Rights and financial help for single parents

Many single parents are familiar with this vicious circle: they would like to work, but potential employers are skeptical or there is no suitable childcare available. So they stay with their child and thus often have financial problems. It is understandable that many single parents cannot make ends meet without outside help. In the following we summarize which rights are important for single parents and which financial help is available for single parents.

Financial help for single parents

Here we give an overview of the types of financial help that are available specifically for single parents. We’ve also listed common financial benefits that single parents benefit from:

Relief amount for single parents

Single parents are entitled to a relief amount of €1,908 per year. This amount increases by €240 for each additional child. For this, the child must belong to the household of the single parent and be entitled to child benefit or a child allowance. In order to receive the relief contribution, you should be in tax class 2 as a single parent, so you can already secure the exempt amount when you deduct wage tax. If you have more than one child, you should apply to the tax office for a supplement (of €240) to the relief amount by completing the application for income tax reduction. However, the relief amount is only paid once a year, even if there are several children.

Maintenance advance as a help for single parents

Single parents who receive no or only irregular maintenance from the separated partner, the child is under the age of 12 and the single parent lives in Germany receive an advance maintenance payment. This support is applied for at the maintenance advance office, which is usually part of the youth welfare office. You can obtain the application form and the leaflet on advance maintenance payments from the city, municipal or district administration. The amount of the maintenance advance is €150 per month for children under the age of 6 and €201 per month for children between the ages of 6 and 12. And, which is a new decision for 2017, children up to 18 years get 268€. The full child benefit for a first child is deducted from the minimum maintenance.

housing benefit

If you are a single parent and have a low income and do not receive any benefits such as unemployment benefit II or social assistance, you can apply for housing benefit. This is to help cover the housing costs. Another factor for entitlement to housing benefit is the number of members in the household. You can find out from the municipal housing benefit office whether you can be supported with housing benefit. Here you will find a link to a housing benefit calculator.

Tax deductible child care costs

The costs for public facilities such as day-care centers, kindergartens or after-school clubs mostly depend on income and place of residence and can range from €0 to €600 per month. It is often possible to apply to the youth welfare office for a reduction in parental contributions.

Private care or membership in a parents’ initiative usually costs more, but also bring advantages such as better care times and intensity. As a guide, you can assume €5.50 per hour for a childminder or €7.50 to €10 per hour for a nanny. If you have a very low income, if you are studying or still in training, you can also apply for a subsidy for the costs of a childminder in the form of economic help from the youth welfare office.

Also, many family-friendly employers offer financial support for the care of non-school children. More and more employers are also setting up company childcare.

Single parents can deduct two-thirds of the childcare costs incurred, for example, by a childminder or an au pair, up to a maximum of €4,000 per year. As a rule, childcare costs can be claimed up to the age of 14, unless the child is unable to look after itself due to a disability. In this case there is no age limit. In our article “ Deducting childcare costs from tax ” we provide tips and information about the requirements and simplified regulations from 2012.

maternity allowance

During maternity leave, it is possible to receive maternity benefit as a wage replacement payment. In our special maternity allowance , we have summarized the requirements you have to meet in order to receive maternity allowance and how it is calculated.

parental allowance

Not only working mothers are entitled to parental allowance, but also those who are studying, in training or unemployed. A mother is entitled to between a minimum of €300 and a maximum of €1,800 per month, depending on her income before the birth. In addition, you then have the right to receive parental allowance for longer, i.e. for 14 instead of 12 months. In our special on the subject of parental allowance , we have presented the exact requirements and calculation bases.

child support

Parents are entitled to child benefit as a basic provision for every child. It is at least €192 per month for the first and second child and increases to a maximum of €223 for each additional child. Single parents usually receive the full child benefit amount. If the ex-partner reliably meets his maintenance obligations, he can deduct 50% of the child benefit from his maintenance payments. We have summarized further information in the article “ Child benefit ”.

child supplement

Single parents who work have the option of receiving a child allowance in addition to child benefit. This child supplement is an alternative to unemployment benefit II. Whether it is worth it depends on various factors that are not easy to assess. We have therefore compiled all the conditions and calculation bases in detail in our article “ The child supplement ” and provided them with examples.

child allowance

Child allowances are an alternative to child benefit and total €7,356 per year or €3,678 for each parent if they are separated. Child allowances come into effect when a single mother earns €33,000 or more per year. The father of the child can apply for half of the child allowance to be transferred if he does not meet at least 75% of his maintenance obligations. We have put together more on this topic in the article “ The Child Allowance ”.

unemployment benefit

Unfortunately, many single parents are unemployed or their monthly income is not sufficient, meaning that they are also dependent on unemployment benefit I or II. In principle, you are entitled to it if you are unemployed, have registered with the employment agency as a job seeker and have fulfilled a certain qualifying period. Since the legal situation regarding unemployment benefits is not easy to understand and many of the other benefits mentioned are dependent on unemployment benefits, it is best to seek individual advice from your responsible employment agency.

social benefit

As a recipient of unemployment benefit II (Hartz IV), you can also apply for social benefits for your child as a single parent. It is €237 for children up to the age of 6, €291 for children up to the age of 14 and €311 for young people between the ages of 14 and 17. Young adults over the age of 18 who are under 25 and live with their parents or people between the ages of 15 and under 25 who have moved without a guarantee from the municipal authority receive EUR 327.00.

social care

Social assistance includes living expenses, for example food, clothing, accommodation or heating costs. As a single mother, you may be entitled to social assistance. Single parents can apply if they are unable to work more than three hours a day, for example because the child cannot be looked after. In addition, the applicant must not be fully disabled and the child must not be older than 15 years. It is best to inquire directly with the social welfare office whether an application for social assistance could be worthwhile.

