2022’s Best Cities for Single Moms

A mom sits on the couch, trying to work on her laptop while her children run around

Motherhood is a challenge, especially if you’re alone. That’s why living in a supportive environment can make a world of difference for a single mother. 

So, which cities set up single moms for success? 

LawnStarter ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Single Moms to find out where single moms are thriving and where they might need some help.

We compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on 36 key metrics. We looked for safe, affordable cities with ample child care and community support, high-quality education and health care, and a decent work-life balance. 

See where your city stands below, followed by some highlights, lowlights, and expert tips.


City Rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreAffordability RankChild Care RankHealth and Education RankHome and Outdoors RankWork-Life Balance RankCommunity Support Rank
1Roseville, CA59.4911548523178
2Naperville, IL58.81465618356
3Portland, OR56.66821261067675
4Overland Park, KS56.36245210130187
5Eugene, OR56.127310952963181
6Madison, WI55.7887593770165
7Irvine, CA55.201021703241513
8Sioux Falls, SD55.14231577126168
9Lincoln, NE53.813521432105183
10Buffalo, NY53.7817910010913915
11Rochester, NY53.591711021279146
12Omaha, NE53.482542316123117
13Frisco, TX53.13349760134161
14Salem, OR53.03135991131085141
15Syracuse, NY52.921971106434820
16Minneapolis, MN52.87421316746766
17Worcester, MA52.551421934461153
18Elk Grove, CA52.437161303844198
19Sunnyvale, CA52.41919521732130
20Olathe, KS52.1913631219119128
21Fort Collins, CO52.1533139298743171
22Boston, MA51.991951851817478
23Boise City, ID51.9419312015121152
24Providence, RI51.0917812813350752
25Springfield, MA50.821901661495221
26Lexington, KY50.2510732748104180
27Spokane, WA50.2084141698425151
28Scottsdale, AZ50.191090251569354
29St. Paul, MN50.147113210266893
30Fremont, CA50.1065200132212188
31Bellevue, WA50.093118333934689
32Salt Lake City, UT49.973922802999122
33San Francisco, CA49.7829196382649130
34Seattle, WA49.7561181285537159
35McKinney, TX49.6726711112168149
36Charleston, SC49.644361114612987
37Greensboro, NC49.623853126458132
38San Diego, CA49.42105176261251798
39Sacramento, CA49.2775162556936147
40Chesapeake, VA49.2016114462312470
41Des Moines, IA49.1312464720163153
42Joliet, IL49.131893997880110
43Orange, CA48.8397175491321397
44Baton Rouge, LA48.8216014191337848
45Murfreesboro, TN48.815598190115200
46Lakewood, CO48.6857142176671173
47Santa Rosa, CA48.6898192351091686
48Anchorage, AK48.564897571112080
49Vancouver, WA48.44111150663963112
50Bridgeport, CT48.251221521591351128
51Tallahassee, FL48.0828508686106111
52Tacoma, WA48.07141631169765185
53San Jose, CA48.06104197344722139
54Santa Clarita, CA47.86241904115941156
55Milwaukee, WI47.831128611262874
56Raleigh, NC47.776794591037994
57Salinas, CA47.73511677611254133
58Colorado Springs, CO47.711101373111569136
59Virginia Beach, VA47.676911524314791
60Hayward, CA47.6327198625456172
61Huntington Beach, CA47.63106178709527131
62Aurora, IL47.6111795453391105
63Denver, CO47.508314388437224
64Modesto, CA47.4266156651636268
65Springfield, MO47.42341685155116140
66Savannah, GA47.371408177837631
67Winston-Salem, NC47.3112668129885100
68Torrance, CA47.301181871618820127
69Akron, OH47.0511966371415340
70Chandler, AZ47.012012315161110157
71Fort Wayne, IN46.878640723113973
72Knoxville, TN46.8568397441132101
73Chula Vista, CA46.781431743213435154
74Glendale, CA46.72951884812019199
75Wichita, KS46.4563296056146135
76Aurora, CO46.31581465011073145
77Bakersfield, CA46.238013810519142169
78Rockford, IL46.1696581191308847
79Escondido, CA46.141091728214826175
80Charlotte, NC46.065583144989734
81Atlanta, GA45.8816232137131869
82Columbus, GA45.8712710180142947
83Oxnard, CA45.844417316712938177
84Oceanside, CA45.804917111517528195
85New York, NY45.741931351313561124
86Durham, NC45.7092106541458469
87Grand Rapids, MI45.62158411327108115
88Hampton, VA45.5437125639915417
89Riverside, CA45.52701658919034160
90Corona, CA45.466016414218124176
91Amarillo, TX45.46741312265169126
92Plano, TX45.4076724342170134
93Moreno Valley, CA45.334115712819559106
94Stockton, CA45.30781691181665296
