Public assistance in Knox County Tennessee.

Temporary public assistance programs can help families, including the unemployed and people living in poverty, with making it through a difficult period until they gain self-sufficiency. Most of the aid in Knox County Tennessee falls under the Families First name, and this program covers everything from child care to transportation and job placement costs.

Applications for most of these public assistance programs are administered by the Department of Human Services. There is a local office at 2700 Middlebrook Pike in Knoxville but a toll free phone line is set up by the state too. In general, any family looking for information or an application should call that service to apply.

The Knox County TANF is a grant based program that is a key component of Families First. It is a time limited cash aid program. Applicants need to have at least one kid, but they can be single moms or dads. The applicant also needs to be very low income and/or unemployed or incapacitated. This cash aid program can pay for the following costs.

  • Housing/shelter, including grants for energy or heating costs.
  • Child care if the parent is now working and/or in job training.
  • Local transportation costs in Knox County to a job, such as vouchers for bus passes or car needs.
  • Public aid can pay for employment or training needs, such as work clothes, computers, supplies, and more.

DHS processes applications to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Many individuals or families may think of this as being food stamps, as it is the new name of the program. There is nutritional assistance, EBT cards to pay for groceries, and even cooking classes organized. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds this resource in Knox County.

Many of the SNAP food stamp benefits help fill the gap of seniors, children, the disabled, or unemployed. Using the EBT card allows the client to free up their income for paying other bills. The end result is that the benefit from SNAP, along with other USDA programs, help minimize hunger in the Knoxville and surrounding area.





Families First in Knox County Tennessee also offers child care assistance. This income based program will pay a portion of the costs for low income parents that are now working or in job training. There are even public funds available for residents going back to school, and this benefit is known as the Smart Steps Child Care Payment Assistance. DHS as well as the federal government will pay a portion of the household's total day care expenses. If the client's income is low enough, there may be some free child care given.

The disabled in Knox County can use the Department of Human Services (DHS) public aid program too. Much of this is coordinated by the county in partnership with the Social Security office as well as Disability Determination Services (DDS). Together they will process applications for the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefit programs. Find more tips and suggestions on how to apply for disability.

These are cash aid based resources for people that either can no longer work or that are limited. Both mentally and physically disabled can apply to DDS. The goal of DHS is to try to provide a decision to the applicant in as few months as possible. But note, the process still takes a very long time and many applications are denied.

DHS works to remove barriers to employment as part of Families First. Programs can help with repairing credit scores, address lack of transportation and/or childcare, and help applicants that have a mental illness or a criminal background. Clients work one-on-one with counselors to build and reinforce skills. The topics will help them:

  • Explore job leads in Knoxville.
  • Provide computer training.
  • Create cover letters or resumes.
  • Offer gasoline vouchers or bus passes.




Employment support is for individuals who are motivated to improve their career. The applicant will participate in a multiple-day employability skills class. The Department of Human Services also partners with multiple agencies, such as non-profits and workforce centers. All of these training providers work together to improve the financial stability of participants.

The Knox County DHS Office is the local center, but there is a toll free line to call to apply. That number is 1-866-311-4287, and the address is 2700 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee 37921-5698.


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