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Help for single moms in Illinois

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If you’re a single mom in Illinois struggling to make ends meet, keep reading for resources that help with:

We also put together resources specifically for:

Statistically, families benefit most with cash assistance (vs through benefits programs).1 Here is our guide to single mom grant programs, including our own.

Every month, I give out $500 cash to one single mom struggling with money, health, stress, child care, illness or loneliness — no strings attached. 

Qualifications are simple:

1. You're a single mom.

2. You need the money right now.

Fill out this form to apply:

(Note that the figures and information in this post are current as of publication date.)

Many of the programs on this list determine eligibility as a percentage of the federal poverty level (FPL). These are the 2024 federal poverty guidelines:

Number of people in family/householdAnnual income

* For families/households with more than 8 people, add $5,380 for each additional person.

You can also look up your area median income (AMI) here.

Emergency cash for low-income families in Illinois

If you need cash to pay bills, buy gas, feed your family, or for any other reason, these programs can help: 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in Illinois

Illinois’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash assistance for qualifying families with children to help with: 

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Other basic needs (not medical)

Cash assistance is available for a lifetime total of 60 months for parents/caregivers and their children (which includes assistance received in other states). However, there are some exceptions related to medical conditions, pending social security applications, and education that allow you to receive benefits for a longer amount of time.

If you care for children who aren’t your own, you can still get cash for just the children after the 60 months.

These are the payouts for Illinois’s monthly TANF cash assistance program: 

Number of ChildrenPayout for Adult and ChildrenPayout for Children Only
4$694 $521

Illinois notes that 75% of TANF payments must be allocated for child-benefiting spending only.

TANF in Illinois also provides GED preparation, vocational training, postsecondary education, vocational rehabilitation, classes in basic English, help with child care, work stipends, job retention services, and screenings for substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence.


  • Must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen
  • Illinois resident
  • Have children under 18 or under 19 if still enrolled in high school
  • Pregnant women with or without children
  • Children and mother must have social security numbers
  • Children must have birth certificates to prove relationship to mother or caregiver
  • Monthly countable income must be less than the payout amount 
  • Must pursue child support enforcement, have child support in place, or have good cause for refusing child support 
  • Create a Responsibility and Services Plan (RSP)

If you are a single parent who is able to work and your youngest child is under age 6, you must work or participate in a work activity for at least 20 hours per week. If your youngest child is 6 or older, you must work at least 30 hours per week.

How to get help:


More emergency cash help in Illinois: 

Single moms in Illinois can visit or dial 2-1-1 to ask for assistance.

Check out these posts for more ways to get emergency cash: 

These are some more tips for getting cash quickly: 

Housing help for single moms in Illinois

If you need help finding a place to live or paying your rent/mortgage, these programs can help: 

Rental assistance in Illinois

There are multiple programs in Illinois to help renters find housing and pay their rent:

Illinois Rental Assistance Program 

As part of Illinois’s Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance (ERA) programs, the Department of Human Services partners with community-based agencies to provide up to $25,000 in annual rental assistance per household. 


  • Must have no active or pending eviction court proceedings 
  • Illinois resident
  • Proof of hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Household income does not exceed 80% of the AMI 
  • Must not receive other ERA benefits from Illinois Housing Development Authority, country program, or city of Chicago program

Proof of citizenship is not required to qualify. The program gives priority to people whose household earns less than 50% of the AMI or who have been unemployed for 90 days.

How to get help: 

Illinois Court-Based Rental Assistance Program

CBRAP — the Illinois Court-Based Rental Assistance Program — is supported by the Illinois Housing Development Authority and provides emergency rental payments to tenants or landlords with pending eviction court cases. 

CBRAP can provide up to $25,000 in rental payments to help prevent eviction, which can go toward 15 months of past-due rent and 3 months of future rent. 


  • Must be in a court eviction proceeding for unpaid rent
  • Illinois resident renting outside of Cook County
  • Household income does not exceed 80% of the AMI
  • Proof of hardship during COVID-19 pandemic

The program gives priority to people whose household earns less than 50% of the AMI or who have been unemployed for 90 days.  

Cook County has its own court-based rental assistance program called Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD). 

How to get help: 

Public Housing and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers affordable housing and vouchers to help low-income households pay their rent.


Vouchers and housing are based on household income and family size. You can find your county’s income limits on the HUD website

How to get help: 

Contact your local public housing agency and ask how to apply for assistance.

Mortgage assistance in Illinois

If you need help buying a home in Illinois, these programs can help: 

Illinois Housing Development Authority down payment assistance programs

Illinois Housing Development Authority helps with down payment and closing costs in the form of a second mortgage loan. 

These loans must be combined with applicable IHDA 30-year fixed rate mortgages, including conventional, VA loan, FHA, or USDA loan types. You can apply for these mortgages through a participating IHDA lender.  

