The Department of Children and Families, ACCESS Florida Program has several programs that can help lower income and struggling Florida families make it through a difficult period. They include Food Assistance, Temporary Cash Assistance, Medicaid and Refugee Assistance. Learn more about these services, and more, below.
Florida Food Assistance Program – Low income individuals can get assistance with buying healthy food. The amount of public and cash assistance provided to pay for your groceries and food will depend on your total household income as well as the number of people in your family. Your income and basic living expenses will be factored into the amount of free groceries and food that is offered.
A number of different types of foods can be purchased using assistance and vouchers from the state of Florida. Families can buy cereals, breads, dairy, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and poultry among other items.
Additional food can be provided by the SUNCAP program. This secondary resource is offered for residents who also receive public assistance from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This service may be offered to people on SSI without any additional application, paperwork, or interview. Therefore eligibility can be immediate and streamlined.
Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) in Florida can offer grants and cash assistance to the needy and low income. The resources are focused on families with children under the age of 19 that also meet the income guidelines and asset requirements that have been put into place by the state. The cash program is really focused on helping lower income families become self-supporting and pay for their bills and expenses while allowing children to remain in their own homes. In addition to offering cash to families with children, pregnant women in Florida may also qualify for the TCA program which is mentioned below.
TCA - Relative Caregiver Program – If you are taking care of a child but are not their parent, then this program provides a monthly cash disbursement to relatives who meet eligibility rules. For example grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives who have custody of a child under age 18 who has been court ordered as a dependent may qualify for public assistance. The monthly cash assistance amount provided to caregivers is more than what is provided from the Temporary Cash Assistance for one child, but the amount paid out is less than the amount paid for a child in the foster care program.
Senior citizens and the disabled may qualify for cash assistance from the Optional State Supplementation. This Florida resource can offer a monthly cash payments to disabled or indigent elderly individuals who live in special non-institutional, residential living facilities, including adult family care homes, assisted living facilities, or mental health residential treatment hospitals and facilities. The supplemental program provides a monthly check that will be paid towards supplementing the individual’s income.
Free or low cost health care coverage can be provided by Florida Medicaid. The federal government program provides Medical coverage to low income families and individuals and can help people save significantly on their bills. The state of Florida as well as the federal government share the costs of paying for the Medicaid program. Services are administered by the Agency for Health Care Administration. Both the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) as well as the Social Security Administration run the program for the needy and low income.
A wide variety of public medical care can be provided for low income families with children, Pregnant women, Children only, Aged and/or disabled individuals as well as Non-citizens with medical emergencies.
Medicaid for Low Income Families With Children may be an option for children up to age 18 as well as their parents and/or caretaker. Health care can be provided in these cases to low income individuals and families.
Emergency Medical Assistance (EMA) For Non-Citizens is offered for a serious medical condition such as emergency labor and delivery of a child. The need must be verified by a doctor or medical professional, and the program is only offered for those who are also Medicaid eligible except for their citizenship status.
Health care and Medicaid for Aged or Disabled can be offered for low income individuals who are disabled or who are aged (65 or older).
Emergency Financial Assistance Program (EFAHP) – This program was created by Florida to try to help prevent homelessness. Money and grants can be distributed to pay a wide range of housing expenses that could cause homelessness. For example, money may be offered for rent, mortgage payments, or energy bills. The bottom line is that funding is offered for both homeowners and renters.
Refugee Services help entrants, immigrants, and refugees in Florida access information and financial assistance they need, and also become self-sufficient. Refugee Services can assist newly-arrived eligible clients in acquiring job skills, get pubic aid, obtaining employment, learning English, career counseling, and overcoming legal or medical difficulties. The state of Florida works with over 60 community provider contracts and non-profits, and the state provide grants, cash and medical bill assistance for at most eight months.
Women, Infant, Child (WIC) is another federal government funded program for lower income Women, Infants, and Children. The Florida WIC program provides the following resources at no cost to qualified individuals and families. Access healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education and counseling, as well as referrals for health care and medical services from the Department of Children and Families.
Telephone bills and expenses – Receive a low cost cell phone or land line in Florida from the Link-Up and Lifeline Assistance Program. This national program is also offered in Florida, and was designed to ensure that all residents of Florida, regardless of their income, have access to telephone service and some type of phone connections in their homes. Financial assistance and savings on phones are provided by the state government Children and Families.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is the main government affiliated organization that helps the over one million veterans in the state of Florida. Their immediate family members can also receive assistance. A number of public assistance programs, job placement, tax assistance, grants, and educational opportunities are provided to qualified veterans and military member. Click Florida veteran programs.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity offers programs to help people find a job, and employers can also take advantage of resources to find qualified candidates. Among other services they run a One-Stop Career Center that can help you with your job search. Find out if you qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance or the Workforce Investment Act.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides grants and public money to local governments as well as non-profit agencies in Florida so that they can assist low-income families with paying for home cooling bills and any heat expenses. The government funded utility bill program provides cash grants directly to local offices in your town and county. All applications and funding is run at the local level. Read more on energy assistance programs.
Financial assistance for child care is provided by the state from resources such as the Florida School Readiness Program. The state will subsidize your costs so that the parents can either attend attend job training, work at their current job, or enroll into an education service or class. In addition it will put the child in place to get off to a strong start on their overall learning. Read more on child care assistance in Florida.
Other services offered in Florida include:
Call the Florida Department of Children and Families at 1-866-762-2237. Or click here for a listing of offices by county and town.