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Help for single moms in Pennsylvania: 41 assistance programs

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If you’re a single mom in Pennsylvania 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 July 1, 2022 – June 30, 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 Pennsylvania

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

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Pennsylvania

TANF-Pennsylvania provides emergency funds to qualifying individuals and families in need, including pregnant women, single mothers, and low-income families.

TANF is designed to help single mothers and low-income families cover the costs of food, rent, clothing, and bills.

You can receive cash assistance through TANF for up to 60 months (5 years) throughout your lifetime. The amount of money you receive depends on which county you live in, as well as the number of people in your household. Your household income may also affect your payout amount. 

Group 1:Bucks, Chester, Lancaster, Montgomery, Pike
Number of Persons in Budget GroupMaximum Benefit Amount
Each additional person$83
Group 2:Adams, Allegheny, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Centre, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Philadelphia, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Warren, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming, York
Number of Persons in Budget GroupMaximum Benefit Amount
Each additional person$83
Group 3:Beaver, Cameron, Carbon, Clinton, Elk, Franklin, Indiana, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Venango, Washington
Number of Persons in Budget GroupMaximum Benefit Amount
Each additional person$83
Group 4:Armstrong, Bedford, Cambria, Clarion, Clearfield, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Somerset
Number of Persons in Budget GroupMaximum Benefit Amount
Each additional person$83


  • U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen
  • Pennsylvania resident
  • Have children under 18 (or under 19 if still enrolled in high school)
  • Pregnant women (with or without children)
  • Must need support as a result of at least one of these things:
    • Death of the child's parent
    • Incapacity of the child's parent (such as a long illness)
    • Continued absence of a parent from the home
    • One or both parents with no income or low income from employment.
  • Children and mother must have Social Security Number
  • Children must have birth certificates to prove a relationship to their parent or caregiver
  • Monthly countable income must be less than the Assistance Payment Level (APL) (after subtracting 50% of the FPL from APL)
  • Pursue child support enforcement, have child support in place, or have good cause for refusing child support 
  • Actively seek employment or training program (unless reasonable excuse, such as disability)
  • Help caseworker complete, sign, and follow through with Agreement of Mutual Responsibility, a plan for what you will do to no longer require TANF
  • Resources must hold a total value of $1,000 or less
  • Report all sources of income

How to get help:

Pennsylvania Family Assistance

Pennsylvania Family Assistance, provided through the PA Department of Human Services (DHS), offers resources to families and single mothers in need of financial assistance. 


  • U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen
  • Pennsylvania resident
  • Unemployed or underemployed 
  • Low or very low income
  • One of the following:
    • have a child 18 years of age or younger, or
    • be pregnant, or
    • be 18 years of age or younger and head of your household

How to get help:

More emergency cash help in Pennsylvania: 

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

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

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Housing help for single moms in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers housing programs and services that help individuals and families with low incomes, older adults and people with disabilities, and those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. 

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

Rental assistance in Pennsylvania

There are several programs in Pennsylvania to help renters find housing and pay their rent based on the county in which they live:

Public Housing and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

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


  • Meet income limits specified by HUD: less than 50% of medium income for the county in which you live. You can find your county’s income limits on the HUD website
  • Must be a citizen or eligible immigrant
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Resident of Pennsylvania

How to get help: 

  • Contact your local public housing agency (PHA) and ask how to apply for assistance
  • Call 800-955-2232 (housing choice voucher program in Pennsylvania) 
  • To apply, you will need your Social Security Number, third-party documentation of income, preliminary application form, and signed consent forms
  • Contact your local HUD rental assistance agency and ask how to apply. Some counties may not offer rental assistance. 

Please note: Some PHAs have long waiting lists, so you might want to apply at more than one. Your PHA can also give you a list of locations where your voucher can be used.

Subsidized apartments

HUD allows apartment owners to offer reduced rent to their low-income tenants. To apply, contact or visit the management office of the apartment building(s) that interest you.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s (PHFA) housing search tool helps people search for housing by rent amount, area of interest, accessibility, etc.

You can also find additional statewide information and resources, including a rental checklist, rent calculator, and information on services and transportation.

