Financial Assistance for Single Mothers in British Columbia


The governments of Canada and British Columbia provide many programs and services to support your efforts to take care of your family, whether your children are newly born, in preschool or daycare, elementary or high school and beyond. Browse through the list below and see how your government can help.

Federal program titles are preceded by (CAN), while provincial program titles are preceded by (BC).

This listing focuses on family-related services. For a full listing of benefits, programs and services, see the websites of Benefits Canada or Service Canada.

Education and Special Needs

(BC) Family Support

Vancouver: 604-586-4100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 604-586-4100 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Family Support services is the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s (MCFD’s) “umbrella” category for families with special needs children. The largest and most-used programs are detailed below (At Home, School Aged Therapy, and Early Intervention). More specialized programs and general assistance/support is available by contacting Family Support on the web or by calling the phone number given above.

(BC) At Home Program

Toll-Free: 1-888-613-3232 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-888-613-3232 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The At Home Program from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) assists parents caring for children with severe disabilities in two main areas:

  • Funding for respite care, either in your own home or at another location.
  • Funding for basic medical necessities, such as medical equipment and supplies, orthotics, Medical Service Plan coverage, medications, and related transportation.

Pre-approval is needed for most, but not all, of the eligible expenses associated with the care of your child. Candidates may be able to take advantage of both types of funding, or may be required to choose one.

Eligibility

An At Home representative will assess your child’s disability. To qualify, the child must be dependent in three of four functional categories (eating, dressing, toileting, washing), and be living at home with the parent or guardian. Disabled children in certain categories qualify without an assessment, such as those with palliative conditions (disabilities than can only be managed, not improved or cured), or children receiving direct nursing care through Nursing Support Services.

How To Apply

An application can be found here, or you can pick one up at the MCFD Regional Office nearest you.

(BC) School Aged Therapy Program

Toll-Free: 1-800-663-7867 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-663-7867 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

This program is meant for students with developmental disabilities by providing occupational and physiotherapy services to help them gain independence and achieve their educational potential.

The program focuses on supporting children within the school setting, where therapists work with teachers to ensure access to and participation in learning opportunities. Services are also provided for the home and community settings.

Eligibility

Children who have or are at risk for a developmental delay or disability and display a “demonstrated need” have access to the program for as long as they are attending school.

How To Apply

Funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), these services are available to any eligible child. Contact your school district for information on how to obtain the service.

(BC) Early Intervention Therapy Program

Vancouver: 604-586-4100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 604-586-4100 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Another program for children at risk of poor school performance and development problems, the Early Intervention program provides a comprehensive slate of services and support for children who have not yet entered school. Services are provided in the home and in community settings such as preschool and childcare centres, and include:

  • Assessment
  • Screening
  • Referral
  • Family education and support
  • Service planning
  • Direct therapeutic intervention (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech pathology, etc.)
  • Consultation
  • Monitoring
  • Transition planning to school and/or other services

Eligibility

Children having, or at risk for, developmental disabilities or delays from birth to school entry age.

How To Apply

Anyone can refer a child for this program, which is administered by community-based organizations. Contact the Ministry of Children and Family Development in your area for more information.

(CAN) Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities

General Inquiries: 613-952-1220 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 613-952-1220 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program is a community-based children’s program delivered by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). It focuses on early childhood development for First Nation, Inuit and Métis children and their families living off-reserve.

The program is individually developed for each community where it exists, but typically will include the following components in a structured half-day preschool format:

  • Aboriginal culture and language
  • Education and school readiness
  • Health promotion
  • Nutrition
  • Social support
  • Parental involvement

The program is free.

Eligibility

Any family from one of the populations mentioned who lives off-reserve is eligible to apply. There is a similar program in place for on-reserve families, the Aboriginal Head Start On-Reserve.

How To Apply

To see if programs exist in your area, and to inquire about registration and transportation, contact the PHAC regional office nearest you.

(CAN) Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

Toll-Free: 1-800-267-3100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-267-3100 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

An RESP is a great way to start saving early for your child’s education. For one thing, having an RESP in place makes your child eligible for various grants that can then be deposited into the RESP; for another, income generated from the contributions is not taxable as long as it remains in the RESP. Parents, relatives, and friends of a beneficiary may also contribute, up to a lifetime limit of $50,000 per child.

Funds from the RESP are disbursed for qualified educational purposes: full- or part-time studies in an apprenticeship program, a CEGEP, trade school, college or university. Students will pay taxes on income disbursed from the fund, but not on contribution amounts.

The RESP account remains open for 36 years from inception, so there’s no pressure on you or your child to start or finish school on a tight schedule. If for some reason the funds are not used for your child’s education, the contributions are returned to you as tax-free income.

Eligibility:

Both the subscriber and the beneficiary(ies) must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

How To Apply:

You (the subscriber) need to choose a promoter (the entity that will administer the savings plan and disburse funds). Information on RESP application procedures is available from most financial institutions.

  • Important: research your options first. Some promoters may not offer all the programs for which you are eligible. This can mean giving up free money for your child, or embarking on a longish process of changing promoters and transferring your account. Visit this website to see what you need to know before choosing a promoter.

(CAN) Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

Toll-Free:1- 800-622-6232 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1- 800-622-6232 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

This federal grant makes a payment of 20% on RESP contributions for an eligible beneficiary, up until the age of 17.

For families with low to middle-income, there is also an Additional CESG (A-CESG) over and above the basic CESG described above. This grant will add either 10% or 20%, depending on family income, to the first $500 contributed to the beneficiary’s RESP each calendar year, up until the end of the year in which the child turns 17. Year 2010 income limits are $41,544.00 (for the 20% grant) and $83,088 (for the 10% grant).

Eligibility:

All children up to age 17 are eligible for the basic CESG, as long as they are Canadian residents and have an RESP. There are special rules for children age 15-17. These rules and other information can be found at the link above.

How To Apply:

Your RESP provider should automatically ensure that the basic CESG grant is being deposited in your child’s RESP.

One of the considerations when choosing a provider (also known as a promoter) is to ensure they offer the A-CESG if you qualify by income. If you’ve already opened an RESP and your provider does not offer this grant, you will have to transfer the RESP to one who does, in order to apply.

(CAN) Canada Learning Bond (CLB)

Toll-Free:1- 800-622-6232 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1- 800-622-6232 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Another incentive program from the federal government to help make starting an RESP an easy choice for families on a limited budget.

This program will deposit $500 into your child’s RESP regardless of any contributions you do or do not make. Each year thereafter until your child reaches age 15, $100 will be deposited into the RESP. (An extra $25 will be provided to help offset any costs associated with setting up the RESP.) That’s up to $2000 plus interest provided for your child’s education after high school.

Eligibility

To qualify for this bond program:

  • · Your child must have been born after December 31, 2003
  • · You must be receiving the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) as part of the Canada Child Tax Benefit (also known as “family allowance” or “baby bonus”).

How To Apply

Just open an RESP for your child (a SIN will be required). When selecting an RESP provider/promoter, remember to verify that they offer this bond first. If you anticipate contributing to your child’s RESP at any point in the future, make sure the RESP provider also offers the A-CESG if you believe your income will qualify you for that additional grant amount.

Divorce, Separation and Maintenance

(BC) Family Justice Counsellors

Toll-Free: 1-800-663-7867 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-663-7867 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

This network of trained mediators is a first level of recourse for British Columbians undergoing separation or divorce, and having disagreements about custody, access, guardianship or support. The goal of this resource is to resolve these issues without resorting to court and the subsequent expense, complication and increased stress associated with that step.

Although these counsellers cannot offer legal advice, they can refer clients to competent representation. They are also familiar with the court-based family justice system and can provide guidance through that system if your dispute has already reached the courts.

Eligibility

The service is free, but please be respectful of the counsellers’ time and expertise: prepare for a meeting by fulfilling the steps they suggest to be sure your first meeting is necessary and productive.

One of those steps is to attend a Parenting After Separation class to inform yourself of issues surrounding support and maintenance. The classes are free and some exemptions are offered.

How To Apply

There is no application per se; once you’ve completed the preparation steps suggested at the link above, call the Family Justice Centre nearest you to set up a meeting.