Each county sets income and purchase price limits based on your household size that help determine your eligibility for down payment assistance programs. Your lender can help you determine whether you qualify and which of the four different down payment assistance programs you should apply for:

Opening Doors (Abriendo Puertas) 
  • $6,000 towardsin down payment and/or closing cost assistance
  • 0% interest second mortgage 
  • No monthly payments and loan forgiven after 5 years* 
Access Forgivable Mortgage Down Payment Assistance Program
  • 4% of the purchase price up to $6,000 in assistance for down payment and/or closing costs
  • 0% interest second mortgage 
  • No monthly payments and loan forgiven after 10 years* 
Access Deferred Mortgage Down Payment Assistance Program
  • 5% of the purchase price up to $7,500 in assistance for down payment and/or closing costs 
  • 0% interest second deferred mortgage
  • Payment is deferred unless you sell, refinance your first mortgage, or reach 30 years.
  • Not forgivable
Access Repayable 
  • 10% of the purchase price up to $10,000 in assistance for down payment and/or closing costs 
  • 0% interest second mortgage
  • Monthly payments must be paid over a 10-year period
  • Not forgivable

*If you sell your home or refinance your first mortgage prior to the forgiveness period, you will have to repay the training unforgiven balance.


These loans are not available as standalone assistance but in conjunction with IDHA mortgage programs. Other qualifications include: 

  • First-time or current homebuyers
  • Contribute $1,000 or 1% of the purchase price (whichever is greater)
  • Debt to income ratio is 45% or lower
  • Meet your county’s income and purchase price limits
  • Credit score of at least 640
  • Must live in the home as primary residence
  • Go through their education program 

How to get help: 

Check today's mortgage loan rates >>

Illinois Emergency Homeowner Assistance Fund 

The ILHAF is a federally funded program that offers up to $60,000 to pay past-due mortgage payments and other homeowner-related payments like:

  • Past-due property taxes
  • Past-due homeowner’s insurance and/or flood insurance
  • Past-due Homeowner/Condominium/Co-Op Association fees
  • Past-due mobile home lot rent
  • Mortgage reinstatement costs
  • Costs related to a period of forbearance during the COVID-19 pandemic


  • At risk of default, foreclosure, or displacement 
  • Household income is less than 150% of AMI
  • Own and occupy the property as primary residence
  • Past due on mortgage or property tax payments
  • Proof of financial hardship related to COVID-19 pandemic 

How to get help: 

Homeless assistance in Illinois

Homeless Prevention Program

The Illinois Department of Human Services created the Homeless Prevention Program to help prevent Illinois residents from becoming homeless if they are facing eviction, foreclosure, or other risks of homelessness. The program also helps residents who are currently homeless find affordable housing. 

Continuum of Care agencies across the state offer homeless prevention services for IDHS, including:

  • Rental or mortgage payment assistance
  • Utility payment assistance
  • Security deposit payment assistance
  • Housing location and inspection services
  • Job preparation and employment services
  • Counseling


Requirements may vary depending on individual Continuum of Care agencies, but general qualification include:

  • Immediate danger of eviction, foreclosure or homelessness
  • Currently homeless
  • Documentation that proves a temporary economic crisis beyond your control 
  • Must demonstrate an ability to pay rent and utilities after assistance

How to get help: 

Emergency and Transitional Housing Program

The Illinois Department on Human Services also offers a program to help those at risk of homelessness find emergency or transitional housing. This program funds local nonprofit organizations and local governments to help provide services like:

  • Meals
  • Counseling
  • Transportation
  • Abuse intervention
  • Housing in overnight shelters for less than 12 hours
  • Housing in transitional shelters up to 2 years
  • Voucher shelter provided by hotels and motels


You must live in Illinois and be at risk of becoming homeless or are already homeless.

How to get help: 

Call or visit your local Emergency and Transitional Housing Provider.

More housing help: 

Transportation help for low-income families in Illinois

You may be eligible for these transportation programs that serve low-income Illinois families:

Free and low-cost transportation

These free and low-cost transportation resources can help you and your family get to where they need to go in Illinois:

Medicaid transportation

Single moms and their children who are on Medicaid or All Kids insurance may receive free transportation to and from medical appointments if they don’t have reliable transportation of their own. These rides must be scheduled ahead of time through the family’s care coordinator.


  • Medicaid or All Kids recipient

How to get help:

  • Contact your Medicaid or All Kids care coordinator

Illinois public transit

Illinois has 63 public transit providers across the state. The following systems are free or low-cost options.

Central Illinois Public Transit

  • Covers: Christian, Clay, Effingham, Fayette, Montgomery, Moultrie, and Shelby counties
  • Offers: Free rides for children up to 5, children 6-12 have a discounted $2 fare

Chicago Transit Authority

  • Covers: Chicago metro area
  • Offers: Free rides for children 7 and under, $0.75 fares for students, reduced fares ($1.10+) for children 7-11


  • Covers: Peoria
  • Offers: Children 54” or less ride free, students ride for $0.50

Connect Transit

  • Covers: Bloomington
  • Offers: Free fares for children 5 and under with a paying adult

Danville Mass Transit

  • Covers: Danville
  • Offers: Free transfers, free fare for children under 46”, $0.50 fare for children over 46” through middle school

Decatur Public Transit System

  • Covers: Decatur
  • Offers: Free fares for children 5 and under, $0.80 fares for older children

Effingham County Public Transportation

  • Covers: Effingham County
  • Offers: Children 0-5 ride free with an adult, and children 6-12 have a discounted fare of $2