How to get help:

Mortgage assistance in Pennsylvania

If you need help with your mortgage in Pennsylvania, or you need help buying a home, these programs can help: 

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) 

PHFA offers several homebuyer and mortgage assistance programs, including down payment and closing cost assistance. You can find information on:

  • Foreclosure prevention and assistance
  • Home improvement & repairs
  • Refinancing options

This is one of their programs: 


The Keystone Forgivable in Ten Years Loan Program (K-FIT) helps qualified homebuyers with a down payment and/or closing costs by providing a second mortgage loan. Eligible borrowers may receive 5% of the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value with no maximum dollar limit. The loan is forgiven annually over 10 years at 10% interest per year.


Buyers must meet the requirements of the applicable PHFA first mortgage program and the K-FIT requirements, most of which are listed below:

  • Minimum credit score of 660
  • Maximum assistance will be based on the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value
  • Assistance must be used for down payment and/or closing costs
  • Minimum loan amount is $500.
  • K-FIT may not be combined with any other PHFA assistance program, except the ACCESS Home Modification Loan Program.
  • K-FIT may be used for conventional, FHA, VA, or RD loans

How to get help:

Check today's mortgage loan rates >>

Habitat for Humanity 

Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates houses for needy families and offers homeownership assistance through volunteer labor. 

Contact Habitat for Humanity for more information.

USDA Rural Housing

The USDA Rural Housing program in Pennsylvania is a homebuyer program for rural communities. 

Contact USDA PA Rural Housing for more information.

More housing help: 

Homeless and special needs housing assistance in Pennsylvania

The following housing programs help homeless and special needs individuals in Pennsylvania: 

Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) Program 

The EHV program helps those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, and/or attempting to flee or fleeing domestic issues. Note: This program does not provide immediate assistance. 

The EHV program helps families and individuals experiencing homelessness by helping them find affordable housing in the short term and establishing housing stability in the long term.


EHVs are limited to individuals and families who are:

  • Homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • Fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking
  • People who are recently homeless or for whom rental assistance will prevent homelessness 
  • High risk of housing instability

How to get help: 

Pennsylvania Homeless Assistance Program (HAP)

HAP helps ensure people who are homeless can find refuge and that they can work toward self-sufficiency. Available programs and services include:

  • Case management
  • Rental assistance
  • Bridge housing
  • Emergency shelter
  • Innovative supportive housing service


How to get help: 

Electric bill assistance in Pennsylvania

If you’re struggling to pay your utility bills in Pennsylvania, check out the following programs:

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) in Pennsylvania

LIHEAP helps eligible households with their home heating and cooling bills through energy bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, and long-term weatherization assistance. 

Grants range from $300 to $1,000 based on household size, income, and fuel type. 


  • U.S. citizen or legally admitted immigrant
  • Responsible for paying cost of energy bills
  • Resident of Pennsylvania
  • Total gross annual household income at or below 60% of the state median income

How to get help:

  • More information is available at LIHEAP
  • Call 866-857-7095

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

WAP helps qualifying households lower their monthly energy bills by making their homes safer, healthier, and more energy efficient. Types of assistance include:

  • Air and duct sealing
  • Wall, floor, attic insulation
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning system improvements
  • Lighting efficiency 
  • Hot water tank insulation
  • Water conservation devices

The average expenditure per household is $7,669.


  • Low-income individuals (at or below 200% of FPL), with priority given to higher-risk residents such as the elderly, disabled individuals, families with children, and high energy users.

How to get help:

Low-Income Household Water Assistance (LIHWAP) in Pennsylvania

LIHWAP was created in response to COVID-19 and helps eligible households pay for drinking and wastewater. Payments are applied directly to the water account and paid to the vendor. 


  • Receive water through public pipelines from participating vendor
  • Total gross income at or below 60% of state median income
  • Responsible for paying the cost of water
  • U.S. citizen or legal immigrant
  • Resident of Pennsylvania

How to get help:

More electric bill help: 

Free money to help pay bills

Medical insurance & dental help for single moms in Pennsylvania

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

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) in Pennsylvania

HRSA, an agency of the U.S. 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. 


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

How to get help:

  • Find an HRSA health center in Pennsylvania by typing in your address on HRSA’s search tool.
  • Call 833-943-5746 (833-9-HELP4MOMS)

Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania

Medical Assistance (Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program) is an assistance program that pays for health care services for low-income individuals and families. 