(BC) Family Maintenance Program

Toll-Free: 1-800-663-3455 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-663-3455 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The Ministry of Social Development’s Family Maintenance Program will assist you in receiving the maintenance order you are entitled to under the Child Support Guidelines.

This agency steps in when a non-custodial parent does not fulfill his or her obligations to support the children in situations of divorce/separation. In this case, your family may turn to the BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) for help. When you become a client of the BCEA, you assign your maintenance rights to the government, meaning that you are relieved of the responsibility and expense of obtaining support payments.

Once you become a BCEA client, you will be referred to a family maintenance worker, who will interact with all necessary groups to obtain, change, defend and enforce your maintenance order. The worker will perform an assessment to gather initial information, and can also refer you to counselling and support services where necessary.

Once you have a legal maintenance order, the collection and payment of support is handled through the Ministry of Attorney General’s Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (see below).

Eligibility

You must be a client of the BCEA to qualify for the Family Maintenance Program.

How To Apply

For more information about the BC Employment and Assistance (Income Assistance) program, including how to apply, click here.

(BC) Family Maintenance Enforcement Program

Toll-Free: 1-800-663-3455 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-663-3455 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

This agency monitors and enforces all maintenance orders and agreements that are filed with it.  You may want to file your maintenance order with this program if:

  • Your former spouse/partner is often late or is resistant to making payments
  • He or she has moved and stopped making payments, or payments have become erratic or insufficient.
  • You wish to turn over the responsibility for collection of payments to another party.

If you are a recipient of BC Income Assistance, your maintenance order is automatically assigned to collection via the FMEP. Otherwise, it’s your choice as to whether to initiate enrolment.

Eligibility

Either the payor of support or the recipient may enroll in this program, as long as they:

  • Live in BC
  • Have a valid support order or written agreement filed with any court in Canada, the U.S., or any other country with which BC has an agreement regarding enforcement of maintenance support.

How To Apply

Request a filing kit from any FMEP office, or pick one up in person from any of the  Provincial Courthouses.

Parenting, Child Care and Family Benefits

(BC) Natal Supplements

Toll-Free: 1-866-866-0800 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-866-866-0800 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

This program provides a monthly benefit of  $45 per month to mothers of unborn and young children, in an effort to ensure better pre- and post-natal nutrition and care.

Eligibility

Mothers must receive Income Assistance and either be pregnant, or have an infant up to seven months old.

How To Apply

Contact your case worker at BC Employment and Assistance for information. If you need to apply to BCEA for assistance, click here.

(CAN) Nobody’s Perfect

General Inquiries: 1-613-952-1220 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-613-952-1220 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Nobody’s Perfect is a parenting education and support program for parents of young children. Parents who are young, single, isolated geographically or socially, or who have low income and education levels may not have had access to the kind of parenting information that will help their child thrive. This program, offered as a series of six to eight weekly group sessions, is designed for just such parents.

Materials are free, and trained facilitators (community workers, other parents and public health nurses) help participants work together to discover positive parenting techniques. The program is based on the principles of adult education—building on what these capable adults already know and do, then involving them in the learning process to expand on those capabilities. The network formed by this learning process provides a source of advice and support that can carry well beyond the weekly meetings.

Eligibility

Parents of children age birth to 5 years

How To Apply

Contact a provincial coordinator at this website.

(CAN) Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)

Toll-Free: 1-800-387-1193 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-387-1193 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The Canada Child Tax Benefit is a tax‑free, monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. The amount of this benefit is calculated using the information you provide on your income tax returns. The benefit comprises two parts:

  1. The National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), the federal government’s contribution to the National Child Benefit.
  2. The CCTB may also include the Child Disability Benefit (CDB), a monthly benefit for qualified families caring for children with severe and prolonged mental or physical impairments.

Eligibility:

  • Child must be under age 18
  • Child must live with you and you are the child’s caregiver (there are provisions for shared and temporary custodianship)
  • You must be a resident of Canada
  • You (or your partner) must be a Canadian citizen or a recognized legal resident with a period of established residency (more information at the program website).

How To Apply:

You should apply for the CCTB as soon as possible after any of these events:

  • Your child is born
  • A child begins to live with you
  • You become a resident of Canada

Don’t assume you are ineligible because your family income seems too high. The eligibility calculations can be complex and you might be missing a detail that qualifies you. Apply regardless and see what the agency comes up with.

