scroll top

Help for single moms in Illinois: 28 assistance programs

We earn commissions for transactions made through links in this post. Here's more on how we make money.

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

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 2023 federal poverty guidelines:

Number of people in family/householdAnnual income

* For families/households with more than 8 people, add $5,140 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: 

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: 

Not your state? Select yours here: founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, and National Jeweler editor, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. Her next book, The 50/50 Solution, is out March, 2024 with Sourcebooks. More about Emma's credentials.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *