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Illinois public assistance and government aid.

The Illinois Department of Human Services offers several financial and public assistance programs to the low income as well as people faced with an emergency. State residents who need cash assistance, SNAP food stamps, Medicaid or some other support to help to make it through a difficult period can assistance from one of several government resources. Get more information on Illinois social services and public assistance by county below.

Free government grants and cash aid from public assistance

This Illinois agency runs the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which is focused on families with one or more dependent children and/or pregnant women. Qualified individuals may be able to get help with temporary cash assistance and other government benefits. Some of the expenses that TANF in Illinois can help pay for include utilities, food, shelter, housing, and other emergency expenses other than medical bills.

Some additional details on this program include the following. The publicly funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program may be able to offer cash grants and temporary financial assistance for either of the following categories of families. Resources can help either pregnant women, or assistance is offered for families with one or more dependent children. Money from TANF can help pay for basic needs and expenses that people have every day, like food, utilities, rent, and housing. It is often combined with food stamps. Read more on cash assistance in Illinois.

In addition, another key of the public assistance program is paying for transitional services and self-sufficiency type programs. The state of Illinois wants to ensure that families become independent, so TANF supports and can help with items such as GED preparation, job retention services, vocational training, postsecondary education, classes in basic English, help with child care, work stipends, help people find work, etc.

Earnfare is a resource for those adults who do not have custody of their children and who also receive SNAP public assistance, which is formerly known as Food Stamps. Program participants will need to first work off the value of their SNAP benefits. Only at that time can they work more hours and earn up to $294 per month.

Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD) helps those who qualify and need cash assistance for emergency expenses.




If someone does not qualify for any other programs, and if they are out of options, then the Illinois Department of Human Services runs a General Assistance (GA) program. This may be able to provide qualified low income families with money and cash grants for bills to pay in a crisis. The DHS organization can also coordinate limited medical care and public programs when individuals do not qualify for any other cash and financial assistance programs.

Illinois Emergency Food & Shelter gives comprehensive shelter as well as housing services to people struggling. There may be grants to help with paying rent, support for homeless persons and persons faced with evictions. There are also food stamps as part of Illinois link. Social workers can also direct applicants to other rent programs and public assistance resources, as housing in Illinois is expensive. Find a listing of resources, and read more rent help.

The federal government created an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low income families. This credit will put cash back into an individual’s pocket and can help people locate resources in Illinois that can complete and file their state and federal taxes for free.

Homeless Youth Services works to meet the immediate survival needs (which include food, clothing, housing and shelter) of youth and assist them in becoming self-sufficient.

The Illinois Department of Human Services also runs Head Start, which is paid for by public funds from the the federal government. The service provides a comprehensive program of education, parent involvement, public health insurance, and social services for children under 6 years of age.





Illinois Welcoming Centers can provide a number of services, referrals, and information. The state funded locations can offer, among other things, employment training, community health care, educational services, and information on public assistance. Best of all, these services and more can be found in just one location. Another benefit of these locations is that the Illinois Welcoming Center staff is bilingual. Services are offered in both English and Spanish, and Illinois clients have access to multilingual translators and interpreters.

Transitional Assistance (TA) – This public assistance program is for those who do not qualify for either Refugee and Repatriate Assistance (RRA) or AABD. Specific qualifications and rules apply.

Illinois Medical Assistance Programs can provide families access to affordable or free, yet high quality public health care and assistance. Medical Assistance Programs are administered through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). While various conditions need to be met and are in place by the state, in general for medical bill assistance a patient or family needs to have a child under 19, needs to be pregnant, or health care may also be offered for seniors as well as the disabled.

All Kids can provide uninsured children in Illinois' with free comprehensive health care and access to public programs. Resources offered include payment for prescription drugs, doctor's visits, checkups, hospital stays, vision care, dental care and medical devices like asthma inhalers and eyeglasses. Contact your local DHS Family Community Resource Center for more information on medical care.

Help for paying for child and day care is available. The Illinois Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provides working families, the low-income, and people who are training for a job with money to pay their child care costs. They can also use state approved, high quality yet affordable child care providers which will  allow families to continue to get job training or get help for paying for child care as they work. Read more on Illinois child care assistance.

Illinois public aid for food stamps, groceries, and infant formula

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Program participants will receive the Illinois Link Card. This program, which use to be called food stamps but was renamed to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), may be able to help low-income people, seniors, the disabled and their families buy the food and groceries they need for good health as well as nutrition.

Most Illinois households with low income can apply for and possibly receive SNAP benefits. While there are many conditions that need to be met, the two biggest factors are an applicant’s income as well as their total number of household members.

WIC is another food assistance program that is administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services. WIC is short for Women, Infants, and Children food assistance. It helps new mothers and young children as well as pregnant women eat well and stay healthy, and ensures their child also eats well. Participants can get special checks to buy healthy foods such as juice, eggs, cheese, milk, cereal, dry beans, peanut butter, or peas. The WIC program also provides the public with information about nutrition and general health care to help keep people healthy.





The Illinois WIC Farmer's Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) - This is another public food assistance program for Women, Infants, and Children across the region. The government can provide special checks and vouchers to buy fresh, nutritious fruits, breads, vegetables, and herbs from both farmers' markets and roadside stands.

Apply for public assistance from Illinois Counties and Cities

Select a Human Services office below. They offer public assistance for the cities and/or counties in question. Whether grants, job programs, financial help, or Illinois link food stamps or case management, social services are offered. Or call them at 1-800-843-6154.

Cook County

DuPage County

Kane County

Lake County

McHenry County

Will County

By Jon McNamara


















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