There are three ways to apply for the CCTB:

  1. If you consented to use the Automated Benefits Application Service (ABA) on the birth registration form when your child was born, you should have all the information you need to apply using this service. It is important to verify whether or not you provided this consent—if you apply for benefits using one of the next two methods, and you are already a registered ABA user, your benefits may be delayed. See how to use the ABA here.
  2. You can fill out a form and mail it in. For the form and address, see here.
  3. You can apply online here.

For the CDB (the benefit for families having a disabled child), see more information below.

(CAN) Child Disability Benefit (CDB)

Toll Free: 1-800-387-1193 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-387-1193 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The Child Disability Benefit (CDB) is a tax-free benefit, paid monthly, of up to $2470 per year ($205.83 per month) for families who care for a child under age 18 with a major disability. This could be a physical or mental impairment that can be classified as “severe and prolonged” (lasting, or expected to last, at least 12 months).

Eligibility

Families who are eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit will receive the CDB only if the child is also eligible for the disability amount, also known as the Disability Tax Credit. Determining eligibility for the disability amount is the first step, and requires a doctor’s certification that the child’s impairment meets certain conditions.

How To Apply

A special form must be completed by both you and a qualified practitioner attesting to the child’s disability. If Canada Revenue Agency approves that form, then the CDP payments will begin.

The special form to complete is called T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate, and can be found here.

Send the completed form to your tax centre after you have filed your taxes for the year, to avoid a delay in assessment.

(CAN) Universal Child Care Benefit

Toll-Free: 1-800-622-6232 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-622-6232 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

This taxable benefit is paid to parents in monthly instalments of $100 per month per child under the age of six. The benefit is available to any Canadian family with young children, no matter where you live or what your financial situation. You can use the payment for any child care-related expense, whether it be out-of-home care, to help pay for pre-school programs or educational materials, or even apply it toward an education fund (RESP or RDSP).

Payment is made monthly directly to the lower-earning parent. The “taxability” of the benefit has recently been improved so that single-parent families receive tax treatment comparable to two-parent families. Joint custody provisions will soon be added to make it easier for parents to share the amount received.

Eligibility:

  • You must be the primary caregiver of a child under 6 years of age on or after July 1, 2006
  • You must be a resident of Canada

How to Apply:

If your family is already receiving/has qualified for the Canada Child Tax Benefit then you will automatically receive the UCCB. There is no need to apply separately.

There are three ways to apply:

  1. Through the Canada Revenue Agency website.
  2. At a Service Canada Centre. Find the centre closest to you.
  3. By phoning 1-800-387-1193 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-387-1193 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

(BC) BC Family Bonus

Toll-Free: 1-800-663-7867 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-663-7867 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

For low and modest-income families, this non-taxable benefit provides a monthly payment to help families raising children. It is a BC supplement to the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB).

The program has two components:

  • Basic Family Bonus is a straight benefit of up to $111 per child, per month (when combined with the CCTB). Benefits are calculated on the family’s net income.
  • BC Earned Income Benefit is for families whose earned income is more than $3,750.

Any benefit is calculated automatically based on your tax returns, and a single payment for all (CCTB, and one or both of the BC Family Bonus components) is made once per month.

Eligibility

Any family receiving or eligible to receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is also eligible for the BC Family Bonus.

How To Apply

There is no application for this program. If you already receive the CCTB, any benefit through this program will be added to that payment. If you need to apply for the CCTB, you should do that now.

(BC) Child Care Subsidy

Toll-Free: 1-800 663-7867 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800 663-7867 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Helping parents pay for quality, safe, accessible child care is the aim of this subsidy. Depending on your circumstances, the benefit may partially or wholly cover your child care costs. Your eligibility will be determined when your application is reviewed by program staff.

Eligibility

To receive this benefit, you must:

  • Live in BC
  • Have a recognized residency status (citizen, permanent resident, protected immigrant, etc.)
  • Have an eligible child care arrangement in BC such as at a licensed or registered centre, preschool, or in your own home.
  • Have a valid reason for needing child care, such as working, looking for work, attending school, etc.
  • Have a financial need. Your income will be assessed.