95Pittsburgh, PA45.2919810444911450
96Louisville, KY45.1988912111415764
97Mesa, AZ45.04151228716896164
98Lubbock, TX45.03124159115412843
99Oakland, CA45.00129199985733129
100Augusta, GA44.991497185929822
101Kansas City, MO44.92792675100175103
102Cincinnati, OH44.8719647731813510
103Huntsville, AL44.8418027797095158
104Peoria, AZ44.78611784172131167
105Reno, NV44.738111810310790148
106Shreveport, LA44.65177194016910246
107Columbus, OH44.60113541653014138
108Austin, TX44.584010178119140125
109Oklahoma City, OK44.57133303615814576
110Fullerton, CA44.55194191398918193
111Waco, TX44.481283710015311390
112Fresno, CA44.48173148971844560
113Yonkers, NY44.351991361455157137
114Albuquerque, NM44.35527313812413362
115Paterson, NJ44.351871511941701011
116Little Rock, AR44.301461212315214423
117Macon, GA44.2818211189468226
118Anaheim, CA44.1615018410611329189
119Chattanooga, TN44.0412343777117674
120Toledo, OH43.98161551202714933
121Pasadena, CA43.931651774218748114
122Santa Ana, CA43.888518017910431196
123Henderson, NV43.875913311112689118
124Dayton, OH43.83137621751161173
125Warren, MI43.832111114175162144
126Ontario, CA43.80871609219760146
127Clarksville, TN43.71172318314918544
128St. Petersburg, FL43.63509615136151174
129Thornton, CO43.583014717611874182
130Orlando, FL43.57114386816217229
131Fontana, CA43.531361597118664191
132Pomona, CA43.531391688319447143
133Tucson, AZ43.521151201361657767
134Las Vegas, NV43.506212413412310363
135Rancho Cucamonga, CA43.411341585119666116
136Newark, NJ43.371891491951273012
137Alexandria, VA43.3454144108216792
138Tulsa, OK43.301562095117142108
139Indianapolis, IN43.2691925613915988
140San Bernardino, CA43.231301551241995383
141Chicago, IL43.091511051622511299
142Washington, DC43.02188194152215065
143Corpus Christi, TX42.991312410713615595
144Norfolk, VA42.9894107966316585
145Jackson, MS42.9118451471801435
146Irving, TX42.91538516381158121
147New Orleans, LA42.7218652169749259
148Long Beach, CA42.5715418911717940104
149Garden Grove, CA42.561851829415732179
150St. Louis, MO42.53164351685815625
151Denton, TX42.441769122144125194
152Hollywood, FL42.44648811014318339
153Mobile, AL42.41168211647916035
154Richmond, VA42.37153130586413849
155Tampa, FL42.26174676112214879
156Palmdale, CA42.248917915719851113
156Miramar, FL42.24119893178200102
158Tempe, AZ42.2210011914317675192
159Birmingham, AL42.19192281616813619
160Newport News, VA41.9014511210110115036
161San Antonio, TX41.861324413914716445
162Fayetteville, NC41.801255114619210181
163Lancaster, CA41.67901531782005551
164West Valley City, UT41.66465619828174155
165Cleveland, OH41.6419170155401618
166Pembroke Pines, FL41.61458453173196186
167Port St. Lucie, FL41.6122113153140194142
168Glendale, AZ41.4772116148177111138
169Surprise, AZ41.4532127104193118190
170Jacksonville, FL41.44777916010218984
171Jersey City, NJ41.342001451848058123
172Nashville, TN41.331487712510517771
173Montgomery, AL41.33181181821501522
174Arlington, TX41.204780156138195119
175Kansas City, KS41.1310169154111180150
176Miami, FL41.11170421309419142
177El Paso, TX41.04138361818816655
178Los Angeles, CA40.9918218611418539162
179Fort Lauderdale, FL40.92167489016717341
180Memphis, TN40.651205717216417921
181Killeen, TX40.63163331707619914
182Fort Worth, TX40.625682171141184120
183Hialeah, FL40.551167415010619858
184Phoenix, AZ40.52103121140182107132
185Baltimore, MD40.491551401745910027
186Grand Prairie, TX40.36368718813719061
187North Las Vegas, NV39.81931341868512777
188McAllen, TX39.7212117197189122163
189Laredo, TX39.6817525191171109107
190Midland, TX39.3414434190121137184
191Philadelphia, PA39.111661291584418837
192Dallas, TX38.691526417312819272
193Cape Coral, FL38.6316910813572178197
194Houston, TX38.521728116615118157
195Garland, TX38.45159891875318682
196Mesquite, TX38.32147781998219718
197Brownsville, TX38.041416200183187109
198Carrollton, TX38.001087619391193170
199Pasadena, TX37.439960192174182166
200Detroit, MI37.3715710319616017116
Infographic showing the Best Cities for Single Moms, a ranking based on 36 key metrics, such as cost of living, cost of child care, food insecurity rate, public school quality, and more
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for some metrics in the above infographic.

