set at 125% of the federal poverty level (FPL)
- The Seattle Times, Washington’s new family-leave law is among the most generous in the nation
- Washington Application for State Financial Aid