Jackson County Mass Transit

  • Covers: Jackson County
  • Offers: Free fares to children 0-5; $1 fares for children 6-14


  • Covers: Rock Island and Moline
  • Offers: Free fares for children under 5, children and college students traveling to and from school, and people with disabilities; children 5-15 ride for $0.50

New Trier Township Taxi Service

  • Covers: New Trier Township
  • Offers: Free rides 24/7 to participants in New Trier’s food bank or residents with disabilities

Niles Free Bus

  • Covers: Niles
  • Offers: Free rides through Niles from 9:30 AM to 4:40 PM every day of the week


  • Covers: Cook, Will, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties
  • Offers: Free fare for children under 7 and $1 fare for older children

Quincy Transit

  • Covers: Quincy
  • Offers: Free rides for children 1-4, $0.25 fares for school-age children, $0.50 regular fare

RIDES Mass Transit District

  • Covers: Champaign-Urbana area
  • Offers: $1 general fare, students can ride free with a student pass, and children 46” or shorter ride free with an adult

River Valley Metro

  • Covers: Kankakee County
  • Offers: Children 5 and under ride free, reduced fare of $0.50 for students and people with disabilities, free rides for people with disabilities who qualify for the Benefit Access Program

Sangamon Mass Transit District

  • Covers: Springfield
  • Offers: Five and under ride free, $0.60 fare for children 6-12

South Central Transit

  • Covers: Washington, Marion, Jefferson, Clinton, Franklin, and Perry counties
  • Offers: Children 4 and under ride free with a paying adult

Illinois transportation providers

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) maintains a published map of all public transit providers within the state and the areas they cover. You can view the map on IDOT’s Transit System page.

Vehicle donation and car repair help in Illinois

These programs provide financial assistance for car repairs or free car repairs and vehicles for needy families in Illinois:

Supportive Service Payments

Illinois offers Supportive Service Payments to people enrolled in the state’s SNAP program. These are one-time payments providing temporary financial assistance to help a recipient continue participating in the program by helping them get to work or continue training for a job.

The program allows up to $1,400 per year in payments toward repairs on a vehicle needed for a recipient to get to work. Recipients need to provide two written estimates of the cost of repairs to receive a payment.


  • SNAP participant in Illinois

How to get help:

  • Call 800-843-6154
  • Contact your SNAP caseworker

New Life Car Care

New Life Car Care is a charitable auto repair shop providing free or affordable car repairs to single moms and people with disabilities in Illinois. The company also holds free car maintenance classes and donates vehicles to families in need. New Life Car Care is supported by community and business donations. Repairs and maintenance services include, but are not limited to, oil changes, brake repairs, tune-ups, and fuel pump repairs. 

How to get help:

Free cars in Illinois

This charity offers free cars to qualified applicants in Illinois:

Free Charity Cars 

Free Charity Cars awards free vehicles to selected applicants in all 50 states. The nonprofit charity group has been awarding free vehicles to low-income American families since 1996 and has gifted more than 9,000 cars. The charity group notes that they do not have an inventory of vehicles readily available as they award cars as soon as they get them, so there can be extensive waiting periods for those selected for the free car program. 


  • Be a resident of the U.S.
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Have a genuine need for a vehicle 
  • Have access to a Computer and Internet Service
  • Sign up for an online account 
  • Complete an online application for a vehicle
  • Have the financial means to pay for the fees, including the tag, title, emissions, insurance, etc.,
  • Take financial responsibility for maintaining insurance and upkeep on the vehicle if awarded 

How to get help:

Electric bill assistance in Illinois

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills in Illinois, check out the following programs:

Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) in Illinois

LIHEAP helps qualifying households pay for heating, gas, propane, and electricity. This service is supported by federal funds allocated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).


  • Resident of Illinois
  • Rent must be greater than 30% of your income if heat and/or electric are included  
  • Total income at or below 200% of FPL 30 days before application
Family Size30-Day IncomeAnnual Income 
2$3,052 $36,620
4$$4,625 $$55,500
5$$5,412 $$64,940
6$$6,198 $$74,380

How to get help:

  • Visit the DCEO website
  • Call the LIHEAP Hotline at 877-411-WARM (9276)
  • Contact the Illinois Families Call Center at 833-711-0374  

More electric bill help: 

Free money to help pay bills

Illinois Community Services Block Grant program

Using federal funds, DCEO created the CSBG program to help low-income Illinois families pay for necessities such as: 

  • Utility bills
  • Rent
  • Temporary shelter
  • Food
  • Medicine

The program does not provide grants directly to individuals. If you qualify for the grant, the funds help your local Community Action Agency provide you with essential services


  • Total income at or below 200% of FPL 30 days before application
  • Resident of Illinois

How to get help:

Low Income Household Water Assistance Program

LIHWAP is another Illinois DCEO program that helps pay for water and wastewater bills to avoid utility disconnection. You can also apply for LIHEAP at the same time. 


