Help for Single Mothers in CALIFORNIA

California, CA

It is not surprising that with the high cost of living in California, there is a relatively high percentage of Californians living in or near poverty. To help ease their financial burden, the “Golden State” offers several programs that are tailored to make life a little easier for them.

California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) #

California joins 31 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting a state-level EITC, commonly known as the CalEITC, to supplement the federal EITC.

California residents who earned less than $30,000 in wages or self-employment income may be eligible for CalEITC up to $3,417 depending on income and family size.

  • 0 $275
  • 1 $1,843
  • 2 $3,037
  • 3 or more $3,417

If you have a child under the age of 6, you may also qualify for a refundable tax credit of up to $1,083 through the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC).

CalEITC is fully refundable, meaning any eligible California family who owes little or no federal tax will receive the entire EITC amount as a refund.

How do I claim California EITC? #

To claim credit, you will need to file a California income tax return and complete an FTB 3514, Earned Income Tax Credit form (FTB 3514 Instructions) or file directly with CalFile for free with a MyFTB account.

San Francisco Working Families Credit #

San Francisco is also offering a local version of the federal EITC, known as the Working Families Credit (WFC). It is available for working families with children who qualify for the federal EITC and live in the city of San Francisco.

WFC applicants whom the city verifies as eligible (using data supplied by the IRS) receive a one-time credit from the city and county of San Francisco equal to a percentage of their federal EITC — up to $250 per family.

Due to limited funding, the WFC is only available to qualified applicants who have NEVER received this credit before. Those who have ever received the Working Families Credit need NOT apply.

Questions about San Francisco WFC?
Call (415) 557-6284

CalWORKs #

CalWORKs is California’s welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy California families. If a family has little or no cash and needs housing, food, utilities, clothing or medical care, they may be eligible to receive immediate short-term help.

Most will only be eligible to receive CalWORKs for a maximum of 48 countable months. There is, however, no time limit on aid for children, but in some counties children may get vouchers instead of cash.

You may apply for CalWORKs at any office located in the county where you live or online at benefitsCAL. Often, the CalWORKs application is automatically used to assess the CalFresh eligibility.

How much does CalWORKS pay per child? #

CalWORKs amount varies based on region, family size, and family income. If you have no income and you are a family of three in a high-cost county, you can expect to receive a cash assistance of $1,130 per month.

CalFresh #

CalFresh, California’s version of SNAP is the largest food program in California that provides monthly benefits to low-income households to buy the food they need to maintain adequate nutritional levels.

The program issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores — up to $740 per month for a family of three with no income.

What is the maximum income to qualify for CalFresh? #

Most families with gross income less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty level qualify for CalFresh. For a family of three, that's about $4,143 a month. There is no asset test for most households in California.

Family Size 100% 200%
1 $1,215 $2,430
2 $1,643 $3,287
3 $2,072 $4,143
4 $2,500 $5,000
5 $2,928 $5,857
6 $3,357 $6,713
7 $3,785 $7,570
8 $4,213 $8,427

Gross income limit applies to most households, except those in which at least one person is 60 years of age or older, or receives disability income.

How do I apply for CalFresh in California? #

You may apply online via or to find out how to apply for CalFresh in your county, please call the toll free number at 1-877-847-3663 (FOOD)

California Universal Meals Program #

California is the first in the country to launch a Universal Meals Program, allowing all public school students to eat breakfast and lunch for free regardless of income status.

California’s Universal Meals Program builds upon the federal School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

The main goal of this initiative is to prevent malnutrition, hunger, and food insecurity among school-age children.

Do all kids get free lunch in California? #

Before the new program was introduced, students were only given free meals if they had qualified and applied. Now, breakfast and lunch are free at all California schools — no application is required.

California Medi-Cal #

Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program. This program pays for a variety of medical services for children and adults whose financial situation would be characterized as low income or very low income.

Plan options vary depending on the county you reside in. Most counties offer commercial plans including

  1. Anthem Blue Cross,
  2. Kaiser Permanente,
  3. Health Net, and
  4. Molina.
What is the income limit for Medi-Cal in California? #

As California is expanding Medicaid coverage, Medi-Cal is no longer limited to pregnant women, children or the elderly. Now it covers almost all non-elderly adults up to 138% of poverty. Pregnant women are covered up to 213% of poverty level.

Children under the age of 19 qualify for Medi-Cal when their family has a household income of 266% or less. That's about $66,130 or less a year for a family of three.