Highlights and Lowlights

There’s No Rose Without a Thorn

Roseville, California, tops our ranking as the Best City for Single Moms this year. 

Roseville has the lowest share of single moms in poverty, the third highest median annual income for single moms, and plenty of insured women and children. This city also has excellent public schools, low food insecurity, and state policies allowing sick leave for child care. 

There are plenty of baby supply stores, but Roseville lacks child care workers. California cities in general have some of the priciest hourly rates for babysitters and a high annual cost of child care. 

Growing Healthy, Smart Kids

Quality education and health care are big priorities for parents. Small cities and suburbs set the standard for the rest of the country, especially in the Health and Education category. 

Wealthy suburbs Naperville, Illinois (No. 2), Overland Park, Kansas (No. 4),  Irvine, California (No. 7), and Frisco, Texas (No. 13), have the highest-rated school districts in the country, making them great for both single moms and dads

In the Health category, Irvine has the best-quality public hospitals in our ranking, followed by Eugene, Oregon, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Fremont and Elk Grove, California, have the highest rates of insured women, while Syracuse, New York, Santa Clarita, California, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, have the most insured children. 

Balancing Work and Family Time

It’s not easy juggling work and family, especially as a single mother.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota (No. 8), helps ease the load with the most child care workers per 100,000 residents. The city also comes in second place both for its low annual cost of child care and a short average commute. 

Women in Lubbock, Texas, spend the least time on the road. Meanwhile, Eugene, Oregon, Syracuse, New York, and Fort Collins, Colorado, have the shortest average workweeks for women.

States like Oregon, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have paid family leave policies protecting jobs, a high share of wage replacement, and allow the maximum paid family leave of 12 weeks. These states also have laws allowing sick leave for child care. Some cities even have protected time off for school events, including Fort Collins, Washington, and Boston. 

High-Poverty Cities Lacking Policy

Huntsville, Alabama (No. 103), has the highest share of single mothers in poverty, followed by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Each of these cities has a low median annual income for single mothers, unaffordable housing, and no state law allowing sick leave for child care.