  • Total income is not above 200% of FPL 30 days before application
  • Resident of Illinois
  • Immediate danger of water or wastewater disconnection
  • Already disconnected from water or wastewater
  • $50 in past-due water and/or wastewater payments

How to get help:

Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program

IHWAP helps low-income families lower their monthly energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The program also provides health- and safety-related upgrades. Types of assistance include:

  • Attic and wall insulation
  • HVAC repair or replacement
  • Water heater repair or replacement
  • Lighting replacement
  • Refrigerator replacement
  • Ventilation and moisture control measures  

The program offers up to $16,000 for energy-related weatherization and repairs, and $3,500 for health and safety upgrades.


  • Household income must be at or below 150% of the FPL using State funds
  • Household income must be at or below 200% of the FPL using DOE and HHS funding

How to get help:

Contact your local Community Action Agency (CAA) for more information.

Medical insurance and dental help for single moms in Illinois

The following medical and dental services are available to qualifying individuals and families:   

Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Medical Programs

The HFS Medical Programs include two primary services — Medical Assistance (including Medicaid) and Children’s Health Insurance — that help low-income Illinois families afford health care. 

Enrolling in these programs helps cover the cost of services at an HFS-enrolled health care provider. Covered services include: 

  • Doctor visits 
  • Well-child visits
  • Dental care
  • Immunizations for children
  • Mental health services
  • Substance abuse services
  • Hospital care
  • Emergency services 
  • Prescription drugs
  • Medical equipment and supplies


Eligibility requirements vary by program. 

How to get help:

Illinois All Kids and FamilyCare programs 

Single moms may qualify for five different Illinois family health plans to help pay for their children’s healthcare:

FamilyCare/All Kids Assist 

  • Health benefits for children 18 and younger and their parents or caretaker relatives
  • Children covered must have family income within 147% of FPL 
  • Parents or caretaker relatives covered must have income up to 138% of FPL 
  • All Kids Assist coverage for children has no co-payments or premiums
  • FamilyCare Assist coverage for parents includes co-payment per medical service or prescription 

All Kids Share 

  • Health benefits for children only
  • Family income must be over 147% and at or below 157% of FPL
  • Co-payments for every medical service and prescription (up to $100 per family, per year)
  • No co-payments for well-child visits and immunizations 
  • No premiums or co-payments for families with members who are American Indians or Alaska Natives 

All Kids Premium Level 1 

  • Health benefits for children only
  • Family income must be over 157% and at or below 209% of FPL
  • Monthly premiums based on the number of children covered 
  • Co-payments for every medical service and prescription (up to $100 per family, per year)
  • No co-payments for well-child visits and immunizations
  • No premiums or co-payments for families with members who are American Indians or Alaska Natives 

All Kids Premium Level 2 

  • Health benefits for children in families with income above 209% and at or below 318% of FPL
  • Monthly premiums are paid for one or more children 
  • Co-payments vary by service 

Moms and Babies 

  • Health benefits for pregnant women and their babies up to 1 year of age
  • No co-payments or premiums 
  • Income must be at or below 213% of FPL
  • Babies under one eligible if mother had Medicaid during birth


  • Illinois resident
  • Adult must be U.S. citizen or legal permanent immigrant for at least five years*
  • Adult must be a parent or caretaker relative 
  • Children are 18 years of age or younger (must live in home)
  • Pregnant women (for Moms and Babies program)
  • Must meet the income guidelines set by each program:

Income Requirements for Illinois All Kids and FamilyCare programs:

Family SizeAll Kids AssistAll Kids ShareAll Kids Premium Level 1All Kids Premium Level 2
1Up to $1,578 per month$1,579 – $1,685 per month$1,686 – $2,243 per month$2,244 – $3,413 per month
2Up to $2,134 per month$2,135 – $2,279 per month$2,280 –  $3,034 per month$3,035 – $4,616 per month
3Up to $2,690 per month$2,691 – $2,873 per month$2,874 –  $3,825 per month$3,826 – $5,819 per month
4Up to $3,246 per month$3,247 – $3,467 per month$3,468 – $4,615 per month$4,616 – $7,023 per month
5Up to $3,802 per month$3,803 – $4,061 per month$4,062 – $5,406 per month$5,407 – $8,226 per month

* Pregnant women and children must also be Illinois residents but can qualify without citizenship or proper immigration status. 

How to get help:

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) in Illinois

HRSA, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, funds health centers that provide free or subsidized health and dental care to low-income people and those otherwise unable to access quality health care, like people living in rural areas.

HRSA also offers a 24/7 free and confidential mental health hotline for pregnant and new moms. Dial 833-943-5746 (833-9-HELP4MOMS) if you are struggling.


Each health center sets its own eligibility criteria for free or reduced cost care. 

How to get help:

Find an HRSA health center in Illinois by typing in your address on HRSA’s search tool.

More medical/dental help: 

Food help for low-income families in Illinois

A number of federal and state food and nutrition programs are available across the state:

Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) provides food benefits and nutrition education to low-income households. 

SNAP recipients are issued an EBT card (called the Illinois Link Card) that can be used like a debit card in select retail food stores to purchase food, including:

  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Plants and seeds to grow food 

Illinois also has a list of certified farmers markets and farm stands that accept SNAP benefits.

Maximum SNAP benefits each month based on family size: 

Number of People inYour HouseholdMaximum GrossMonthly Benefits
1$ 281
2$ 516
3$ 740
4$ 939
5$ 1,116
6$ 1,339
7$ 1,480
8$ 1,691
9$ 1,902
10$ 2,113

For households above 10 people add $211 for each additional person.


