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Finding Maternity Grants

Vilma Ruddock
pregnant woman worrying about bills

Pregnant women who have financial difficulties can apply for maternity grants that cover a range of needs. You get funds or other types of grants if you can show proof of your eligibility and meet the qualifications for the grant. Ask your healthcare providers for help because they often know the sources of grant aid.

Finding Grants When You Are Pregnant

If you are pregnant and lack resources, and you are looking for help:

  • Your main source of grants and other assistance will come from federal or state government funding.
  • You may also find help from a few private, charitable sources.
  • Only a few grants are awarded directly to individuals in the form of small amounts of cash and other awards.
  • Other grants come indirectly through the maternity services or agencies you use.
  • Try searching for grants online through grants.gov. Although most of the grants are awarded to groups and organizations, you might find grants for individuals, for example, to help you start a home business. These grants take time and effort to research and apply for but will be worth it if you qualify.

How to Access Maternity Grants

You can access grant sources in several ways:

  • When you sign up for prenatal care, many hospitals or community prenatal clinics and other maternity care providers have on-site personnel to help you apply for maternity aid or direct you to the right place.
  • Ask your doctor, midwife, or nurse for information on how to access government maternity grants if they don't mention them, as well as referrals to community or private agencies that give grants and other help to pregnant women.
  • Contact your state or local government grant providers directly by searching for their information under Human Services, Family Services, or Children's Services in the yellow pages or online.
  • Look in your local newspapers, magazines, or library for ads to local groups or individuals who offer private funding. Double check these sources with your healthcare providers to ensure they are legitimate.

Types of Grants

Depending on the source, the degree of your need, and your eligibility, the kinds of grants you can get include:

  • Coverage for health insurance and medication
  • Cash for food, clothing, and other personal items
  • Vouchers or a debit card for healthy food
  • Assistance for housing and utilities
  • Baby clothes and furniture
  • Car seat with child safety training
  • Child care, parenting, and other personal counseling
  • College education grants

Documentation Required

In general, you will need all or some of the following documentation to be considered for a grant:

  • Proof of income or unemployment
  • Proof of pregnancy
  • Proof of residency in the state, such as a utility bill
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate or U. S. naturalization form)
  • Proof of permanent residency (green card) if not a citizen
  • Proof of identity (driver's licence, social security card, birth certificate)

Government Grants

The United States federal government provides maternity and other general grants for unemployed and low-income people, and for others who need emergency financial help. Pregnant women get priority for many of the general grants, and those with the greatest need may be able to get quicker help.

Grants come from federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Federal grants are managed through state or local offices, such as divisions of your Department of Health or the Public Welfare Services. Other maternity grants are state-funded, or states add matching funds to federal grants.

Medicaid Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage is one of the most important concerns you will have when you get pregnant. If you don't have health insurance, you may be eligible for Medicaid - a federal health insurance grant from DHHS for unemployed or low-income families. It is administered and granted either through your state's Department of Health or through its Welfare Services office.

Important information to know about Medicaid coverage includes:

  • Your pregnancy makes you eligible because of your medical necessity
  • To qualify you have to meet your state's income eligibility criteria- generally you can't make more than 185 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines, but the limit varies by state
  • The insurance grant covers you and your baby during your pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum for up to 60 days
  • The insurance often covers the cost of a car seat
  • Most maternity providers in hospitals or community health centers and some private prenatal care providers will have information on accessing Medicaid and will help you apply

Women, Infants and Children Program

Good nutrition is a priority when you are pregnant, and the government recognizes this. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a federal program from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The WIC program for at-risk pregnant and postpartum women and their infants and children is usually administered by your state's Department of Health.

Most often, your prenatal clinic or doctor's office will help you apply for WIC, or your can contact your state or local WIC office. Because of limited funds, women and infants who have the most nutritional and health needs are given priority for aid. Your WIC grant may include:

  • A debit card to buy healthy foods
  • Healthy eating education
  • Breastfeeding teaching and support
  • Parenting classes
  • A free car seat for your newborn. Before you can get one, you have to attend a short class to learn about car seat safety, how to secure one in your car, and how to properly secure your baby in the seat.
  • Access to other state and federal financial assistance agencies and community resources

A WIC grant covers pregnant women up to six months after giving birth or up to a year if you are breastfeeding. Nutrition for a newborn continues up to a year after delivery and for other eligible children up to age five.