At the very bottom of our ranking is Detroit, alongside several Texas cities, including Houston (No. 194), Dallas (No. 192), and some of their suburbs. These cities fared poorly across most metrics, such as median annual income for single moms and housing affordability. They also have high rates of food insecurity and high numbers of single moms and children in poverty. 

Michigan and Texas lack supportive policies like paid family leave, wage replacement, and sick leave for child care. 

Ask The Experts

Being a single mom can be stressful — emotionally, socially, physically, and financially. 

Thankfully, there are programs out there to help. We reached out to some experts to gain insight into the support systems available to single moms. Read their thoughts below on the following questions.

  1. What are the three best ways for single moms to find social support if they don’t have a strong family or friend network?

  2. With record inflation, what government incentives or social programs, if any, are available to single moms struggling to make ends meet?

  3. When it comes to single parenting, there appear to be double standards for moms and dads. What is the easiest disparity to address now and how?

  4. What are some creative ways you’ve recently observed, if any, that employers are supporting their workers who are single moms?
Denise Ann Bodman, PhD
Principal Lecturer, Barrett Honors Faculty
Michelle Kiefer
Director, Lecturer
Jessica Morales-Chicas, Ph.D
Associate Professor
Laila Murphy, Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Psych.
Assistant Professor, Faculty Associate, Doris Bergen Center of Human Development
Denise Ann Bodman, PhD
Principal Lecturer, Barrett Honors Faculty
Arizona State University, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

What are the three best ways for single moms to find social support if they don’t have a strong family or friend network?

Building positive social networks, whether family or non-family, is important for healthy families and healthy children. Notice I said “positive social networks.” Any parent with limited social networks would be wise to remove toxic relationships from their lives and build meaningful and supportive relationships that could benefit both parent and child.

This might mean:

    1. Doing some introspection and developing relationship skills, often with the help of another (professional, mentor, friend);
    2. Engaging others at work, children’s school, organizations (Parents Without Partners, volunteer organizations, religious groups). Some activities can involve parent and child(ren), such as “Feed my Starving Children,” and introduce children to the importance and joys of service.
    3. Being willing to ask for help when needed. The “it takes a village” concept often is considered trite, but the concept is true. Friends, co-workers, neighbors, “church family”, and community groups can be tremendously helpful to single mothers, providing material, emotional, physical, and social support. As our interactions increase, our support systems enlarge, and “many hands make light work.”

With record inflation, what government incentives or social programs, if any, are available to single moms struggling to make ends meet?

Every community is different and provides different services. In general, the federal government can provide temporary assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to help with childcare, food, and housing.

Low-income mothers might find help with housing choice vouchers, energy assistance programs (to help pay for utilities), Women-Infant-Child (WIC) programs, supplemental nutrition assistance programs (SNAP), and school lunch programs.

Grants and scholarships are available for women who want to begin or continue their education. Health needs can be assisted through Medicaid, and Head Start can help with preschool. Mothers may need to search out the local programs in their community that can assist them and their children.

When it comes to single parenting, there appear to be double standards for moms and dads. What is the easiest disparity to address now and how?

When it comes to double standards, there is no easy way to address them because they are often invisible to those who hold them. How can we change things we don’t see?

In the U.S., it is expected that single mothers take care of children and figure out a way to meet special family demands without interfering with work. Conversely, single fathers may be praised for taking care of their children and may find that bosses and coworkers are more forgiving when the father takes off work to take a child to the dentist or care for a sick child at home.

Of course, we don’t recognize that we are responding to these parents differently. Coworkers may bake that father a pie, but expect the single mother to make it.

Research has found that single mothers are not as healthy physically or mentally and tend to be poorer than married mothers.

Many women do not even consider higher-paying jobs typically held by men because of personal stereotypes about what type of work women “should” do. If they do decide to apply for such a job, the hiring authority may not hire them for the same reasons.