You must be an Illinois resident and have an annual household income below these amounts: 

Number of People in Your Household Maximum Gross Monthly IncomeMaximum Gross Monthly Income (Age 60 and Over or Disabled)
1$ 1,869$ 2,265
2$ 2,518$ 3,052
3$ 3,167$ 3,838
4$ 3,816$ 4,625
5$ 4,465$ 5,412
6$ 5,114$ 6,198
7$ 5,763$ 6,985
8$ 6,412$ 7,772
9$ 7,061$ 8,559
10$ 7,710$ 9,346
Each additional person add$649$787

If you’re not sure if you qualify, IDHS offers a SNAP eligibility calculator.

How to get help: 

Apply online on Illinois’s Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) website.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is a nutrition program that provides free baby formula and nutritional food items to low-income mothers and their babies. 


  • Low-income, pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, for up to one year postpartum
  • Women up to six months postpartum who are not breastfeeding
  • Infants and children under 5 years old, including foster children
  • Low-income sole provider parents of children under age of 5 who are at nutritional risk and who are below 185% of FPL
  • If you are currently receiving Medicaid, Temporary Assistance, or Food Assistance help, you are also eligible for WIC

How to get help: 

Call your local WIC office or (217) 782-2166 and say you want to apply for WIC. 

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP)

NSLP serves healthy, well-balanced, reduced-price or free meals to children in school. An extension of the NSLP, the School Breakfast Program provides free or low-cost breakfast to eligible students. All public schools in Illinois must offer a free lunch program (and breakfast if offered) as part of the Illinois Free Lunch and Breakfast Program. 


Household income must fall at or below the limits of the federal income eligibility guidelines.

How to get help: 

Illinois Summer Food Service Program

Illinois schools may also offer the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) that offers free or low-cost lunch and breakfast during school vacation periods for eligible students and their families. This service is part of the Seamless Summer program, where a school offers NSLP, SBP, and SFSP.


Household income must fall at or below the limits of the federal income eligibility guidelines.

How to get help: 

Illinois food banks

Food banks in Illinois provide meals for individuals and families who are struggling to put food on the table. 


Each food bank sets its own eligibility and proof of need requirements. 

How to get help: 

To find a food bank near you and for additional information, visit the Feeding Illinois website.

More food help: 

Child care help for low-income families in Illinois

There are multiple state and federally funded education programs and child care resources in Illinois:

Illinois Child Care Assistance Program

The Illinois Office of Child Care offers CCAP to help low-income families afford child care while they work or go to school.  


  • Illinois resident
  • Employed at time of application and/or attending to a trade school, undergraduate college, or other eligible education
  • Children are younger than 13*  
  • Monthly non-exempt income must be between 275% of FPL and 85% of the state median income to have 12-month assistance extended for 3 months
  • Monthly non-exempt income is up to 225% of FPL at the time of application

You can estimate your eligible income using the CCAP eligibility calculator. Once you know your non-exempt income, you can determine your income eligibility for CCAP. These are the current income guidelines for CCAP recipients: 

Family Size225% FPL (for initial 12 months)275% FPL and 85% State Median Income Range (for 3-month extension)
2$3,433$4,196 – $4,921
3$4,318$5,278 – $6,079
4$5,203$6,359 – $7,237
5$6,088$7,441 – $8,395
6$6,973$8,523 – $9,553
7$7,858$9,604 – $9,770
8$8,743$9,987 – $9,987
9$9,628$10,204 – $10,204

*If you have a child with special needs, you may be eligible for child care assistance until they are 19.

How to apply:

Illinois Head Start and Early Head Start

Head Start is a free federal preschool program for children aged 3 to 5 from low-income families. Early Head Start serves pregnant women and children under age 3. The programs focus on cognitive, social, and emotional development and prepare children for school. 


  • Children from birth to 5 
  • Meet federal poverty guidelines 
  • Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF, SSI, etc.) are eligible regardless of income
  • Some programs accept kids with incomes above FPL
  • Pregnant women can also receive prenatal and postpartum information, education, and services through Early Head Start

How to apply: 

More child care help

Education help for single moms in Illinois

If you’re a single mom who wants to further her education, here are some helpful resources: 

Get a GED in Illinois

If you are at least 18 years old in Illinois, you can take the GED test. You may also be able to take the test at 16 or 17 with special permission from the school district where you live or if you are enrolled in certain learning programs that petition on your behalf. 

You are not required to take a GED Program for Adults in order to take the test. However, you must also complete an Illinois Constitution Module available on the ICCB website.

The GED test is broken into four exams on different subjects, which can be spaced out and taken at your own pace (though each individual exam has a time limit): 

  • Mathematical reasoning – 115 minutes
  • Reasoning through language arts – 150 minutes
  • Social studies – 70 minutes
  • Science – 90 minutes

You have two options for taking the test in Illinois: 

  • Online at-home test – $36 per subject
  • In person at a test center – $30 per subject

Grants and scholarships in Illinois  

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) connects students and prospective students with grants and scholarships available in Illinois. To find out which scholarships and grants you may be eligible for, visit the ISAC student portal.

