Government Financial Assistance for Families


Many families have trouble making ends meet these days. Whether one or both parents are temporarily unemployed, or are employed but don’t earn much money, or simply have unexpected expenses, families sometimes struggle to pay all their bills. Both federal and state governments offer financial assistance to families in need.


  • In some states, TANF, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, goes by other names. In all states, though, this program provides financial support to families in need. Families can use the money to pay for groceries, utilities, rent, transportation, medical care, or to meet other financial needs. Apply for TANF at the welfare office in the county in which you live. The name of the agency that administers welfare programs varies from state to state; in Ohio it is called the Department of Job and Family Services, and in South Carolina it is called the Department of Social Services.

Food Stamps

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, helps needy families buy healthful food. Families can use food stamps to buy a variety of food at the grocery stores of their choice. Families can also use food stamps to purchase seeds or plants if they prefer to grow their own food. Many families with working parents qualify for food stamps if the parents work at low-paying jobs. Apply for food stamps at the welfare office in the county in which you live.


  • Medicaid helps some families pay for medical care. Eligibility criteria vary from state to state; in some states, only children, elderly people and disabled people qualify. In others, parents of children that qualify can also receive Medicaid themselves. All recipients must meet income guidelines. Some families qualify for Medicaid, even though one or both parents work, if they don’t earn much money and don’t have health insurance through their jobs. Apply for Medicaid at the welfare office in the county in which you live.

National School Lunch Program

  • The National School Lunch Program provides free and reduced-price lunches to children from families with low incomes. Children from families that receive food stamps usually qualify, but others may qualify as well. Lunches must meet nutritional standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Apply for the National School Lunch Program at your child’s school. Many schools also offer free breakfasts to children from families with low incomes, so ask about this when you apply for free or reduced-price lunches.

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