Another consideration –– less than half of single parents receive the child support they are entitled to and almost one-third receive nothing at all. Perhaps a government policy is needed that requires all child support to go through a governmental authority and be directed to the parent.

If payment is not made, the government provides the money to the custodial parent and then seeks reimbursement from the non-custodial parent.

What are some creative ways you’ve recently observed, if any, that employers are supporting their workers who are single moms?

A few places may offer onsite daycare or provide financial or caregiving assistance for sick children. Some places tout their lactation rooms. Still, others provide flexible work schedules, job sharing, or spurred by the pandemic, work-from-home opportunities (although many single mothers find that it’s harder to work from home with children than at an office). A few organizations offer paid family leave. Maybe not so creative, but it’s a start.

One final note. “Single moms” is not a monolithic category. Some women have chosen single parenthood right from the beginning; some have not. Some are single as a result of divorce and others as a result of death (with differing child outcomes).

Some women are teens and others are in their 40s or older. Some women are well-educated professionals and others are high school dropouts. Some single moms revel in their singleness and others are depressed. Some vote Republican and some vote Democratic. In the end, we need to ensure that all our children are well-cared for, embraced, and valued.

Michelle Kiefer
Director, Lecturer
Baylor University, The Piper Center for Family Studies and Child Development

What are the three best ways for single moms to find social support if they don’t have a strong family or friend network?

  1. Some areas, such as Las Vegas and Northern California, have branches of Single Mom Strong, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting single mothers. There are also grass-roots single mom groups; most have a Facebook page, so searching for those on social media can be a good start. Look for one that has in-person meet-ups. For the most successful connection, we need those face-to-face interactions.
  2. Churches are another great choice; starting with the weekly service at a church that provides care for children can offer some respite for Mom and begin friendships for children and parents. MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) is a Christian organization offering fun programs for the littles while the Moms spend educational time together.
  3. Get out and have fun with your kiddos. You will meet others who are similar to you and can become your support system. Getting a zoo pass can be fairly inexpensive and you will meet many other moms also looking for safe places for their children to run around.

This only works if you aren’t buried in your phone; be willing to smile and introduce yourself to others. As your children age, you can become friends with their friends’ parents and share in the driving, feeding, etc.

With record inflation, what government incentives or social programs, if any, are available to single moms struggling to make ends meet?

A “side hustle” is the way to go. Find something you enjoy and figure out how to earn extra money doing it. For example, if you enjoy making earrings, start selling them on Etsy. If you don’t work traditional hours in your normal job, try substituting at the local elementary schools once a week. Some will pay a couple of hundred dollars per day.

Are you good at yard work? You and your kiddos could mow lawns together on Saturday mornings. Photography, car detailing, baking, and organizing are other skills you can make money with. As a single parent myself, I have found financial relief by relocating to a less expensive area and keeping a “side hustle” in addition to my regular job.

When it comes to single parenting, there appear to be double standards for moms and dads. What is the easiest disparity to address now and how?

As a single mom, it can feel like single dads are glorified for doing what we are expected to do. Married moms often feel this way, too. Don’t say dad is “babysitting” his own children. Commiserating with other parents can feel good, but be careful not to let the negativity overtake you. Be proud of who you are and what you do each day.

As a society, the easiest major fix that would support moms and dads (and children) everywhere would be free lunch at school for every child, regardless of income or family size. Imagine how much better everyone’s day would be with a healthy, robust meal in the middle of it. At our lab school, we feed the teachers with the children to model mealtime behavior, encourage conversation, and provide the sustenance they need to keep working.

What are some creative ways you’ve recently observed, if any, that employers are supporting their workers who are single moms?

The University of Arkansas recently broke ground on a new campus child development center to support their working parents –– employees as well as students. Employers like SMUD and UC Davis Health are partnering with higher education programs and child care organizations to provide child care for their employees.

