Free clothing vouchers are provided to thousands of children and students in West Virginia every year. The assistance is for those that are from low income families. The Department of Health and Human Resources, or DHHR, has been running this program since the 1970s and over that timeframe hundreds of thousands of vouchers have been distributed to teenagers, children, students, and the less fortunate.
While funding can change from year to year based on availability, children may receive a voucher for up to $200. The students and their parents are able to redeem the vouchers in order to purchase new school clothing, uniforms and other school supplies at participating retailers. Many charity run thrift stores, such as the Salvation Army, also redeem the gift certificates. The program is usually funded through federal government public funds, namely the TANF or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. So funding levels will vary based on government allocations and budget levels.
As with any government benefit, West Virginia has put conditions in place. Children and students that come from families that are receiving WV WORKS cash assistance or that are in Foster Care are automatically issued the school vouchers. For everyone else, there are also some fairly strict income guidelines in place. The gift certificates are usually distributed during July of each year. However other people can apply as well. Additional applications are taken from other families in West Virginia from July 1st through July 31st.
There are income limits in place that will scale up based on the number of members in the household. So bigger families can qualify, even if their income is higher. Call the numbers below or stop by a DHHR office for the latest information. Another place to try for referrals is the Salvation Army, and they can provide free supplies as well.
For those that do apply, and are found to be qualified, then the first vouchers will be received by families in mid-July. This is a time sensitive program and is one time per year only. So to that end, the state issued clothing vouchers will need to be redeemed no later than October 31 of each year. If that does not occur then they will expire and the applicant loses out on this benefit.
The assistance is for school clothing, uniforms and related items. The vouchers and certificates can be redeemed for clothing that is appropriate for school. This can include, but is not limited to, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, winter coats, underwear, shoes and other basic clothing. All of these and more may be purchased with the vouchers. Also, so called piece goods may be purchased to make clothing, if the family so choose to do that.
Another key benefit of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources program is that the purchases that are made with the vouchers will also be exempt from state sales tax. In addition, some stores and retailers that participate may even discounts to customers who use the vouchers in their stores. So this can save shoppers even more money.
Residents may file an application in one of the following ways. They can file it at a local office during July. They can print one up online and mail it to the local DHHR office. Or they can call the number below. So residents do have some options and flexibility provided to them.
If the program does not provide what the child needs, or if they do not meet income requirements, there are many other places to turn to for free school supplies. Dozens of different charities provide assistance across West Virginia, and charity type services operate each year. A leading non-profit is thefree Salvation Army back to school supply program. But there are many other charities to apply at as well in West Virginia.
For more information on the program, or to see if you may qualify, lower income residents may contact their local DHHR office or the Customer Service Center at 1-877-716-1212. Staff can advise residents of West Virginia on this program, or they may have other suggestions from regional non-profits.
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