California Medi-Cal 266% 213% 138%
1 $38,780 $31,060 $20,120
2 $52,460 $42,000 $27,210
3 $66,130 $52,950 $34,310
4 $79,800 $63,900 $41,400
5 $93,470 $74,850 $48,490
6 $107,140 $85,800 $55,590
7 $120,820 $96,740 $62,680
8 $134,490 $107,690 $69,770

A 5% disregard based on the federal poverty level (FPL) for the household size is applied and is reflected in the amounts shown above.

How do I apply for Medi-Cal? #

California is operating a State-Based Marketplace, known as Covered California — through which you can apply for Medi-Cal or other private health insurance at lower costs.

Be sure to have the necessary documents on hand before starting your application for a seamless enrollment process. Use the quick calculator to get an estimate of what you’ll pay for your plan.

American Indians and Alaska Natives who earn less than 300% of the federal poverty level for a family of four will not have to pay certain out-of-pocket costs, such as copays and deductibles, if they buy their insurance through Covered California.

California Healthy Families #

Children enrolled in the Healthy Families Program began transitioning to Medi-Cal on January 1, 2013. The change is the result of a decision by state lawmakers to merge the health care programs for children into one program.

Healthy Families Program is low cost insurance for children and teens in California. It provides health, dental and vision coverage to uninsured children who do not qualify for Medi-Cal.

There will be no new enrollments of children into the Healthy Families Program. Families with uninsured children are encouraged to apply for coverage for their children through the Medi-Cal Program.

Medi-Cal Access Program (MCAP) #

The Medi-Cal Access Program (MCAP), is a state program that provides low-cost health insurance for the uninsured, middle-income pregnant women who are not eligible for no-cost Medi-Cal or traditional health insurance.

MCAP provides pregnant women with comprehensive coverage for a low cost with no copayments or deductibles for its covered services.

Application is available through Covered California. If you qualify for MCAP, your baby is automatically eligible for coverage for up to two years.

For additional info, call Medi-Cal Access Program (MCAP)

Medi-Cal Dental Program #

Dental services for adults and children are currently provided as one of the many benefits under the Medi-Cal program. This includes the fee-for-service program — known as Denti-Cal, as well as dental managed care programs.

It covers a variety of services such as: diagnostic and preventive dental hygiene (e.g. examinations, x-rays, and teeth cleanings) as well as emergency services for pain control.

To find a Medi-Cal dentist in your area, call
(800) 423-0507

Cal-Learn #

Cal-Learn is a mandatory program for pregnant and parenting teens receiving CalWORKs, under 19 years of age, to attend and graduate from high school or its equivalent.

Assistance may also come in the form of child care, transportation, educational expenses and other support services, including reward incentives for academic performance.

Incentives range from $100 to $500 will be awarded when the participant graduates from high school, passes the GED exam, or receives passing grades on a school report card.

How do I apply for Cal-Learn? #

Pregnant or parenting teens may apply for Cal-Learn services at a county social services agency office located in the county where they live.

Once in Cal-Learn you will get a case manager who will help you develop a plan to finish high school or earn a GED.

California Special Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC) #

California WIC helps families with special checks for buying healthy supplemental foods from WIC-authorized vendors, nutrition education, and help finding healthcare and other community services.

Participants must meet income guidelines and be pregnant women, new mothers, infants or children under age five and individually determined by a health professional to be “at nutritional risk”.

WIC services include but are not limited to:

  • Prenatal nutrition
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Healthy eating tips for your family
  • Nutritious recipes, plus much more

To qualify for WIC, you must be a resident of the state of California with income not exceeding 185% of the national poverty level. That's about $3,833 a month for a family of three.

  • Family Size Income Limit
  • 1 $2,248
  • 2 $3,040
  • 3 $3,833
  • 4 $4,625
  • 5 $5,418
  • 6 $6,210
  • 7 $7,003
  • 8 $7,795
How do I apply for WIC in California? #

Use the WIC eligibility assessment tool on WIC mobile to see if you qualify for WIC benefits or set up an appointment at a WIC local agency near you!

CalWORKs Child Care #

Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) in California offers several financial assistance, or subsidy, programs to qualifying families who need help paying for child care.

Families that qualify for the program can choose their own child care provider. The CCRC will reimburse child care providers up to a certain amount.

The CalWORKs Child Care program in California is administered in three different stages — each with its own set of eligibility criteria.

Stage 1 Child Care #

Stage 1 child care is available to CalWORKs families when they first become employed or engaged Welfare-to-Work activities.