Other help for single parents

In addition to financial help, single parents can often also benefit from other offers from employers and legislators. Here we have put together an overview that can make the everyday life of a single parent easier beyond the financial:

Time off for a sick child

Single parents can be given 20 days off work if their child is ill and under the age of 12. To do this, however, they must be insured with a statutory health insurance company and present a medical certificate that proves the necessity of their care work. More information can be found in our article “ What to do if the child is sick? “.

Home help

If you are a single parent who has to go to the hospital and has a child under the age of 12, you are entitled to domestic help. It is often also possible to get domestic help if an illness is cured at home.

Mother Child cure

Preventive and rehabilitation cures are mandatory benefits of the statutory health insurance. Numerous clinics and facilities run by the mothers’ convalescent facility also offer therapy options specifically for single parents. When you go to the spa, you have the right to a family nurse who takes care of the child at home. However, it is usually the case that children accompany their mothers to the cure. Most of the costs for a mother-child cure, which usually lasts 21 days, are covered by the responsible health insurance company, but there is an additional payment of €10 per day. For children up to the age of 12, the costs are also borne by the health insurance company if the child does not come with you. The regional associations of the association for single mothers and fathers or the mothers’ recovery organization provide information about the various offers. The responsible doctor decides on the entitlement to a cure. We also have more on this topic in our article “Mother-child cure ” summarized.

Maternity Protection

The Maternity Protection Act applies to all pregnant women who are in a contractually regulated employment relationship with an employer. It is irrelevant whether you will later be a single parent or live in a partnership. Maternity protection includes, for example, protective measures at the workplace, special protection against dismissal and protection periods before and after the birth. We have compiled all important information in detail in our special maternity leave .

maternity leave

Unfortunately, there are still prejudices against single mothers in the working world. If parental leave is planned, it is advisable to plan your return to work with your employer at an early stage. Perhaps the parental leave can be used for further qualification, which opens up opportunities for a better position after returning to work. In principle, mothers are entitled to up to three years of parental leave. We have outlined the deadlines and requirements to be observed in our special on parental leave.

Alternative: grandparent leave

In the case of minors who attend school or are in the last or penultimate year of training and who started this training before the age of 18, there is the possibility that the grandparents will be released from their work to look after the children. For this, the child must live in the grandparents’ household. There is also an entitlement to parental leave if the parent of the child is unable to look after their own child due to a serious illness. The same applies if the parent is deceased or suffers from a severe disability. However, the grandparents do not receive any financial compensation, but the young mother is entitled to parental allowance of at least €300. If one of these special situations is the case, the grandparents are entitled to parental leave.


Well-functioning childcare is particularly important if you are a single mother and want to return to work as soon as possible after the birth. But even if you do not work and are flexible in your time management, it is advisable to have the child looked after by other people and to encourage contact with other children. This not only has a positive effect on the development and social behavior of a child, it can also mean relief and more time for yourself.

Childcare 0-3 year olds:

With the Child Support Act that came into force in 2008 to increase childcare options for 0 to 3-year-olds and the legal entitlement to a childcare place from 2013for children in this age group, important foundations have already been laid. Nevertheless, a lack of childcare options is often the reason why single mothers with children under the age of 3 cannot work. The opening hours of day care centers are also often difficult to reconcile with working hours, for example if you are self-employed or have to work late in the evening and at weekends in retail. It is of no use that single mothers are given preferential treatment when allocating childcare places. Without additional private help, for example from grandparents, very few single mothers can reconcile work and childcare. Basically, the following care options are available:

We have compiled important information about the costs and advantages and disadvantages of these childcare options in our special on U3 childcare .


Although children from the age of 3 have a legal right to a place in a kindergarten, there are also many differences in terms of what is on offer and opening times. For example, afternoon care is often not offered, or there is only the option of having the child looked after for a few hours. So it is often necessary to organize additional private care. Further information on selection criteria and costs can be found in our special kindergarten .

After school care:

In addition to the private forms of childcare already mentioned, some schools offer school-age children the option of being cared for in an after-school care center after class. Single parents are given preference when allocating places. However, such places are rare. For this reason, you should apply for an after-school care place early on. An alternative option is an all-day school. We have more information on this topic in our article “ All-day school: yes or no? ” summarized.

Independent advice centers

Single parents can also get detailed advice from the responsible office, for example the youth welfare office or the employment agency. However, it often makes sense to go to an independent advice center that can provide comprehensive advice tailored to your personal situation. This can be, for example, a social or family counseling center of a non-profit association or welfare association. The responsible youth welfare office usually provides information about which counseling centers are nearby.

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