Individual schools also offer need-based and academic scholarships for their students. If you’ve been accepted to a higher education institution, contact their office of financial aid to learn how to apply. 

Employment help for single moms in Illinois

Workforce programs in Illinois provide training and assist with employment:

Illinois Unemployment Insurance

This program provides unemployment compensation to eligible Illinois residents who are out of work through no fault of their own.


  • Illinois resident 
  • Unemployed for no-fault circumstance
  • Earned a certain amount of wages in the past 18 months
  • Actively looking for another job

How to get help: 

American Job Centers

The American Job Centers offer employment and training services, career counseling, and job search assistance. 

How to get help: 

More employment help: 

Charity organizations in Illinois

There are a number of charitable organizations throughout Illinois that offer support to single moms:

Parents Without Partners (PWP)

PWP is a support group that allows single parents to connect with other single parents. 

How to get help: 

Find your local PWP chapter to ask about local meetups

The Salvation Army of Illinois

The Salvation Army wears many hats. Chapters assist with:

  • Food, shelter and clothing
  • Medication costs
  • Education and job training
  • Christmas presents
  • Rent and utility bills
  • Substance abuse rehabilitation
  • Youth services
  • Emergency disaster response


Each Salvation Army branch determines its own eligibility criteria for different programs. 

How to get help: 

Visit the Salvation Army website to find your local chapter. 

United Way of Illinois

The United Way of Illinois connects people in need with local resources like: 

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Child care services
  • Housing
  • Health care
  • Support groups

How to get help: 

Help for single moms in Chicago, Illinois

Single moms in Chicago, Illinois, can utilize these assistance programs and charities:

Emergency cash help in Chicago

This Chicago-based program provides emergency funding for families in need:

Chicago Emergency Fund

The City of Chicago reserves funding for its residents in emergency situations or in need of short-term financial assistance, whether they’re at risk of homelessness or have experienced an unexpected emergency, leaving them without enough money to pay for their rent or basic needs. The fund can help with various situations, including people experiencing a long-term financial crisis or families transitioning to stable, permanent housing.


  • Varies by program, but recipient must be experiencing a financial emergency

How to get help:

  • Call 3-1-1 and ask for short-term financial assistance

Housing help in Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, offers several housing-related programs for residents to get financial assistance with their rent or buying a home in Chicago:

City of Chicago Rental Assistance Program (RAP)

RAP provides partial or full rental assistance to Chicago residents who are at risk of becoming homeless due to a financial hardship. The money gets paid directly to the participant’s landlord to apply to their rent.


  • Live in Chicago
  • Landlord participates in RAP
  • Classified as low-income
  • At risk of being homeless

How to get help:

Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program

The Chicago Housing Authority manages Chicago’s HCV program, which is funded by the federal HUD program. These housing vouchers are used as a subsidy toward rent payments to make rent more affordable for low-income households.

Participants pay, on average, about 30% of their income in rent and utilities.


  • Meet HUD qualifications and income limits
  • Legal immigrant or citizen
  • Pass screening process

How to get help:

Choose to Own (CTO)

CTO is a program sponsored by the Chicago Housing Authority allowing participants in the HCV program to use their subsidy toward a mortgage payment for a home they own rather than for rent. 


  • Participant in HCV or public housing program
  • First-time homebuyer
  • Meet income requirements
  • Minimum 640 credit score
  • At least $3,000 saved in a banking account

How to get help:

  • Participate in a CTO orientation in person or online

Affordable Homeownership Opportunities

Chicago’s Department of Housing provides affordable homeownership opportunities by taking ownership of new or on-sale properties in Chicago and selling them at affordable prices to moderate-income families. Properties are usually at or below $250,000.


  • Area median income of 80% or less
  • Occupy home as primary residence
  • Participate in HUD-approved pre-purchase counseling

How to get help:

Building Neighborhoods and Affordable Homes Program

As part of Chicago’s mission to renovate neighborhoods, the city offers this program giving homebuyers up to $100,000 to buy newly constructed residential buildings. The properties can be 1-4 units. The amount of the grant is based on income, but won’t drop below $50,000 for homebuyers reaching the maximum income limit of 140% of the area median income.


  • No more than 140% of area median income
  • Purchase a home built according to a City of Chicago land sale redevelopment agreement
  • Primary residence for at least 10 years

How to get help:

Emergency Heating Repair Program

Homebuyers can use this program to get their heating system repaired or replaced. The program pays the full cost for eligible participants.


  • Need an emergency heating system repair
  • Property in Chicago
  • 1-4 unit property
  • Owner-occupied property
  • Not at risk of foreclosure
  • Income at or below 80% of area median income

How to get help:

Transportation help in Chicago

Look to these transportation resources in Chicago if you’re in need of free or cheap transportation.

Cars of Hope

Cars of Hope gifts vehicles and offers free repairs to needy individuals and families in and around the Chicago area.


  • Work with a social services agency for Medicaid, SNAP, or other services
  • In need of reliable transportation

How to get help:

  • Contact your Chicago area social services agency
  • Call 224-216-2277

Chicago Transit Authority Free and Reduced Fare Programs

The Chicago Transit Authority is one of Chicago’s public transportation systems, offering free rides to children under 7, reduced fares as low as $1.10 for children 7-11, and $0.75 fares for students. People with disabilities and military members can ride free.

