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Arkansas public assistance programs.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services runs a number of public assistance programs for the low income and needy. In some cases cash assistance can be provided to pay for basic needs such as food and medical care. Other programs will focus on providing case management, advice, and referrals. Tens of thousands of Arkansas families benefit from these government resources and public programs, and they can be very effective at offering short term help in an emergency situation. However the goal of these various Arkansas services is to ensure people become self-sufficient over the long term.

Food from public assistance programs

Food pantries, churches, and soup kitchens all provide food and meals as part of the Arkansas Emergency Food Assistance Program. The program provides government surplus food to these non-profit agencies, which then distribute food to families and individuals across Arkansas. Call 501-371-1400

Food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is another public food assistance program that was created to end hunger in Arkansas. Low income households, including seniors and disabled, who receive aid from this resource can buy the food they need for a healthy diet from SNAP benefits and vouchers.

Summer Food Service Program as well as the National School Lunch Program distribute free food and meals to the needy. The programs work with the federal government public assistance resource known as Commodity Distribution Program.

Arkansas healthcare services

Medicaid is a public health care program that is offered to the low income and needy in Arkansas. The government funded program can help pay for medically necessary health care costs and medical services for low-income as well as less fortunate persons. Both the state and federal government pay for the service and resulting medical as well as dental bills.




The Medicaid Program pays only for covered medical and health services. Doctors and hospitals are directly reimbursed by Medicare in Arkansas. A number of different medical services, medications, and costs can be paid for by Medicaid. Note this public benefit is only for very low income families, the disabled, or Arkansas residents living in poverty. If not qualified, then find other sources of financial help for paying medical bills, which anyone can use.

ARKids provides health care insurance and medical care for children who are uninsured or whose families can’t afford to pay their medical bills. There are two different plans offered by ARKids. Low-income families can receive a comprehensive package of benefits and savings on their medical costs and bills.

Low income Arkansas families, and those living in poverty, can apply for free health insurance from public programs. There is everything from Medicaid to federal government resources like CHIP and state programs. Using public funds, there may be help in medical or dental care, prescription drugs, diabetes, obesity, and so much more. Find a list of government free health insurance.

Financial aid from government aid in Arkansas

If you need help paying for child care while you work, look for a job, or attend job training, then the Free Arkansas Child Care Development Fund may be able to provide cash assistance for those costs. Help is offered for qualified low income families. 1-800-322-8176. Continue with free child care in Arkansas.





Eligible refugees who arrive in Arkansas can get financial help from the Refugee Resettlement Program. Both cash assistance and medical care can be provided for up to 8 months.

Cash assistance is offered from the TEA Program. Temporary assistance can be paid out to help needy families with children or a pregnant member pay their bills and for their basic needs. In addition, participants most commit to finding a job. The goal is to build self-sufficiency and help people become less dependent on public assistance and government aid. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Service runs this program, which can also be referred to as TANF. Find more details on cash assistance in Arkansas.

Arkansas Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)can help people save money on their energy bills. Free energy conservation materials can be installed in homes and apartments to lower utility bills. Improvements made to homes can include weather-stripping, insulation of ceilings, duct sealing, replacement of broken windows, repairs to AC units as well as health and safety measures. Or get free caulking of doors and windows that are required prior to weatherization.

The Arkansas Emergency Services Unit coordinates and runs all individual assistance programs for victims of disasters such as floods, hurricanes, or fires. Funds, grants, and material may all be provided to impacted families.

The Arkansas Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is offered for paying electric and utility bills. Grant money can pay your bill on a monthly basis. Or, if you are faced with an emergency and your power is about to be disconnected, then financial assistance can be provided to deal with the emergency situation. Funding is limited from this government funded program, so apply for financial help early in the season. Also get referrals to local bill paying programs.





Applying for public aid

Most of it is “time based”, meaning the government will only help for a limited period. They encourage self-sufficiency along with employment with any public assistance paid out. Even working from home may be an option. Call the Arkansas Department of Human Services at 501-682-1001 for information on public assistance and to learn how to apply.


By Jon McNamara

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