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Information on Family Assistance Programs.

Most states, many companies, various groups and organizations provide help from a family assistance program. This can come in many forms, including TANF, resources provided by employers to their workers (EAP), programs for students, Union benefits, Naive Americans and many more. Family Assistance is not just TANF welfare, but it can come in many other forms of support.

Most family assistance programs will support individuals and/or their families during their times of critical need. They provide a variety of help, typically in the form of short-term relief. You can often find emergency resources to provide support to someone facing a serious medical condition or programs for medical bills, help when someone losses a job, assistance with rent, and more. There may also be mental health counseling, death of an immediate family member, help for paying utility bills, or deal with the impact of a natural disaster. Employer benefits often are different than welfare TANF or government programs.

Many of the family assistance programs focus on addressing the needs of children, seniors, and others who are considered most at risk. Employers tend to focus on all employees, no matter their income. Government Family Assistance tends to be more on people living in poverty, or colleges of course will only assistance students. Assistance available from these programs may include:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Temporary cash payments including public aid.
  • Childcare services
  • Counseling referrals, mental health care, legal aid.
  • Work and job training services
  • Accommodations for family members
  • Financial assistance and help with bills
  • Support for veterans or members of the military
  • EAP may help employees abusing drugs or alcohol





Some people may think of family assistance as being strictly from the federal or state government Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program. However, as noted above, family assistance is much more than that and can include employer assistance programs, charities, and other aid organizations.

The focus is often on providing short term financial assistance or counseling. This is done so that people can pay for their basic needs and emergency bills, while at the same time providing longer term self-sufficiency and support.

Apply for Family Assistance

A number of eligibility criteria will need to be met by applicants, and they will vary by state. Or talk to your employer human resources department for employee benefits, and those programs may be known as EAP. Or if you fall into some other category, such as Native American seeking help from FA, a student, etc. then check with the applicable office.

Families or low income persons who apply for or receive cash benefits from a family assistance program (namely TANF)  must meet certain requirements that are put into place. For example, most states will require that applicants participate in activities that will help them become able to support their families over the mid-to long term. This can include, but is not limited to, cooperating with child support, participating in job training programs, and also obtaining a part or full time job.

Contact your employer to determine if they have a plan, and as noted it may be called EAP. Or review state assistance programs in your state, and contact charities and organizations to determine what family assistance programs they offer. If you are a student, talk to an administrative office, and veterans should check with resources dedicated to them as well. Also, if you are a member of the military, they will often have their own programs to help.



By Jon McNamara

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