Title V Maternity and Child Health Services Grant

Title V Maternity and Child Health Services is described as a "federal-state partnership" to improve access to health care services for women, mothers, and children. Every year, Congress awards grants through DHHS to each state based on their number of low-income families. The states match a certain amount of the federal dollars and disburse the funds through their health departments to serve the maternity and child health needs of their community.

You benefit from this grant if you obtain free or reduced-fee prenatal services and children's health care from a government-funded health center in your community. To access this grant, call or visit your community hospital or a health center that serves your neighborhood to ask for help.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

If you have other children and have a greater need, you may be eligible for other grants and assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), (formerly Aid to Families with Dependent Children). This is a state-run program that grants federal aid to eligible low-income or unemployed families.

Grants are accessed through your state's local Public Welfare Services office, usually listed in the phone book under Human or Family Services. You go to your local office for an interview and provide the documentation your state requires. You might also be able to access these grants when you apply for WIC so you can get the maximum help you qualify for. TANF benefits include:

  • A debit card ("food stamps") to get healthy food through the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Cash grants for personal needs, such as maternity clothing
  • Grant funds for education
  • Job counseling, career guidance, and computer access to search for jobs
  • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grant to help you pay for:
    • Utilities, including light, heat, electricity, gas

    • Air conditioning if there is proof of medical necessity

  • Assistance to cover your rent or mortgage or to find housing

You must meet state-based federal income guidelines to be eligible for these grants.

Federal Housing Grants

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a federal government-funded, state-administered housing program that grants housing aid for low-income families. Pregnant women who can show proof of low income can get priority for housing assistance, which may include access to:

  • Privately owned subsidized housing where the money is given to owner to offset the market rent
  • Public housing projects administered by a local agency
  • Vouchers you use to pay for all or part of rental housing
  • Grants to help cover down payment on a house or for home renovations to accommodate your child

Look at the information online at hud.gov for how to apply, or contact your state's Department of Children and Family Services. You may also get access to this grant if you apply to TANF.

Federal Education Grants and Loans

If you need financial assistance to enroll or continue in school while you are pregnant, the United States' Department of Education offers education grants and low-interest loans. You must be a U. S. citizen or permanent resident to be eligible. The earlier you apply, the better your chance to get the amount you need.

Federal education grants include:

  • Pell Grant: The maximum awarded for the undergraduate college Pell grant varies by year but is $5,815 in the 2016-2017 school year. You apply online by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • FSEOG: The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is given to students who have the most need. Grants vary from $100 to $4000 per year and are administered by each participating college. You must complete the FAFSA to be considered for this grant, which is often awarded with the Pell grant
  • TEACH: The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant awards up to $4,000 to those who agree to teach in a school in a low-income area for four years after graduation. Complete the FAFSA to apply. Note that you will have to pay back the grant if you don't fulfill the agreement.

In addition to federal grants, many states offer student financial aid through the states' department of education or other agencies. You can find information online for your state. In addition, ask your college's financial aid office about their grant funding.

Other Sources of Maternity Grants and Aid

Check out nonprofit and other charitable organizations that may offer individual grants or other aid to pregnant women and others in need. These groups include:

  • Hospitals: Grant funds may be available from your hospital, either through private funding for pregnant women or from government funding of a maternity research project. Groups such as "Friends of the Hospital" raise funds for special hospital projects and may award maternity grants.
  • Community nonprofit groups: Some of these groups get private or federal or state grants to help low-income people with various health or psychosocial needs. Ask your healthcare providers for information about these community resources, which might include food banks.
  • Other community help: Ask your church, community center, city hall, or police department if they offer grants for food or items such as a car seat or baby clothes
  • Catholic Charities USA: Their mission is to help all people in need. Contact the local office in your state to find out what grants are available or other help you can get.

  • Salvation Army: They assist families and children in need, including help with food, shelter, and housing. Use the drop-down menu on their website to search for a location near you.

  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE): This group offers scholarships to women in undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering and computer sciences. To be eligible, you must be a U. S. citizen or permanent resident, have at least a 3.5 GPA, and be already accepted in a school. Apply through the SWE website.

Ask for Help

When you are pregnant and have financial struggles, a maternity grant or other assistance can ease your burdens. The process can be challenging, so don't hesitate to ask for help. Apply for all the types of aid you need so you can lessen the stress of taking care of yourself, your baby, and your family.

Finding Maternity Grants