Each family may be served for up to six months or until the family is stable.

Stage 2 Child Care #

Parents may be eligible for Stage 2 child care while they are receiving CalWORKs cash assistance, and for up to 24 months.

Stage 3 Child Care #

Stage 3 is available only to families who have received Stage 1 or 2 child care for 24 months after leaving CalWORKs cash assistance, and thus have “timed out” of Stage 2 benefits.

Families remain in Stage 3 until the family’s income exceeds 85% of the State Median Income (SMI) or until the children are over the eligibility age.

How do I apply for child care assistance in California?

Current CalWORKs recipients are eligible to receive assistance with paying for child care with a provider of their choice or if they are employed or participating in county approved Welfare-to-Work activities.

If you are not receiving CalWORKs cash assistance and need help paying for child care, please contact the Social Services Agency in your county to apply.

California Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) #

California LIHEAP helps eligible low-income households throughout the state with their utility bills, particularly those with the lowest incomes and the highest home energy costs.

Eligible households may receive one regular LIHEAP benefit each year to help pay for the cost of heating or cooling their homes during the summer months.

How much does LIHEAP pay in California? #
  • Cooling Assistance $781
  • Heating Assistance $1,500
  • Crisis Assistance $3,000
How do I apply for LIHEAP in California? #

When the LIHEAP season is open, you may apply online or in person at a local service provider in your area. 9 Due to limited funding, applicants are prioritized based on greatest need.

You may also be eligible for Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) if you are in danger of running out of fuel or having your utility service shut off in less than 48 hours.

California Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) #

For a limited time, California LIHWAP provides water and wastewater assistance to eligible households with a one-time payment toward their water or wastewater bill — up to $15,000 for bills accrued during any time frame.

Households facing the threat of disconnection, or those that have already been disconnected, may be eligible for LIHWAP. Priority is given to households with the elderly, disabled or a young child under age 6.

How do I get help paying my water bill in California? #

If you are struggling to afford your water or wastewater bills, please visit Paying My Water Bills​​ to see if you qualify for payment assistance through LIHWAP. The program will run through August 31, 2023 or until funds are fully exhausted.

Customer Assistance Program (CAP) #

If you live in a low-income household or are enrolled in a qualified public assistance program, you may qualify for a monthly discount on your water bill through CAP.

If you have questions about Customer Assistance Program (CAP), call toll-free (877) 419-1701.

California Unemployment Insurance #

California Unemployment Insurance (UI) provides temporary financial assistance to workers unemployed through no fault of their own.

In California, unemployment benefits typically last for up to 26 weeks, unless otherwise extended during periods of high unemployment.

In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have worked in the past 12 to 18 months, and have earned

  1. at least $1,300 during the highest paid quarter of the base period or
  2. a minimum of $900 in your highest quarter and earned total base period earnings of at least 1.25 times the high quarter earnings.
How much is unemployment insurance in California? #

How much is unemployment per week in CA largely depends on the wages you earned in the base period of your claim, which can range from $40 to $450 per week.

How do I claim my weeks for unemployment in California? #

You can apply for UI or reopen a UI claim online using UI Online or if you wish to file your claim over the phone, please call UI Self-Service Phone Line at 1-866-333-4606.

Starting July 11, 2021, if you are on unemployment, you are expected to search for work to maintain your eligibility for benefits.

California Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program #

California leads the nation as the first to provide paid leave benefits for employees who need to “take time off” to bond with a newborn baby or provide care for a seriously ill family member.

Beginning July 1, 2014, PFL will cover caregiving for a seriously ill parent, spouse, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law.

Under California’s Paid Family Leave, eligible employees may take up to 8 weeks of paid leave to be with their families. The weekly benefits range from $50 to a maximum of $1,620 but usually no more than 70% of their weekly earnings.

How do I apply for Paid Family Leave in California? #

To apply for PFL benefits, you must complete and submit a Claim for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits or use SDI Online instead of submitting the form by mail.

All claims must be completed and submitted no earlier than the first day your family leave begins but no later than 41 days after your first day of leave.

Cal Grant #

Cal Grant is a need-based grant that have helped many low-income Californians fund their college education. It’s a free money for college you don’t have to pay back.

There are three kinds of Cal Grants — A, B and C — but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for as eligibility will be based on your FAFSA and choice of school.

To apply for a Cal Grant, you must complete and submit two forms: the FAFSA and the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form no later than March 2 each year.

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