  • Resident of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. national citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien
  • Children 18 and under
  • Pregnant women
  • Parents and caretakers of children under 21
  • Individuals ages 65 and older
  • Blind and/or disabled
  • Individuals receiving long-term care or home and community-based services
  • If your income is higher than the limits but you have medical bills you owe
  • Adults ages 19-64 with incomes at or below 133% of the Federal Income Poverty Guidelines (FPIG):
Household sizeMonthly pregnant women and infants under age 1 (215% FPIG*) Monthlychildren ages 1-5 (157% FPIG)Monthlychildren Ages 6-18 (133% FPIG)
Each additional person$921$673$570

How to get help:

  • Apply online using COMPASS
  • Call 866-550-4355

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Pennsylvania

CHIP provides health coverage for kids and teens who are uninsured and not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. 

CHIP is free for most families, though families with incomes above the free CHIP limits can pay low monthly premiums, starting at $53/month, plus co-pays for some services.


  • 18 years and younger
  • U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or qualified alien
  • Resident of Pennsylvania
  • Uninsured and not eligible for Medical Assistance
  • These are the income limits for free and reduced-cost coverage, plus premium/co-pay costs for those not eligible for free coverage

How to get help: 

  • Apply online using COMPASS
  • Call 1-800-986-KIDS (5437)

Pennsylvania Dental Services

The DHS provides people with access to quality dental services through Medical Assistance (MA, or Medicaid). Dental services are based on your eligibility category, age, and need. 

MA covers all medically necessary dental services for enrolled children, including: 

  • Teeth cleaning
  • X-rays
  • Cavity fillings
  • Crowns
  • Other services

Adults enrolled in MA are eligible at minimum for surgical procedures and emergency services related to treatment of symptoms and pain.


  • You must apply for MA first to see if you are eligible

How to get help:

  • Apply online using COMPASS
  • Call DHS at 800-692-7462
  • If you need help finding a dentist that accepts MA, visit www/ or call 800-537-8862

Family Planning Program

Pennsylvania’s Family Planning Program provides health and medical support to statewide family planning clinics and aims to prevent high-risk pregnancies among sexually active adolescents 17 years and younger.

Clinical services provided at local clinics include:

  • Physical exams
  • Routine gynecological care
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Contraceptives
  • Cancer screening and examinations
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease diagnosis, treatment, education, and counseling
  • HIV/AIDS education and screening

How to get help:

More medical/dental help: 

Food help for low-income families in Pennsylvania

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

Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP is a federally funded program that helps low-income households buy healthy foods through funds loaded on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card.

These are the maximum monthly SNAP benefits in Pennsylvania: 

Family Size12345678Each additional person
Maximum benefit$281$516$740$939$1,116$1,339$1,480$1,691Add $211 


To be eligible for SNAP in Pennsylvania, you must meet income requirements and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Current bank balance (savings and checking combined) under $2,001, or
  • Current bank balance (savings and checking combined) under $3,001 and share your household with one of the following:
    • Person or persons age 60 and over
    • Person with a disability (child, spouse, parent, or yourself)
  • These are the current income guidelines for SNAP in PA: 
Household SizeMaximum Gross Monthly Income
Each additional member+$788

How to get help: 

  • Apply or renew online using COMPASS
  • In person: File an application at your local CAO

The Emergency Food Assistance Program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps low-income individuals in Pennsylvania by providing emergency nutrition at no cost. 


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

How to get help: 

Pennsylvania’s 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. 


More on the current income guidelines for WIC recipients here.

People who are currently receiving Medicaid, Temporary Cash Assistance, or Food Assistance help are also eligible for WIC. 

How to get help:

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

NSLP serves healthy, well-balanced, reduced-price, or free meals to children in school. An extension of the NSLP, the SBP provides free or low-cost breakfast to eligible students. 


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

Household sizeMaximum income level (per year)

For households with more than eight people, add $9,509 per additional person.

How to get help: 

Pennsylvania also offers other child nutrition programs to low-income households with students 18 and under attending schools, including the Afterschool Snack Program, Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program (FFVP), Special Milk Program, and Seamless Summer Option (SSO).

Pennsylvania’s Summer Food Service Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services serves nutritious meals at no cost to children during summer break. Food is distributed at local schools, nonprofit organizations, parks, and libraries. 


  • These are the current income guidelines for the Summer Food Service Program: 
Household sizeMaximum income per year

How to get help: 

More food help in Pennsylvania

Child care help for low-income families in Pennsylvania

There are several federally funded education programs and resources in Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania 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 the Poverty Guidelines
  • Pregnant women can also receive prenatal and postpartum information, education, and services through Early Head Start

How to get help:

Child Care Works

Child Care Works helps low-income families in Pennsylvania find and afford child care near their home or work. The Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program helps low-income families pay their child care expenses. You must submit an application to the Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) in your county to apply. 


