Beyond Child Support - Public Assistance

Whether or not you currently receive child support payments from your child's other parent, you may need additional assistance with the economic and healthcare aspects of raising a child. The federal government and all state governments offer some form of public assistance to low-income and transitional families. At the state level, public assistance is usually provided by a state department or agency typically called "human services," "social services," or "health and welfare." At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Family Assistance oversees the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The following is a brief overview of public assistance options for families.

What Kind of Public Assistance is Available?

Many public assistance resources are available to the whole family -- children and adults -- including economic assistance, healthcare, and abuse prevention. Other assistance services are only for children -- such as child care and foster services. Depending on the state where you live, family and child-related public assistance services may include:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
  • Cash Assistance
  • Food Stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Quality Health Care and Medical Assistance
  • Shelter/Homeless Assistance Programs
  • Public Housing
  • Child Care Services
  • Child Support Enforcement and Parent Locator Services
  • Abuse and Neglect Prevention
  • Behavioral Health Services
  • Adoption and Foster Care Services
  • Prescription Medication Discounts
  • Employment and Training
  • Legal Services

Are You and/or Your Child Eligible to Receive Public Assistance?

Most states require that persons seeking certain forms of public assistance meet specific eligibility criteria, such as a combined household income below a certain threshold, or that the recipient have minor children in his or her care. Many state public assistance programs and agencies have eligibility information and application procedures online.

Go here to see a state-by-state listing of Web links to Public Assistance Information and Resources.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified child support attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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