Partnerships are key to the affordability and success of these programs. Other companies, like Meta, offer emergency child care support to their employees. Companies such as Deloitte, GM, and Intel support volunteer work during work time, which means single moms can volunteer at their children’s school or support a cause they love while their children are in school.

Companies looking at diversifying their workforce can also include single moms as a group. We may not visually look alike but we definitely have some common needs as well as some excellent attributes (like persistence, compassion, and dedication) as assets to our employers.

Jessica Morales-Chicas, Ph.D
Associate Professor
California State University Los Angeles, Department of Child & Family Studies

What are the three best ways for single moms to find social support if they don’t have a strong family or friend network?

Having a strong network of support is important to promote well-being at any age. For single moms who may not have a strong family or friend network, I recommend finding unique ways to build a supportive community of social support.

  1. Volunteering at your child’s school or a child’s sports program is a great way to meet new families who are also experiencing the journey of parenting. This is a great space to connect with similar people around a common mission, which is children. These connections can also facilitate friendships or overall support, such as babysitting in times of need.
  2. In our current digital world, online support platforms and groups have risen in numbers and efficacy. Platforms like Peanut or Facebook have community forums specifically tailored for single moms to uplift and support each other. Many online platforms like these are free, accessible, are effective.
  3. In-person support groups focused on parenting or single mothers can also offer a natural support system that can be instrumental in reducing isolation for single mothers.

With record inflation, what government incentives or social programs, if any, are available to single moms struggling to make ends meet?

With record inflation, it is imperative that single mothers are provided with awareness and access to existing government and social programs. A good starting place is dialing 211 (available in most states), which serves to connect families with existing public assistance programs and social programs.

For example, SNAP food assistance is a nutrition initiative that can help single mothers who need financial support to get proper nutrition for their families. Additionally, for public housing assistance, the HUD Public Housing Assistance Program can provide low-cost housing for single parents in need.

Finally, for single mothers who are pregnant or who have young children, Head Start Programs can be imperative in promoting family well-being and childcare services. Ultimately, it’s important to know that you are not alone and that there are various existing programs to help single mothers make ends meet.

When it comes to single parenting, there appear to be double standards for moms and dads. What is the easiest disparity to address now and how?

One double standard that often comes up for single moms compared to single dads is the high pressures and expectations that single moms can do it all. That is, mothers are given unrealistic societal pressures that mothering comes naturally and that it can be done alone. Alternatively, single dads are often celebrated for taking a primary parenting role as if it does not come naturally.

Unfortunately, these antiquated perceptions can lead to burnout, especially when single mothers get judged more harshly if expectations are not met. While being a single parent can be difficult regardless of gender, having these societal pressures without structural and social support presents a bigger challenge.

An easy way to address this is to reflect on our own perceptions of stereotypes we hold for mothers versus fathers and single mothers compared to single fathers. By addressing these stereotypes and implicit biases, people in positions of power in government and workspaces can also challenge themselves to create support mechanisms for single parents.

What are some creative ways you’ve recently observed, if any, that employers are supporting their workers who are single moms?

A big incentive for single mothers in the workplace is to offer on-site childcare or childcare subsidies. Finding reliable care for young children is already difficult enough. By providing childcare at the workplace, we not only alleviate time constraints in morning drop-offs for single mothers but relieve the challenges of finding quality and affordable programs.

For single mothers, especially with young children, it is important to also provide flexible working hours and potentially bonus sick time that covers children separately. Most workplaces do not consider how often and typical it is for young children to get sick when starting childcare.

Without workplace flexibility, sufficient sick time, or support, a single mother is left with few options when their child gets sick. Workplaces need to provide opportunities for flexibility, especially for single mothers who are the sole caregivers for their children.

With the recent pandemic, the working and family dynamic was intertwined for many in the household, which challenged the workplace landscape. Subsequently, this shift taught us that work flexibility is essential for the well-being of workers and for workplace success.

Laila Murphy, Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Psych.
Assistant Professor, Faculty Associate, Doris Bergen Center of Human Development
Miami University of Ohio, Department of Education and Society

What are the three best ways for single moms to find social support if they don’t have a strong family or friend network?

There are an estimated 11 million single-parent families with children under the age of 18, with nearly 80 percent headed by single mothers (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). Studies have suggested that perceived social support (Son & Bauer, 2010), access to quality school and childcare (Siefert et al., 2007), and education (Murphy, 2016) serve as protective factors for single-parent families.

Social support can come in many forms: family, friends, co-workers, employers, community, religious or non-religious organizations, school, etc. Single mothers are often isolated, mostly due to a lack of time to connect with others while trying to balance between work and/or school and their children. However, this can cause mental and physical stress (Stack & Meredith, 2018).

There are many online support groups for single parents such as Parents Without Partners or Parents Helping Parents. Having a social network can help single parents feel a sense of belonging (Black & Lobo, 2008). Most of the time, single parents are not able to attend social events due to a lack of childcare. This is also why access to quality school and childcare remain significant protective factors for single parents.

For example, many educational opportunities for single mothers become limited because of the lack of childcare resources (Trepal, Stinchfield, & Haivasoso, 2013). The lack of childcare and schooling also forces parents to reduce working hours and even abandon the labor market (Shafer, Scheibling, & Milkie, 2020). The ability to have a safe place for their children allows parents to seek education, employment, and networking.

Most single mothers work minimum wage jobs which provide few benefits and tend to be unstable. The longer a single mother is in poverty and remains on government financial support, the more her children’s academic performance is affected (Wagstaff & McLuckey, 2017). Education can provide single parents better opportunities for better jobs.

With record inflation, what government incentives or social programs, if any, are available to single moms struggling to make ends meet?

Balancing work and family is tough even for a two-parent household, but it’s much tougher when there is no one to share the responsibilities. Particularly during the pandemic, single mothers are found to be more vulnerable than the rest of the population (Chauhan, 2020).

They are more likely to experience a dramatic increase in family responsibilities, leaving them insufficient time for employment and more likely to face job loss and lay-offs (King et al., 2020).

However, there are several government sources to help. These include the Pell Grant to help single mothers to continue their education (submission deadline is June 30 each year); Women, Infant, and Children (WIC); Ohio Work First; SNAP emergency allotments (EA); Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP); and Childcare Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS), among others. More information on assistance can be found here.

When it comes to single parenting, there appear to be double standards for moms and dads. What is the easiest disparity to address now and how?

When it comes to single parenting, American society has a history in treating mothers and fathers differently. Childrearing is largely women’s domain in almost every culture. The assumption that mothers should be the best single primary caretaker (Hays, 1998) has many impacts.

The tender-years doctrine causes fathers to lose custody. The expectation that single mothers should be naturally capable caretakers leads society to judge mothers more harshly while fathers are given more sympathy (for example, when a child forgets to bring lunch or is late being picked up).

People rarely say, “Good for you,” to single mothers, but this is often said to single fathers who are considered “courageous” for taking the primary parent role (Collins, 2020).

What are some creative ways you’ve recently observed, if any, that employers are supporting their workers who are single moms?

The challenge of parenthood exposes one to greater stresses, especially as a single parent, which can contribute to the onset of depression and anxiety (Flouri et al., 2018; Kong et al., 2017). Realizing this, many employers create on-site childcare that takes off much stress from the parents.

Many employers, schools, and other organizations now gear their social activities toward family-friendly events (usually involving food and activities for the kids). This will be attractive for single parents as they will have a chance to create a social network and not worry about their children.

For example, I created a program in 2021 called “Promoting Resilient Single-Parent Families” for Miami’s single-parent students. The parents meet once a month while their children play together. This program creates a sense of belonging and provides emotional support for parents who are going through similar challenges. This program is not only good for student retention, but their children also receive the benefit of having mentors outside the home.


For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into six categories: Affordability, Child Care, Health and Education, Home and Outdoors, Work-Life Balance, and Community Support.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 200). (Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 200 due to ties among cities.)

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Cost of Living Index473205Min. Value
Median Annual Income for Single Moms4$16,681$85,701Max. Value
Housing Affordability for Single Moms212.7%56.1%Max. Value
Copays as a Share of Household Income10%20%Min. Value
Share of Single Moms in Poverty32.6%57.7%Min. Value
Share of Children Under 18 in Poverty21%49.1%Min. Value
Child Care
Baby Supply Stores per 100,000 Residents107Max. Value
Child Care Workers per 100,000 Residents43122Max. Value
Hourly Cost of Babysitter4$11.50$20.50Min. Value
Annual Cost of Child Care5$5,864$24,081Min. Value
Health and Education
Hospitals per 100,000 Residents206Max. Value
Quality of Public Hospitals34887Max. Value
Family Practitioners per 100,000 Residents24133Max. Value
Uninsured Rate for Women200Min. Value
Uninsured Rate for Children20%25.5%Min. Value
Food Insecurity Rate25%18%Min. Value
Quality of Public Schools35.510.5Max. Value
Home and Outdoors
Median Air Quality Index125101Min. Value
Walk Score11397Max. Value
Pedestrian Fatalities per 100,000 Residents1010Min. Value
Average Yard Square Footage177619,855Max. Value
Percentage of Residents Within 10-Minute Walk of a Park210%100%Max. Value
Percentage of Land Used for Parks and Recreation20%80%Max. Value
Crime Index2085Max. Value
Water Quality Violations Present (1=Yes, 0=No)101Min. Value
Share of Homes with Severe Housing Problems29.6%32.4%Min. Value
Work-Life Balance
Average Length of Work Week (in Hours) for Women333.639.1Min. Value
Average Commute Time (in Minutes) for Women214.739.5Min. Value
Share of Women With College Degree214.7%70.4%Max. Value
Maximum Length of Paid Family Leave Allowed (in Weeks)2012Max. Value
Share of Wage Replacement20%100%Max. Value
Availability of Job Protection in Paid Family Leave Policy (1=Yes, 0=No)201Max. Value
Availability of State Law Allowing Sick Leave for Child Care (1=Yes, 0=No)201Max. Value
Availability of Protected Time Off for School Events (1=Yes, 0=No)201Max. Value
Community Support
Single Moms per 100,000 Residents37736,433Max. Value
Mom Support Groups per 100,000 Single Moms20347Max. Value

Sources: Areavibes, Care.com, Child Care Aware of America, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Other LawnStarter Studies, Livability, National Center for Children in Poverty, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Meetup, Niche, Neighborhood Scout, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Trust for Public Land, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Census Bureau, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Walk Score, Workplace Fairness, and Yelp

Why This Study Matters

Raising a child isn’t easy, especially now that it costs more than $300,000 to do so. 

Four in 10 children reside in a single-parent home, and single moms make up nearly 80% of total U.S. single-parent households. Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this rate is likely to increase, especially in the South.

Additionally, with inflation, high child care costs, and the gender wage gap, a disproportionately higher share of these single mothers — especially single mothers who are women of color — live in poverty compared with married couples. 

Undertaking these challenges alone can be a difficult and stressful endeavor. 

The holiday season can bring another set of obstacles for a struggling family. Thankfully, there are organizations devoted to helping spread holiday cheer to those in need. Reach out for assistance, or become a holiday helper through some of these organizations:

Communities can support single moms by implementing supportive community programs and grant initiatives. Individuals can also help unburden single moms by offering to babysit or helping with chores like picking up groceries or mowing the lawn.

Why is LawnStarter ranking the Best Cities for Single Moms? We’re all about lawn care, and a big backyard where kids can play safely can be beneficial for time-pressed and stressed single moms. 

Schedule a fall cleanup with a LawnStarter pro for a single mom in your life so she has one less thing to worry about this holiday season. 

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate of the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.