Grants, Assistance & Benefit Programs For Single Parents

American single parents face many challenges. Many struggle to balance childcare and work, and are unable to work a full schedule because of the demands of parenthood. Quality childcare may be unaffordable or impossible to find.

A 2012 study by the University of Illinois concluded that 28% of American children live with one parent, that 4.6 million single parents live below the poverty line and that only 15.1% of the single parents living in poverty had full-time employment.[1] Millions of single parents are forced into marginal situations, balancing part-time or occasional work with childcare, and as a result, millions of children grow up facing series economic stress.

The impact of poverty on single parents extends beyond just financial difficulties. While struggles paying for food, clothes, transportation, and housing are common issues for single parents, the emotional toll can be extreme. Research shows that low-income parents, and in particular, single mothers, suffer from depression[2] at far higher rates than other parents. This risk places additional economic and social stress on single-parent families.

Government grants and assistance programs exist to help single parents deal with the tremendous difficulties that come with surviving poverty, with some that even are in place to help single parents move out of a state of poverty. Unfortunately, the vast majority of single-parent focused grant and assistance programs are specifically for single mothers. However, single fathers can benefit from many available programs as well.

Housing Assistance for Single Parents
Single parents may find some support specifically for housing needs.

The YWCA Transitional Housing Program is a program that can benefit single mothers. The YWCA transitional housing program is designed to provide financial assistance to homeless single mothers. The program helps keep homeless single mothers and their children off the streets and into adequate housing with some financial assistance for other needs.

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is an option for single parents. Although the Section 8 Housing Voucher program is not designed specifically for single parents, it is the best option for single parents who are struggling to pay rent. The federal government provides access to this program through vouchers given directly to participating property owners or apartment rental agencies. The rent reduction is often 50% or more in many cases.

The Family Unification Program (FUP) offers options for low-income families. Those families who are without a home may also find benefit from the Family Unification Program. FUP gives homeless families top priority for free housing. The point of FUP is to help keep families together, which is all the more important for single parent families.

Food and Nutrition Assistance for Single Parents
While few food aid programs exist for single parents alone, single parent households can benefit from some government programs for food aid.

The Women, Infants and Children Program or WIC is a vital program for low-income single mothers and low-income families in general where the cost of food is difficult to meet. WIC is designed to help end and prevent malnutrition in children from an early age. The program focuses on pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and women who have small children. The program will provide food aid for women who are married as well.

Single parents may also benefit from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as “food stamps.” This program allows families to use a government-provided debit card to purchase healthy food choices at local grocery stores and other places that sell food. The program is one of the largest and one of the easiest programs for single parents to access.

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) may aid many families. Single parents should be aware of school lunch programs. These programs are administered by the federal government and states to provide low-income families and their children with free and reduced meals. Children of single parents can receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch during the school year and in some cases receive this food aid during the summer as well.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) offers help to single parents. Single parents who find themselves in an emergency may be able to access food aid through the TEFAP program. Serving all low-income individuals and families, TEFAP satisfies emergency food needs for Americans in desperate need.

Health Care Assistance for Single Parents
Healthcare is essential, but expensive in the US. There are several key programs available that single parents can use.

Medicaid is a healthcare program specifically designed for low-income families and individuals. Single parents should investigate their Medicaid options first, as this is the key program available for low-income families.

Expanded Medicaid is an option in some states. Participating states extend Medicaid coverage for families 133% below the poverty line. 31 states and the District of Columbia offer this program.

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Single parents should also investigate their options under the CHIP program. CHIP is designed to expand the healthcare options for low-income parents with children, offering health insurance specifically covering children. CHIP serves families who may earn too much money for Medicaid coverage, but for whom healthcare costs are still too high with children to cover.

Job Assistance for Single Parents
Some programs provide assistance for single parents in need of work and job training.

Goodwill offers support for single mothers. The organization helps single mothers find financial independence through job acquisition and job training programs.

Other Financial Assistance Programs
Additional financial assistance opportunities exist that single parents can use for financial assistance for varying situations.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is very selective, but a boon to needy single parents who can access it. TANF provides financial assistance that helps keep families off the streets, in their homes, and provides the financial security needed to get a restart on life. TANF is designed to keep families from relying on welfare, instead of helping families find financial security. You can use TANF assistance for all of your family's needs.

Local Charities
If you are a single parent struggling to make ends meet, seek out assistance from local charities. Many charities offer assistance to single parents but may not advertise their services online or in the community. Consider seeking assistance from local churches and other organizations that routinely provide aid to members of the community.

Any single parent can find grants, assistance and benefit programs to fit their needs. Being a single parent is not unusual or exceptional, and it's certainly no reason to be ashamed.

Contact Links
You can get in touch with the agencies listed in this article through the following links:

YWCA Transitional Housing
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
Family Unification Program (FUP)
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
The School Breakfast Program (SBP)
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)