You can access an online eligibility evaluator to see if you will qualify for this benefit.

How To Apply

There are a few different forms to fill out to make the application for this benefit. See the full application instructions and forms list, as well as additional information, here.

(CAN) Child Rearing Drop-Out Provision (CRDP)

Toll-Free: 1-800-277-9114 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-277-9114 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

When you retire or become disabled, you become eligible to receive basic benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). In the event of your death, these benefits transfer to your partner and/or children. Naturally, you will want this monthly benefit to be calculated to your advantage wherever possible.

The benefit amount is calculated on how much and how long you paid into the pension plan; however, certain life events cause people to “drop out” of earning at their full potential for some period of time. One of these events is child rearing. The CRDP is a provision to exclude such a period from your earnings calculations, so that your ultimate CPP benefit is not reduced

Eligibility

The CRDP can only be used for months where:

  • Your family received National Child Benefit Supplement (also known as “family allowance” or “baby bonus”) payments or were eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (even if you did not receive the benefit)

And

  • Your earnings were lower because you either stopped working, or worked fewer hours to be the primary caregiver of a dependent child under the age of seven

And

  • That child was born after December 31, 1958

How To Apply

Apply for the CRDP at the same time you apply for any CPP benefit. You should apply at least six months before you would like to start receiving the benefit.

Applications are available online here.

You may also stop at any Service Canada Centre for a kit. Find the Centre nearest you.

(CAN) Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Children’s Benefits

Toll-Free: 1-800-277-9914 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-277-9914 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

CPP Children’s Benefits provide a monthly benefit to the dependent children of disabled or deceased contributors. Your rates will vary based on your parent’s contributions, but averages and maximums can be investigated at this link.

Eligibility:

For you to be eligible for Children’s Benefits, your parent must have made sufficient contributions to the CPP. Also, if you are between 18 and 25, you must be attending school full time at a recognized institution. Children under 18 do not have to be in school to be eligible.

How To Apply

You should apply when you first become aware that your parent has applied for a disability benefit, or should your parent die.

Information and links to application forms can be found here.

(CAN) Employment Insurance (EI)

Toll-Free: 1-800-206-7218 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-206-7218 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Employment Insurance provides regular benefits to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs) and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job. There’s no way to tell in advance of application what your benefit will be, but the basic rate is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings. At present, the maximum amount is $468 per week (based on the maximum yearly insurable amount of $44, 200).

Benefits are provided for a period of from 14 to 45 weeks, depending on unemployment rates in your region and the number of insurable work hours you accumulated during the 52 weeks preceding your claim. If you should find work before exhausting your benefit, the remainder can be “reactivated” for you to use again should another layoff occur.

While you are receiving benefits, you must be actively looking for work and keeping a written record of employer contacts.

Eligibility

You may be eligible for this benefit if you:

  • Have paid EI premiums (through paycheck deductions during periods of employment)
  • Lost your employment through no fault of your own
  • Have been without work and pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
  • Have worked for the required number of insurance hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim (whichever is shorter)

How To Apply

The application for EI regular benefits is completed online (whether you do it from home, from a Service Canada Centre, or from some public internet access point) and could take up to an hour. Review the instructions beforehand to make sure you have all required information and documentation.

(CAN) Employment Insurance Family Supplement

Toll-Free: 1-800-206-7218 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-206-7218 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The Family Supplement is a feature of Employment Insurance (EI) that provides additional benefits to low-income families with children when a caregiver loses his or her job.

The maximum Family Supplement will reach as high as 80% of your average insurable earnings.

As your income level rises, the Family Supplement gradually decreases, so that when the maximum income of $25,921 is reached no supplement is payable.

Eligibility

If your family receives the Canada Child Tax Benefit, then you are eligible to receive the supplement on qualifying income levels.

How To Apply

No application is necessary—if you are eligible, the Family Supplement will automatically be added to your EI benefit.

One response on “Financial Assistance for Single Mothers in British Columbia

  1. Hello,

    I am a single parent and need to pay for child care for the summer for my 5 year daughter because I work. I don’t qualify for subsidy and am wondering if there is any help out there? Not sure where do and what I need to do.

    Thank you,
    Chantal

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