How to get help:

  • Call 888-968-7282

Utility bill assistance in Chicago

This program can help you pay your water and sewer bills in Chicago, Illinois.

Utility Billing Relief (UBR) Program

UBR provides a 50% reduction on Chicago residents’ water and sewer bills for those who qualify. The program also pays off the debt owed to the city’s water company if a program participant pays their bills on time for at least one year using their UBR credit.


  • Live at the property receiving assistance
  • Live in Chicago
  • Single-family or two-unit home
  • Income at or below 200% of FPL

How to get help:

Medical and dental care help in Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, offers several free and low-cost medical and dental services for low-income residents or people who are underinsured or uninsured:

Chicago Free Clinics

Chicago hosts numerous free health and dental clinics for families without adequate health insurance and low incomes. Contact each center for assistance.

  • CommunityHealth: If you have no insurance and income at or below 300% of the FPL, you can get free healthcare at CommunityHealth, which offers primary care, lab services, medications, telehealth, mental health services, and basic dental care. CommunityHealth must be the only place you receive medical care to qualify.
  • Compassionate Care Network: Patients who live in Illinois and don’t have health insurance can get no-cost services here when they pay just $15 a month for a family.
  • Hayat Clinic: Hayat Clinic provides free primary care services, vaccinations, lab services, vision screenings, and surgical consultations.
  • IAMA Charitable Foundation Free Health Clinic: This clinic has preventative care, pharmacy and laboratory services, and primary care services for patients with no insurance. The clinic is staffed by volunteer medical professionals.
  • Interprofessional Community Clinic: If you live in Lake County or the surrounding area and have no health insurance, you can receive free care from this clinic, which is run by medical students.
  • Mercy to Mankind: Mercy to Mankind offers primary medical care services to uninsured patients in the Chicago area. You can walk in or make an appointment online.
  • Mobile Care Chicago: Mobile Care Chicago provides no-cost medical and dental care to children and families using mobile medical clinics.
  • NLVS Free Clinic: Students from surrounding colleges run the NLVS Free Clinic to provide free medical care to uninsured and underinsured patients in Chicago.
  • Old Irving Park Community Clinic: Volunteer medical professionals provide free primary care services at this clinic. Patients are seen by appointment only.
  • Port Ministries: Uninsured patients living in Chicago’s southside neighborhoods can visit Port Ministries for free primary and urgent care.
  • The Night Ministry: The Night Ministry serves homeless individuals and families in Chicago. Its mobile healthcare units help people with acute and chronic medical conditions and basic medical services.
  • Washington Park Children’s Free Health Clinic: This clinic provides free primary and preventative care, health screenings, and immunizations to children from uninsured or underinsured families. The clinic is open every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for walk-ins and appointments.

Cook County Health and Hospital Systems (CCHHS) CareLink

CCHHS CareLink is a free program for residents of Cook County who get medical care at a Cook County Health clinic. The program covers a portion or all of a participant’s medical expenses at a CCHHS facility.


  • Live in Cook County
  • Uninsured or underinsured
  • Income below 600% of FPL

How to get help:

  • Call 866-223-2817

Chicago Dental Society (CDS) Foundation Clinic

The CDS Foundation Clinic offers free dental care to low-income families, including oral exams, X-rays, extractions, and cleanings. The clinic is supported by volunteer dental professionals.


  • Uninsured or underinsured
  • Live in Cook County, DuPage County, or Lake County

How to get help:

University of Illinois Chicago Student Dentistry

The University of Illinois Chicago has a student dentistry clinic with affordable care for adults and children. Dental students perform basic and advanced dental services, like general dentistry, dental implants, and root canals. Anyone is able to make an appointment.

How to get help:

  • Call 312-996-7555

Food help in Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, is home to several food banks and programs that help single moms and their families find food:

Ravenswood Community Services

This organization runs a community kitchen for hot meals and a food pantry for groceries every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It also offers a weekend food pantry on the second Saturday of each month starting at 9 a.m. School children at participating schools in the Uptown and Ravenswood areas can also pick up free groceries through the organization’s after-school mobile program each Thursday. 

How to get help:

  • Call 773-769-0282 

Irving Park Community Food Pantry

This food pantry serves the Irving Park area on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the second Tuesday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. Recipients get up to five days of food and can also receive pet food if they have pets.


How to get help:

Common Pantry

Common Pantry provides free food every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Each family can get food once a month.


How to get help:

Nourishing Hope

Nourishing Hope offers free groceries through its food pantries like Sheridan Market and El Mercadito. It also has an online market where registered clients can order groceries online for free to pick up in person. 


  • Varies by program, but all require Chicago residency

How to get help:

  • Call 773-525-1777

The Friendship Center

The Friendship Center provides fresh groceries to Cook County residents four days a week plus hot to-go meals on Thursday evenings.


  • Live in Cook County
  • Able to provide proof of address

How to get help:

New Hope Community Food Pantry

This food pantry gives needy families up to one full week’s worth of groceries once a month on Tuesdays between 9:30-11:30 a.m. The pantry also offers additional services, like basic health screenings and recipes, for free.