  • Pennsylvania resident
  • Have a child or children requiring child care while you work or attend an education program
  • Work 20+ hours/week or 10+ hours and attend school/training 10+ hours/week
  • Have a promise of a job that will start within 30 days of your application for subsidized child care
  • Teen parents must attend an education program
  • Child who needs care must be a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residency
  • Proof of identification for each parent or caretaker in the home
  • Meet income guidelines for your family size, 200% or less of FPL:
Family SizeMaximum yearly
family income

How to get help:

  • Visit Child Care Works for more information, including additional guidelines and eligibility requirements
  • Call the Child Care Works helpline at 877-4-PA-KIDS (877-472-5437)

More child care help

Education help for single moms in Pennsylvania

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

Get a GED in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania uses two options for high school equivalency testing: the GED and the HiSET exams, which test Language Arts (reading and writing), Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Test-takers can take the GED exam online or at one of Pennsylvania’s official test centers. The HiSET exam is also available in an online format.

These are the costs for each test type: 

  • GED exam (in person): $120 for full exam / $30 per subject
  • GED exam (online): $144 for full exam / $36 per subject*
  • HiSET exam (online): $93.75 
  • HiSET exam (paper/pencil version): $115

*To qualify for the online GED exam, you must first achieve a “green zone” score (likely to pass) on the GED Ready test, which is available on the GED website for $6.99 per subject ($28 total).


  • In Pennsylvania, the minimum age to qualify for GED or HiSET testing is 16; however, underage applicants must sign an official age waiver and have parental consent
  • Pennsylvania requires GED and HiSET test-takers to be state residents
  • Test-takers cannot have a high school or equivalent diploma
  • Test-takers cannot be signed up for another school program
  • Pennsylvania does not require test-takers to first attend a prep course or pass the GED Ready practice test, unless the GED exam is taken online

How to apply:

Grants and scholarships in Pennsylvania

Through Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), Pennsylvania offers both grants (State Grant Program) and loans (Forward Student Loan) to help fund post-secondary education.

State Grant Program qualifications:

  • Pennsylvania resident
  • High school graduate
  • Attend a PHEAA-approved post-secondary school
  • Enrolled at least half time 
  • Enrolled in a PHEAA-approved study program of at least two academic years that allows at least 50% of study in the classroom (medical disability exception) 
  • Have made satisfactory academic progress
  • Not have already earned a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Have satisfactory character (e.g., not be incarcerated)
  • Not have received the maximum number of PA State Grants permitted
  • Not be in default or pending default on an educational loan

Forward Student Loan qualifications:

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Pennsylvania resident, or live in an approved state (MD, OH, NY, NJ, VA, WV, and DE)
  • Attend a Pennsylvania school (if not Pennsylvania resident)
  • Attend an eligible school in a degree-, diploma-, or certificate-seeking program
  • Secure a co-signer (if applicable)

How to get help:

Visit PHEAA for more information, definitions, more specific eligibility requirements (such as if you’re studying outside Pennsylvania), how to apply, application deadlines, etc.

More education help: 

Employment help for single moms in Pennsylvania

Workforce programs in Pennsylvania provide training and assist with employment and education:


PAsmart is a workforce development initiative that helps connect Pennsylvanians with resources for working and training in Pennsylvania through: 

  • Education
  • Training and apprenticeships
  • Career guidance 

PAsmart prepares Pennsylvania students and workers for well-paid jobs in high-growth industries.

How to get help:

Check out Working and Training in PA for more information, to check your eligibility for each sector (Education / Training & Apprenticeships / Career Paths) and for more area-specific contact information

American Job Centers

The American Job Centers offers: 

  • Employment and training services
  • Career counseling
  • Job search assistance

How to get help: 

More employment help: 

Charity organizations in Pennsylvania

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

The Salvation Army of Pennsylvania

The Salvation Army assists with:

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


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

How to get help: 

Catholic Charities of Pennsylvania

There are seven chapters of Catholic Charities across Pennsylvania. They assist with:

  • Housing
  • Utility assistance
  • Food assistance
  • Health care assistance


  • Each Catholic Charities branch determines its own eligibility criteria for different programs. 

How to get help: 

United Way of Pennsylvania

The United Way of Pennsylvania 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, 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. More about Emma's credentials.

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