Pennsylvania, PA

With few resources and little income, single mothers have always been exceptionally vulnerable to poverty. And for this reason, support programs are made available. From food, child care to medical assistance, Pennsylvania hopes to ease their financial burden during times of hardship.

Pennsylvania Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) #

TANF provides very low-income Pennsylvanians with temporary financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.

As a condition of eligibility, those receiving cash benefits are required to complete and sign an agreement to engage in work activities that will lead to employment.

How do I apply for cash assistance in PA?

Now you can apply for TANF from the comfort of your home using COMPASS — an online application for Pennsylvanians to apply for benefits including SNAP.

Pennsylvania Diversion and Moving to Independence #

Diversion is a way for families to choose short-term help rather than long-term ongoing cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

It provides a one-time lump sum payment once in a 12-month period dependent upon your need, with the maximum payment set at three times the Family Size Allowance (FSA).

How much do you get for the diversion program in PA?

Typically, diversion payments amount to a few months' worth of benefits, ranging from approximately $600 to $1500, depending on factors such as your household size and the county of residence.

You may apply for Diversion by completing an online COMPASS application for cash benefits. Upon successful submission, a face-to-face interview will be arranged to determine your eligibility.

Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) #

SNAP benefits are used to buy food and help low income families in Pennsylvania obtain more nutritious diets. The monthly benefits range from a minimum of $192 to a maximum of $374 for a family of three.

If you are eligible, you will receive a Pennsylvania EBT ACCESS Card which is used to make food purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets.

How do I apply for SNAP benefits in PA?

If you have questions about SNAP, you may call the Department of Public Welfare Helpline at 1-800-692-7462 or visit your local county assistance office.

Summer Food Service Program #

Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded child nutrition program designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas.

There are several ways to locate a participating summer meal site:

  1. Call the "211" phone number for the National call center.
  2. Text "FOOD" to "877877" to find out the nearest SFSP site near your location.
  3. Download the Range app to locate places and times where free meals are served.

For additional information, call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE.

Pennsylvania Special Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) #

WIC is a federally funded program that provides healthy supplemental foods and nutrition services for eligible pregnant women, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children under age five who meet the income guidelines.

What is the income limit for WIC in Pennsylvania?

To be eligible, you must be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania, have a medical or nutritional risk, and have a gross household income that does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty guidelines.

How do I apply for WIC in Pennsylvania?

WIC Agencies provide services in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. You may call 1-800-WIC-WINS or 1-800-942-9467 to be connected to a WIC office in your county.

Pennsylvania Medical Assistance #

Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid, offers health care coverage for Pennsylvania residents who meet the program’s eligibility requirements for Medicaid.

Unlike regular health insurance, you don’t have to pay for it but there may be a small co-payment for certain services, usually between $1 – $3.

Pennsylvania opted to implement the Medicaid expansion in 2014. As a result, Medicaid now covers nearly all uninsured Pennsylvanians age 19-64 with income up to 138% of FPL.

How do I apply for Medicaid in Pennsylvania?

You can apply for or renew your Medical Assistance online by using COMPASS or apply by telephone by calling the Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355.

Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program #

Pennsylvania CHIP provides health coverage to uninsured children up to age 19 whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage.

In Pennsylvania, children with family income up to 319% of poverty or about $73,470 for a family of three are eligible for CHIP.

For most families, it’s free. Families with incomes above the free CHIP limits will pay low monthly premiums and co-pays for some services.

American Indian and Alaska Native children are excluded from cost-sharing.

How do I apply for CHIP in PA?

Call the CHIP helpline at 1-800-986-KIDS (5437) and select prompt No. 2, then select prompt No. 1 for application assistance or you can apply online by using COMPASS.

Pennsylvania SelectPlan for Women #

SelectPlan for Women is a Pennsylvania program that offers free and confidential women’s health care for women age 18-44, including free birth control. Coverage is unlimited and entirely free.

To qualify, you must be a Pennsylvania resident with income not exceeding 214% of the poverty level and have no private insurance or Medicaid.

You can apply online with COMPASS, or apply in person at any County Assistance Office or COMPASS Community Partner, including family planning clinics near you.

Pennsylvania Child Care Works #

Subsidized child care in Pennsylvania is provided through the Child Care Works program that helps low income families afford quality child care.

Families with incomes up to 198% of federal poverty level or about $45,600 for a family of three, may qualify for child care subsidy.

As a condition of eligibility, participants are required to work at least 20 hours a week or work at least 10 hours a week and participate in an approved training program at least 10 hours a week.

How do I apply for child care assistance in Pennsylvania?

For more information, call the Child Care Works helpline at 1-877-4-PA-KIDS. You can also find help and information at your local Child Care Information Services office.

Pennsylvania Head Start #

Head Start promotes school readiness for children in low-income families between the ages of 3 and 5. It does this by providing comprehensive educational, health, nutritional, and social services that prepare them for school and life.

Families who are 100% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply. The pre-school program may be offered as center-based or home-based services — and is free.

How do I apply for Head Start in PA?

You may apply for Head Start or Early Head Start services through your local Head Start grantee. Use the Head Start Provider Locator to find the program in your community.

Pennsylvania Housing Choice Voucher Program #

Pennsylvania’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, provides housing vouchers to low income families and individuals to find a housing unit of their choice in the public housing market.

Families who are income eligible often need to pay up to 30% of their rent and utilities while the rest will be covered by the Section 8 subsidy.

The HCV wait list is currently closed in Pennsylvania. Applicants may check their status online or by calling 215-684-4300.

Pennsylvania Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) #

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income families pay their heating bills. This one-time payment is sent directly to your utility company or fuel provider, and it will be credited on your bill.

In addition to the LIHEAP cash program, households experiencing a heating crisis may be eligible for additional benefits through the LIHEAP crisis program — up to a maximum of $800.

How do I apply for LIHEAP in Pennsylvania?

If you need help paying your heating bills, or have a heating emergency, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095. Crisis assistance is available 24 hours a day.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Insurance #

Unemployment Insurance is a state-operated insurance program designed to partially replace lost wages when you are out of work through no fault of your own.

If you meet the eligibility requirements of the law, you’re entitled to supplemental income while you are looking for a new job, up to a maximum of 26 full weeks in a one-year period.

The current maximum unemployment benefit rate in Pennsylvania is $861 a week through September 6, 2021. After that, the maximum weekly benefit is capped at $594 a week.

If you’re self-employed and not eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), you may be eligible for an additional $100 per week.

How do I file for unemployment in PA online?

You can file your initial claim electronically or if you wish to file your claim over the phone, please call the statewide toll-free number at 1-888-313-7284.

Pennsylvania State Grant Program #

The Pennsylvania State Grant Program is a financial assistance program that provides funding to eligible Pennsylvanians who demonstrate high financial need to go to college.

Award amounts vary, and are determined by financial need, cost of tuition, and availability of funds. For applicants attending approved Pennsylvania institutions, the maximum annual award is $5,750.

To be considered for a Pennsylvania State Grant, you must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) no later than May 1 each year, and complete the Pennsylvania State Grant Form.

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