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Hawaii public assistance programs.

Government and public assistance programs in Hawaii can help low income families, the working poor, and others who need help. A number of qualifications are in place and need to be met by applicants. The Hawaii Department Human services is the leading government organization to call for information and applications.

Cash assistance, housing, transportation and more is offered by the state. Most recipients of any public aid will also need to participate in job training or employment programs, as the assistance is intended to be short term in nature with a defined ending date.

SNAP or food stamps provide low-income households in Hawaii with coupons, vouchers, and debit cards that can be used to buy food, formula, groceries, and other items at grocery stores and supermarkets. The state will administer the program, including determination of allotments and eligibility. If found to be qualified, a family will be issued the Electronic Benefits Transfer card, which is how people will pay for their food. This is the federal governments and state of Hawaii’s main public food assistance programs.

Cash benefits are provided from the General Assistance program. Qualified families will receive cash that can be used to pay for clothing, food, shelter, rent, utilities and other basic needs and essentials. Services are provided to residents who range in age from 18 through 64, who are temporarily disabled, who don’t have minor dependents, and who do not qualify for Social Security benefits or aid. Applicants need to be very low income, or maybe not have any income at all. They also can’t be eligible for any other federal government category of assistance. Applicants also need to be certified by a DHS medical board to be unable to engage in any substantial employment for a defined period of time.

The amount paid out by the Hawaii General Assistance program will change each year and is based on government allotted funding. As the goal is to offer temporary economic assistance. In general a few to several hundred dollars can be provided each month to ensure people have some minimal standard of living, but that amount paid can change.




Hawaii Head Start State is offered in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families. It can help children and their families with health care, family literacy services, welfare, child care, community service activities, activities relating to children with disabilities, education, and even services and financial aid for homeless children.

The program is a public/private partnership, multi-agency that was developed and facilitated at the State of Hawaii level to improve school readiness, improve quality of life for low-income children and their families, and enhance access to comprehensive services such as food and health care.

The Employment and Training program, or E&T, was created to help people find and keep a job and become self-sufficient. It is usually offered or required by people who receive SNAP food stamps, and it will focus them on employment opportunities, on-the-job training, work experience, resume review, and limited job search activities. Reimbursement for work-related expenses and child care can also be paid by Hawaii as part of the E&T program.

Another job program is First-to-Work, and this is for individuals who receive public assistance from TANF. Priority is for on-the-job training, employment, and job-readiness programs, skill-building, and other employment activities. Other assistance provided includes transportation reimbursement, child care, and other work-related expenses. Work + provides Hawaii individuals with work experiences to welfare recipients.

TANF or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is also offered by the Department of Human Services, however it is funded by the federal government. It provides Financial Counseling, Direct cash payment to the families, Job Search and Job Preparedness, and more. Basically short term cash assistance can be provided to pay for bills, food, and basic needs, while the recipient attends job training services and programs.

This is a time-limited welfare reform program for low income and qualified adults with children. In order to receive public assistance from this resource, it requires beneficiaries to work and it will promote self-reliance, responsibility, and family stability. There are strong incentives and penalties, child care support, and other aid and cash benefits that are offered.





Other assistance and programs that are part of this include First to- Work program to prepare for self-sufficiency, GED Prep & Skill Training, Child Care Subsidies, Subsidized/Unsubsidized Employment, Housing Placement Services, Work-Related Expenses, and Vocational Education.

The Hawaii Benefit, Employment & Support Services Division offers a number of other services and programs too. This includes Child Care Connection Hawaii, which can help families find and/or pay for affordable child care. Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD) can be provided. The division can also offer information on services such as LIHEAP or weatherization.

QUEST is a health insurance/coverage plan. Lower income or uninsured Hawaii residents can receive universal access to quality public health care, including checkups, medications, and more. The size of the program is very limited. TANF or General Assistance beneficiaries can often sign up. Other people who may benefit may be those who lost their employer-sponsored coverage or extended coverage in a group health plan because of loss of employment within 45 days of their date of application;  pregnant women and children; children age one but under age six with limited household income.

QUEST also offers Transitional Medical Insurance, Immigrant Children's Program, Medical Assistance for Pregnant Women, Funeral Payments, Medicaid Fee-for-Service, and a Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.
The Hawaii Department Human services can be reached at 643-1643.




By Jon McNamara











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