  • Live in one of the following zip codes: 60630, 60631, 60646, 60656, 60706, or 60634

How to get help:

The Love Fridge

The Love Fridge is a system of community refrigerators where people in need can take refrigerated food home. The organization also provides free culinary kits filled with portable kitchen tools, like camping stoves and pans, to anyone who needs them.

How to get help:

A Just Harvest

A Just Harvest hosts a food pantry every Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. and a hot community meal every day from noon to 2 p.m. Families can also get fresh produce for free on Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 3 p.m.

How to get help:

Pilsen Food Pantry

The Pilsen Food Pantry provides free food to anyone in need who visits, including dairy, produce, and meats. Households can visit once every two weeks, Monday through Friday. 


  • Valid photo ID
  • Live in the Chicago area

How to get help:

Education assistance in Chicago

Explore the following resources in Chicago that can help you afford an education:

CSBG Scholarship

The CSBG Scholarship gives eligible attendees of an Illinois college, university, or training program $1,000 to $5,000 to put toward tuition, books, fees, and other school-related costs.


  • Chicago resident
  • Enrolled full-time in Illinois college or university
  • Have an email address
  • Meet income requirements
  • Write an essay

How to get help:

Partners in Education Program

People who participate in Chicago’s housing voucher program may be eligible for free or low-cost college through the Partners in Education Program. The program can assist with tuition, fees, and books.


How to get help:

City Colleges of Chicago Fresh Start and Future Ready

The City Colleges of Chicago offers these two programs to help Chicago students afford their degrees:

  • Fresh Start: This program helps students who have incurred debt from their degree at City Colleges wipe away their debt so they can continue their degree. Students are eligible if they had at least $201 in debt on their accounts before July 1, 2022.
  • Future Ready: New City Colleges students who are Chicago residents may qualify for Future Ready, which provides free college certificates in specific fields, like phlebotomy and software development. Future Ready funding applies after any financial aid you qualify for.

How to get help:

  • Call 773-265-5343

Employment help in Chicago

Need help getting a steady job in Chicago or training for your next career? Check out these free resources:

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future maintains a job database for job seekers and has additional resources for workers, like the Pivot to Success program, which helps workers transition from entry-level to more advanced careers through on-the-job experience. The organization also hosts career and job resource events and skill workshops.

How to get help:

The Chicago Help Initiative

The Chicago Help Initiative hosts a weekly jobs club with volunteer career counselors that provide personalized coaching to help you get the job you want. Attendees can also access the organization’s list of open jobs.

How to get help:

Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership provides numerous career resources to Cook County residents, including resume writing, career coaching, and training for the area’s in-demand industries, like construction and healthcare.

How to get help:

  • Call 312-603-0200

JVS Career and Employment

JVS Career and Employment connects clients with open jobs, offers career coaching, and personalizes career roadmaps to help Chicagoans find suitable jobs. 

How to get help:

Westside Health Authority

The Westside Health Authority’s employment center helps registered clients with job placement, skill development, and vocational training. Its services are geared toward the homeless, underemployed, veterans, people with felonies, and people with disabilities in Chicago.

How to get help:

  • Call 773-786-0226
  • Walk in to register at 5417 West Division in Chicago, Monday through Friday from  9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Charity organizations in Chicago

Several charities in Chicago, Illinois, can assist single moms and their children:

The Well of Mercy

The Well of Mercy helps homeless mothers and pregnant women find safe and reliable housing. The program allows mothers and their children a place to stay for up to five years while helping them work toward their housing and financial goals with a personalized plan. 


  • Homeless mother or pregnant woman

How to get help:

New Moms Chicago

New Moms Chicago supports pregnant and new moms by providing temporary or transitional housing, job training, and family education. The charity also offers support for new moms to finish college, whether they need help paying for child care or financial assistance to get through school.


  • Mom or pregnant women 24 or younger

How to get help:

Single Mothers of Culture Chicago

Single Mothers of Culture helps single moms and their children in Chicago become more financially independent through various services, like connecting families with homeless shelters, providing career counseling, and assisting women who are in domestic violence situations.


  • Single mom

How to get help:

Housing Opportunities for Women (HOW)

HOW has created more than 600 supportive housing units in Chicago for women who are facing homelessness. The organization also gives women case management services, helps with career training, provides summer and youth camps and activities to children, and offers health and wellness care for people living with HIV or AIDS.


  • Be considered low to moderate income for the Chicago area
  • At risk for homelessness

How to get help:

Cornerstone Community Outreach

Cornerstone Community Outreach is a homeless shelter network that gives its families additional resources, like food, clothing, and life skills classes. Its Hannah shelter is specifically for single mothers and their children.


  • Homeless
  • Single mom

How to get help:


  1. “The Long-Term Impacts of Cash Assistance to Families,” by Kevin Werner, The Urban Institute, Jan. 31, 2024

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One Comment

I tried half of these programs and they don’t help with your rent and half of them doesn’t have funds to help with bills I am a single mom I don’t indulge in drugs or alcohol I don’t have the finest things because I buy my son’s clothes and shoes I don’t have nice furniture so helping is not going to happen for me

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