Public assistance programs in Kent County Michigan.

Providing a combination of government benefits and more long term self-sufficiency services, the Kent County Department of Health and Human Services provides financial aid and other support to very low income families. There are also resources for the disabled, such as cash assistance from SSI, and unemployed. While social workers from the county offer referrals in most cases, there are instances in which Grand rapids and Kent County Michigan can provide direct assistance themselves.

Financial, public and cash aid

A time limited program that can provide cash assistance for basic needs is MI Bridges, otherwise known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. There is also the Kent County State Emergency Relief (SER) as well as SDA, which provides public assistance to the disabled. While there can be exceptions and there are a number of terms in place, most of the support is for families with pregnant women or dependent children, the unemployed, poor, and they also need to be aggressively seeking employment and self-sufficiency. SERO in Kent County is more wide ranging and can pay for home repairs, heating bills, rent, deposits, and more.

Cash grants are issued as part of TANF/MI Bridges, and the funds can be used for paying a number of bills, ranging from shelter to food and medical costs. The public aid program from Kent County Department of Health and Human Services can also be combined with other state and federal government benefits.
Participants in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families also need to be working towards independence and to get off welfare. So there are services such as Workfirst which can touch upon job retention or gaining new skills. There is even an educational component, and that may be GED classes and the like. Social workers from the county office will help clients enroll.





There can be federal public assistance funds available in the county from time to time, and they include programs such as Emergency Food and Shelter, SER as well as General Assistance. Families facing a crisis may be able to receive money for critical expenses, such as rent to avoid homelessness or food. This is mostly run by non- profits in the area and separate charity groups.

Utility, gas and heating bill assistance is all part of LIHEAP, the main federal programs for paying energy bills. In most cases a credit will be issued on the tenants or homeowners account, but in some cases Kent County Human Services may offer other forms of payment.

Social workers from the county provide other assistance as well, such as counseling or outreach. There may also be referrals to weatherization. This will help the LIHEAP client save money and use electricity more efficiently. Find details on Michigan LIHEAP cash grants.

The state of Michigan Child Care Assistance Program can help with day care costs or maybe even after school care. This is a public aid option for working parents, provided they have a low income. There may also be public subsidies issued to parents that are in training, and the county can help clients pay a portion of their day care bills as part of this resource.





Free food assistance in Kent County

Food stamps, or SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, help feed families, including single parents and homes with children. EBT cards are issued to clients, and they can use the funds to help pay for groceries. Many people pass up on applying for food stamps in the area, so Human Services tries to spread the work as many households in Kent County with low income can apply for and possibly receive public aid as part of SNAP benefits. They just don’t know they qualify. Find details on food stamp eligibility.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has applications at the Health and Human Services in Kent County. There is another government created food assistance program, and the aid is targeted at new mothers, babies and young children as well as pregnant females. WIC vouchers can be used by them to buy food and formula, and it will help them eat well and stay healthy. There may be items such as peas, rice, milk, formula, beans, and more provided.

Public medical care in Kent County

Medical assistance programs are available in the county, and they mostly rely on state and federal government funding. The main resource is Medicaid, and it is for the very low income. There can be some exceptions such as those for a family that has a child under 19 or that is pregnant. Medicaid is the nation’s main public health care program for the working poor.

Kent County Department of Health and Human Services also addresses other medical needs. They are part of the NACO prescription drug discount card plan and help with ACA / Affordable Care Act Enrollment. There are navigators for finding affordable or low cost insurance plans, help for immigrants in Grand Rapids, and other public medical bill assistance plans out there.




Apply and referrals to Kent County public assistance

Kent County Human Services can always provide linkage, referrals and other support too. In fact, many people will not qualify for these public benefits, so they do need to explore all other resources. So the county can direct residents to other local services, ranging from job placement to dental care. The main office is at 121 Franklin Street, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49507. Call 616-248-1000.


By Jon McNamara

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