Lancaster County Pennsylvania Community Action Program.

When facing a hardship, the Community Action Program of Lancaster County may be able to help. Case managers from the non-profit can offer referrals, information, and maybe financial aid to qualified low income and unemployed families. However the focus is always on self-sufficiency.

Some of the main programs administered are below. However the agency, its staff, and partner organizations do their best to provide for basic needs such as shelter (including rent help), food, funds for utility bills to prevent a disconnection, and education/job training. Other services in Lancaster include information on child care and resources for children and seniors.

Child care resources

The agencies CAP Child Care Center provides parents with affordable, high-quality care. This is an option for all children in Lancaster City irrespective of their background. The qualified staff and teachers of CAP Child Care provide children with an early childhood education in a safe, nurturing environment in the center all year round.

If that option doesn’t work, then the CCIS or Child Care Information Services provides income qualified Lancaster County residents with information on and access to additional child and day care services. Following eligibility determination, low-income or struggling families may also receive subsidies provided they are working or enrolled in education or training programs.

Lancaster County residents can get all the information they need regarding the early childhood education programs and child care providers. This is offered from Community Action Program as part of their CCIS office. Information services are available to all Lancaster County residents free of cost, regardless of household income.

Child care vouchers and subsidies may be offered. They are generally for  low-income parents/caretakers whose children are under 13 years of age. Only parents who are working, meets income limits and/or enrolled in training/education programs qualify for this program. Older children aged 13 to 19 who are disabled and unable to care for themselves may also qualify for subsidized care.




The voucher program is flexible in that parents/ may select any child or day care facility that participates in the CCIS program. Based on the applicants family size and income, CCIS pays a portion of the child care bills directly to the provider. The parent or family only needs to pay a small portion, known as a co-payment.

Self-sufficiency services from Community Action Program of Lancaster County

Women and children can look into domestic Violence Services. The non-profit Community Action Program is committed to providing much-needed assistance and support to all domestic violence victims, regardless of their gender, and their children in Lancaster County. All services are confidential and provided free of charge. Facilities are also handicapped-accessible.

The Lancaster County Emergency Shelter program provides temporary, safe emergency housing in an undisclosed location to domestic violence victims, single parents and their children. The typical length of stay is up to one month and services provided during that time address the victim’s crisis. Case managers also offer long term planning for self-sufficiency.

Domestic violence support and counseling helps victims develop self-esteem, establish goals, explore relationship alternatives and promote personal growth. The counseling sessions provide domestic violence victims with an outlet to share their experiences. The free counseling services is provided to both DVS shelter residents as well as victims in the community who do not live at the shelter.

A regional Legal Clinic helps domestic violence victims obtain the full protection of the Pennsylvania court system. The attorneys from the clinic provide representation in legal matters ranging from spousal and child support, protection from Abuse Orders to divorce consultation, civil legal matters, and child custody

Shelter and transitional housing provides support in the form of up to 12 months of temporary housing assistance. In addition to that, there is a host of comprehensive support services to domestic violence victims, women and their children. Bridge Housing offers a very safe and affordable housing alternative for victims who need time to build their finances before moving on to permanent housing.

The Work Ready program provides employment assistance to all participants by helping with resume development, job application completion, interview training, and job searching activities. The program helps identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the attainment of long-term employment by addressing child care, transportation and job readiness skill needs. The majority of program participants are TANF or welfare recipients referred by the Lancaster County Social Service Office.




The Family Center aims to support and preserve the family unit. It does this by offering a variety of programs that provide early intervention, referrals, and connect families with other community resources and government benefits. Learn about options such as emergency rent help, LIHEAP, and weatherization from the Community Action Program.

Head Start is the counties and nations main comprehensive school readiness program that provides 3 to 5 year old children from working poor families with nutritious meals, free health screenings, dental care and follow-up treatment. It is really a comprehensive, developmentally appropriate early childhood education service. It also offers parents social support and family support resources. Head Start’s curriculum emphasizes, math, language, science, physical education and long term interpersonal growth.

The local Head Start program models are tailored to meet the specific needs of the communities being served. Depending on the circumstances, Head Start services may be offered in the traditional classroom model or in the home as in certain rural areas of Lancaster County. A teacher meets with qualified families on a weekly basis and helps the family structure learning opportunities in the home setting.

