The State of Virginia receives federal funding for a variety of benefit programs that support low-income Virginians. These provide food, health care, home heating and in some cases cash assistance. Here we have provided a brief description of what each program does and where to apply for help.
Family Access to Medical Insurance Security
FAMIS provides health insurance coverage to the state’s minor children and to pregnant women. There are no enrollment costs or monthly premiums under the program. Families only pay small co-payments which are usually between $2 and $5. Applying for FAMIS could not be easier. Simply call 1-866-873-2647 or apply at your local DSS office.
Early childhood education that focuses on school readiness is offered to low-income families with children age 5 and under and also to pregnant women through Head Start. Parents are highly involved in these Head Start programs that prepare children for the start of elementary school. Use the Head Start locator to find a program in your area.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance
The Virginia Energy Assistance Program helps low-income households with four types of home energy assistance. Fuel and cooling assistance is offered to support heating and cooling costs. Crisis assistance is available for emergency situations. Weatherization assistance helps with energy efficiency. Apply for help at your local DSS office for any of these programs.
This federal and state partnership provides health care coverage for some of the neediest Virginians who would otherwise not be able to afford medical care for themselves and their children. Medicaid covers pregnant women, minor children, children in foster care up to age 21, blind, disabled and seniors 65 or older. You may apply online or by visiting your local DSS office.
School Breakfast and Lunch
The Virginia Department of Education provides free and reduced breakfast and lunch to low-income school children inside the state’s public schools. Apply at your child’s school.
School settings that do not provide prepared meals may still offer milk to children through this program. Usually the Special Milk Program serves half-day kindergartens, child cares and camps. Apply at your child’s school.
Summer Meals for Kids
This program provides meals to Virginia’s school children normally served by school meal programs during the summer months when school is out. Meals are served at feeding sites such as parks, playgrounds, day camps, churches and community centers and are often paired with summer education and recreation programs. To find a location in your area inquire about Summer Meals for Kids at your child’s school during the school year.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Formerly known as food stamps, the SNAP program provides low-income Virginians with a supplemental food supply. Eligible families receive electronic benefits transfer or EBT cards that can be used to buy nutritious foods at participating stores. Apply online for SNAP or call the DSS hotline at 1-800-552-3431.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
The TANF program provides Virginian families with temporary assistance and job training. Cash payments are issued to eligible families monthly to pay for basic needs. Childcare and transportation may also be provided while parents are enrolled in job readiness training. To apply you must visit your local DSS office.
If you have lost your job through no fault of your own in Virginia, you may be eligible to receive temporary unemployment benefits while you seek new work. To qualify for help you must have worked at some point in the past 12 to 18 months. You must be seeking employment and available to start work while collecting unemployment benefits. Claims are filed online. Call 1-866-835-6058 with any questions.
Virginia’s Weatherization Assistance program pays for upgrades that reduce energy costs and increase safety in low-income households. Weatherization is provided by local service providers. To apply for assistance contact the weatherization provider that offers services in your county.
Women, Infants and Children
WIC supports pregnant women and those with children up to the age of 5 with supplemental foods and additional services. To apply for help in Virginia, visit your local WIC clinic or call the Virginia Department of Health toll-free at 1-888-942-3663.
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