Residents that meet very low income guidelines can turn to the city of Norfolk Department of Social Services. They may be able to qualify for one of a number of government benefits or Family Services that are administered by the department. There is also support for the disabled, unemployed, and elderly in the city.
Most of these assistance programs will require the applicant to participate in job training services or other workshops, such s VIEW. However, the funds available from social services can help a family meet their basic needs when they are faced with a short term hardship. In general, applications for any Virginia benefits are done online, and DHS may be able to help with the process.
Cash grants from the federal government and state of Virginia may be available under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF. Income-eligible families receive short term financial assistance in the form of monthly cash payments for their basic needs, such as rent, food, or medical costs. In most cases, families must also participate in the state’s VIEW employment program, as TANF is designed to provide only short-term relief.
Another option is the Norfolk Department of Human Services TANF’s diversionary assistance service. This component provides one-time payments to working families who face a sudden, temporary loss of income, such as job loss or severe medical condition/disability. Any families who make use of diversionary assistance lose eligibility for certain ongoing benefits in the future.
The program’s transitional assistance service offers an additional year of support to the needy. This can include health care, help in paying for childcare, transportation and other aid to families once TANF benefits expire.
In order to apply, a number of conditions need to be met, including TANF applicants in the city of Norfolk must submit proof of income, residence and prove a need for childcare expenses. Applicants must also provide information regarding absent parents, the names of individuals living in their homes, date on total assets and savings as well as birth records for any children.
Utility and fuel assistance is also available across Virginia. The department offers various services to help low-income households, with a focus on seniors and the disabled, afford the cost of energy.
Eligible households from Norfolk receive financial assistance or cash grants to pay for electricity, wood, coal, gas, heating oil or other expenses under the seasonal energy-assistance program. The fuel-assistance program, known as LIHEAP is other states, helps qualified households with paying for home heating bills, and the seasonal cooling-assistance program offers relief from extreme heat.
While more limited, crisis assistance grants are provided when fuel assistance and other resources fail to meet household needs. Those funds can help keep the power on and prevent shut off. Moreover, the weatherization program makes homes more energy efficient and less vulnerable to air infiltration. This is also available in the city, and when resources allow, it can be combined with other utility bill programs mentioned above.
Senior resources are available. DHS has created programs, often in partnership with Agency on Aging centers and the government, that are structured to meet the needs of the elderly, and it can be things such as applications for Medicare, meals on wheels and more. There is also assistance with medical needs, nutrition and nursing home care.
Help with food costs is available as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Very low-income families receive help with paying their monthly grocery bills and related costs. This service was formerly known as the Food Stamp program.
SNAP provides qualified households with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, which can be used to purchase food at local retailers such as Wal-Mart and many other grocery stores. Program eligibility is determined by family size and income. The social services department may request documentation and proof of need.
Linkage to community resources, including non-profits and charities, is available at Human Services. The fact is that many people will not qualify for public aid, so the office will refer them to other local services, ranging from food pantries to church based solutions.
All across Norfolk there are shelters and transitional housing units. The human services department can refer people to these facilities. The shelters, most of which are open year-round, are intended for a diverse clientele, including families, single moms, children and adults. They offer comprehensive services, such as case management, job-readiness training, mental health counseling and referrals to medical providers.
Additional services are available to clients via the SNAPET - Employment and Training program. SNAPET is designed to help participants find and maintain employment in the eastern portion of the state. Any One Stop or Skill Source Center in the greater Virginia area also offers employment services under this program.
As part of this process, events and workshops organized by Norfolk County Department of Human Services help participants draft résumés and prepare for job interviews. SNAPET also offers skill assessments, personalized counseling, and free access to fax machines and the Internet. Participation in SNAPET is strictly voluntary, however strongly encouraged.
Low-income families, those facing poverty, pregnant women, and elderly or disabled adults can obtain health insurance through Medicaid. This is the state of Virginia’s as well as nation’s main medical assistance program. The DHS Human Services department notes that many individuals who no longer qualify for TANF remain eligible for Medicaid coverage. If applicable, proof of pregnancy or disability may also be required by social services.
FAMIS, or the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan, meanwhile, provides health insurance benefits to uninsured children in Norfolk. It can cover medications, dental costs, and other health care needs.
A number of childcare programs and subsidizes that are administered by the Norfolk social services department are available to low-income working families. Although some of these programs are open only to clients enrolled in TANF or the Head Start program indicated above, the childcare subsidy program provides services to any low-income working families or those in job training.
This is a limited public benefit, and there is often a waiting list for this assistance. Childcare services are designed for children under 13 years of age or special-needs children under 18 years of age.
A strict application process is in place for any of these benefits. Funding levels also vary widely, and for more information call (757) 664-6000 or stop by 201 E. Little Creek Rd., Norfolk, Virginia 23505.
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