All across the nation, families are struggling to get ahead, especially so for single mothers in low-income families who are living paycheck to paycheck.
Too often, they have to make difficult choices between buying food, paying rent, or providing medical care for their children.
To make life a little easier, the state of Wisconsin is taking positive steps to provide assistance programs that ease their financial burdens.
From food and cash assistance to child care and medical benefits, these programs aim to alleviate the plight of single mothers by providing the much needed support.
Wisconsin is one of 26 states that offer a supplemental state credit targeted at working families with at least one dependent child. Families with children who claim the federal EITC are automatically eligible for the Wisconsin’s EIC.
Wisconsin’s Earned Income Credit is fully refundable and is set at the percentage of the federal credit, depending on how many children the family has, at tax time.
|NO. of CHILDREN||% of FEDERAL CREDIT|
|0||No Credit Available|
|3 or more||34%|
Wisconsin’s credit is among the highest in the nation for families with three or more children but among the lowest for parents with one child. No credit is offered to Wisconsinites without children.
W-2 is one of Wisconsin’s time-limited work-based programs available to low-income parents and pregnant women who meet eligibility requirements and who are willing to work to their ability.
The primary goal of the Wisconsin Works (W-2) is self sufficiency. The program offers W-2 participants cash payments of up to $653 per month for participating in job training and employment programs.
In order to qualify for W-2, you must be a resident of Wisconsin, either pregnant or be responsible for a child under 19 years of age. Parents with children whose family income is below 115% of the poverty level are eligible.
If your children don’t live with you, Wisconsin offers Noncustodial Parent Services to help low-income noncustodial parents become self-sufficient and able to pay child support.1
Under the Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) program, Wisconsin also provides temporary cash assistance to refugees during their first eight months in the United States.
If a refugee family has children under the age of 18, they may be eligible for Wisconsin Works (W-2) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, if they are aged, blind, or disabled.
FoodShare Wisconsin provides monthly benefits to families with limited income to help pay for the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet. Benefit levels vary widely — a family of three in Wisconsin now average a little more than $340 per month.
Anyone is eligible but the program is designed to help those who need food assistance most. Single mothers living on small or fixed income, the elderly, people with disabilities are given highest priority.
If you are accepted into the program, your FoodShare benefits are automatically deposited to your Wisconsin QUEST Card account on the same day of each month you are eligible.
Wisconsin’s Child Care Subsidy program — known as Wisconsin Shares, helps low-income working families pay for child care. If the parent is eligible, child care can be subsidized for children under the age of 13 (up to 19 if special needs).
The program pays for part of the child care costs, and the remaining cost is co-paid by the parent. The co-payment can be as low as 2% of the family’s gross income.
WIC provides supplemental foods, nutrition education and referrals to health care, at no cost, to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5.
To be eligible, you must be a resident of the state of Wisconsin with a household income not exceeding 185% of the federal poverty level; and be individually determined to be at nutritional risk by a health professional.
To find out more about WIC and other programs for which you may be eligible, call toll-free 1-800-722-2295, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
BadgerCare Plus offers free or low-cost health care coverage to eligible children and families in Wisconsin as well as pregnant women. It is designed for people who do not currently have access to health insurance.
BadgerCare Plus covers adults with incomes at or below 95% of the federal poverty threshold — or about $19,000 for a family of three and up to 300% FPL for pregnant women and children under the age of 19.
Among the 19 states not expanding Medicaid coverage, Wisconsin is the only state that provides full Medicaid coverage to parents and adults without dependent children with incomes at or above poverty.
The WHEDA2 Section 8 Voucher Program helps Wisconsin families with very low to extremely low incomes rent decent, safe, and affordable housing of their choice.
Eligible families pay between 30-40% of their income for rent. The balance is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
WHEDA does not distribute vouchers or accept applications in their office. All applications are handled by the appointed agencies. Please refer to the agent list here.
7Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP)
The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) provides assistance to low-income households across the state to help lower the burden incurred with monthly energy costs.
WHEAP assistance is a one-time payment during the heating season (October 1—May 15) that pays a portion of the heating costs — the amount of which varies depending on the household’s size, income, and energy costs.
In addition to regular heating and electric assistance, specialized services include:
- Emergency fuel assistance,
- Counseling for energy conservation and energy budgets,
- Pro-active co payment plans,
- Targeted outreach services,
- Emergency furnace repair and replacement.
To be eligible for WHEAP, the household income must not exceed 60% of the median income in the state. Application is made through the local WHEAP agency.
For more information on how to apply
Call 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947)
Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary financial assistance to workers unemployed through no fault of their own. It is intended to provide a safety net to eligible workers and their families during times of unemployment.
As a condition of eligibility, you are required to register with Job Center of Wisconsin and actively seek suitable employment each week that you are collecting benefits.
The Talent Incentive Program (TIP) Grant provides grant assistance to the most financially needy and educationally disadvantaged Wisconsin resident students attending colleges and universities in the State of Wisconsin.
Initial awards to first-time freshman students range from $600 to $1,800 per year and are awarded on a first come first served basis until funds are depleted.
Wisconsin Tuition Grant (WTG) provides grant assistance — up to $3000, to undergraduate, Wisconsin residents attending a non-profit college or university in Wisconsin.
To be considered for this grant, you must complete the FAFSA each year by April 1st. Selection is based upon financial need with a limit of 10 semesters of eligibility.
- I am a parent, but my children don’t live with me. What services are available for me? Wisconsin Noncustodial Parent Services
- WHEDA = Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority