The welfare office is a place that has had a stigma attached to it since its inception. Many people are even ashamed to have to go to the social services office to apply for benefits. Some people do not even know what kind of help the welfare office has available. If you are in a tight financial situation, looking into the services offered by your local welfare office might be a good idea.
One of the services that most people apply for at the welfare office is food stamps. Though now known as SNAP and with a debit card now instead of those paper vouchers, an estimated 47 million Americans are currently receiving food assistance. Food stamps are usually available for six to twelve month periods and the debit cards recharge monthly on a specified date. Most foods are covered, with the exception of those considered ready to eat or hot meals. Food stamps do not cover any non-food items.
Technically, TANF (sometimes called “taniff”) stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This program supports families with children with cash payments for specific purposes, usually to help you house and care for your children. This program can also help train you for better employment opportunities and can assist with childcare or child support issues. TANF is available to non-parent child custodians, as well, such as grandparents and foster parents.
Medicaid is the state run, federally funded medical insurance program offered to low income families and individuals. Though Medicare is free, it usually does have copays for doctor’s visits and prescriptions. Most illnesses and disabilities are covered by Medicaid and almost all drugs are as well.
WIC, which stands for Women Infants and Children, is a program that is geared to providing specific nutrition for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children. Foods like peanut butter and cereal are approved items and WIC also covers infant formula. Though WIC will not cover all of the dietary needs of your family, it is a big help and virtually all pregnant women, nursing mothers and kids are eligible.
If you are in need of any of these services or have other needs, such as transportation or fuel assistance, contact your local social services department to see what kinds of help are available. You can also look online for your state’s social services department for a description of services as well as an online application.