  • Food and nutrition from Head Start provides free healthy meals to children attending the centers and also helps parents plan cost-effective, nutritious meals at home.
  • Health and dental is for kids enrolled into-Head Start. Local clinics and the Community Action Program work to provide dental and health screenings as well as follow-up assistance when necessary to all children enrolled in the program.
  • Disability Assistance from Head Start welcomes children with disabilities. It works closely with other groups in Lancaster as well. Support will include disabled children and it will offer them all services and activities. Staff will help them set and implement individualized goals. Children from the community who meet requirements who are enrolled in the program get all the support and assistance they need to ensure their success.
  • Family Engagement - Parent involvement is a long term, critical component of the Head Start. Parents may get involved several different ways, from volunteering in the classroom to participating in program planning and decision-making. The Lancaster Community Action Agency program also works with participating families to work and establish toward goals, and provides referrals to a broad range of non-profit community services that help families become self-sufficient over the mid to long term.

The state of Pennsylvania TRACKS provides Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) to qualified low-income individuals and families in Lancaster County. The aid is for those who are eligible to receive SNAP food stamp benefits. The program aims to encourage better nutrition and physical activity in students K3 through high school in the School District of Lancaster. The program also provides educational services through qualifying food banks, pantries, charities and senior centers throughout Lancaster County.

Financial support programs

Food assistance from the Community Action Program of Lancaster County helps administer the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). They are also heavily involved in the State Food Purchase Program, or SFPP, for Lancaster County, through which healthy, nutritious free food is distributed to the needy or low income individuals in the community. This is done through thirty-three pantries and seven feeding programs located throughout Lancaster County.

Free baby formula from the Community Action Program of Lancaster County supplies thousands of poor WIC participants with fortified infant formula. These formulas contain key ingredients to help bolster the health of infants. WIC participants can expect to receive their orders within 1 to 4 days from the time of their initial inquiry.





The program ensures that this infant formula is affordable and accessible for all recipients. It works by pricing it at reduced rates and by making it more widely and easily available even in rural Lancaster County and inner-city locations.

Financial aid from the Outreach program provides emergency and rental assistance, referrals to food pantries and various support services to low-income individuals and families throughout Lancaster County. It also helps administer resources such as PPL and UGE for paying utility and heating bills, and see more details below. It can also help waive any back payments due on energy bills.

OnTrack is a program that offers a reduced monthly electricity payment plan based on family size, household income and total electric usage. When possible it provides an opportunity for the customer to erase debt owed to PPL by making on-time payments. So if you have unpaid utility bills, those can be reduced over time. The program also provides energy education and weatherization services to households.

Community Action Program of Lancaster County Operation HELP provides emergency financial aid and grants to PPL customers struggling to make heating payments. While it is limited in scope, Operation Help is funded by voluntary donations.  More information on how to apply for OnTrack and Operation HELP can be obtained by contacting PPL at 1.800.342.5775.

UGI's CAP (Customer Assistance Program) is for Penn Natural Gas. It is one of their Customer Assistance Programs (CAP) and it helps make UGI gas bills more affordable by offering qualified customers a monthly payment plan based on a percentage of their income and natural gas usage. When your utility bills are paid on or before the due date, the difference between the amount billed and the actual amount used can be forgiven. More information as well as eligibility details can be obtained by calling UGI directly at 1.800.276.2722.

Senior Centers from Community Action Program of Lancaster County connect older adults, 60 years and above, to socialization, support services and recreation in Lancaster City and Columbia. The Senior Center program provides eligible participants with free health screenings, transportation and referrals to other services available in the community.

The WIC - Women Infants and Children Nutrition program helps improve the health of eligible pregnant women. The program can also help new mothers, and children by providing nutrition education, healthy foods, formula, and referrals to health and social services. The support offered, as part of WIC, also provides food or grocery vouchers to eligible families made payable to stores throughout Lancaster County.

Farmer's Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which provides fresh, nutritious, and uncooked foods (like fruits and vegetables) from farmer's markets to eligible children and women. WIC staff issue vouchers from June through September when local fresh produce is readily available through preapproved Lancaster Pennsylvania farmers' markets.

The Community Action Program of Lancaster County is based at 601 S. Queen Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17608 phone number 717.299.7301 or 800.732.0018.


By Jon McNamara

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