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Public assistance programs from DHS in Iowa.

Find how to get access to public assistance in Iowa from the Department of Human Services, or DHS. Learn how to apply for SNAP food stamps and get an EBT card. Or learn about the DHS portal, Medicaid health insurance, cash assistance from FIP in Iowa and more. Government run and supported resources as well as social services help low income families, seniors and the disabled provide for their basic needs. Find how to apply for DHS assistance programs in Iowa below.

The state of Iowa can help people obtain health care, free food and groceries, provide cash assistance, and even assist people with finding a job including from Family Self-Sufficiency Grants. Priority is for families with children, seniors, and women, however all low income and working poor individuals can apply for public assistance.

Food assistance programs from Iowa Department of Human Services

Food is offered to Iowa families from WIC, which is also known as Women, Infants, & Children. This government funded and public resource is a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant women, babies, children under the age of 5, women who have had a baby in the last 6 months, and also breast feeding women. The WIC program is tasked with helping lower income families by providing healthy foods and groceries, referrals to other health care agencies as well as social services, and nutrition education.

Food Stamp applications in Iowa, known as SNAP, are offered for the working poor. The state government of Iowa Food Assistance Program provides Electronic Benefit Transfer debit type cards (EBT)  that can be used to buy groceries at grocery stores, some Farmers Markets, as well supermarkets. Only certain types of food items can be purchased. EBT cards can be used in Iowa by single moms, the unemployed and people in poverty to help buy groceries. Learn more on other free food and grocery programs low-income families.

The National School Lunch Program provides healthy lunches. Children can receive free or reduced price lunches from this public assistance resource. Another resource is the School Breakfast Program, which provides healthy breakfasts in school. Children can receive reduced price or free school breakfasts.

The Iowa Self-Help and Resource Exchange from DHS, also known as SHARE, is a program for anyone, regardless of their income, background, or religion. The SHARE Iowa program offers tasty, nutritious grocery packages at half the retail cost in exchange for just two hours of volunteer service in your local community.




Free nutrition education programs include EFNEP and FNP. They are run by the Iowa State University Extension, and services are offered for low-income families. These programs will help parents provide nutritious food for their families, which is key to leading to strong families as well as healthy children. Nutrition coaches from the state will meet with participants one-on-one and in small groups for personal advice.

Another option is the Iowa CSFP service. This provides free, supplemental food and nutrition education for the elderly, pregnant, postpartum and breast-feeding women, seniors, infants, and children up to age six. Available foods distributed by CSFP include canned fruits and vegetables, infant cereal, hot and cold cereals, cheese, peanut butter and beans, canned and powdered milk, regular and soy formula, and pastas.

Cash assistance programs

Iowa Family Investment Program, or FIP, is the state’s TANF public cash assistance service. FIP will provide cash assistance to needy Iowa families and help them become self-supporting so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives if needed. So social workers from DHS can help people find a job, and gain the skills they need to succeed over the long term. Applications for public aid and emergency cash is on the DHS portal.

Family Self Sufficiency can offer short-term, but immediate financial and public assistance to PROMISE JOBS clients. The Iowa Department of Human Services runs this resource. Families that participate will have specific barriers that they are faced with overcome. All services are related to retaining or obtaining employment. Removing these barriers to self-sufficiency might help someone find a job and therefore reduce the length of time a family is dependent on public assistance from the Family Investment Program referenced above.

Refugee Cash Assistance may be able to help needy Iowa families, including single adults, who enter the United States and state of Iowa as refugees. Cash and public aid is offered to those who are not eligible for the Family Investment Program. In addition, any refugee who receives government aid must also cooperate with work and training requirements.





Iowa Child Care Assistance is available to help pay the bills of the children of income-eligible parents who are absent for a portion of the day due to participation in academic or vocational training, employment or maybe they are involved in PROMISE JOBS activities. Financial assistance may also be available for a limited period of time to the children of a parent when the parent who normally cares for the child is unable to do so due to hospitalization, when the parent is aggressively looking for employment, or they are undergoing outpatient treatment for a mental or physical illness.

Child care services and grants are provided to people participating in activities such as families who receive Family Investment Program (FIP) or those who are approved under the PROMISE JOBS program. Continue with free child care assistance in Iowa.

Iowa DHS medical and health care assistance

Medicaid is offered in Iowa by DHS. It is a health insurance program that pays for covered medical and health care bills of low income and elderly people who qualify for this government resource. The Medicaid program is funded by both the state of Iowa as well as the federal governments and is managed by the Iowa Department of Human Services.

The aid administered by Department of Human Services is extensive. A wide range of medical bill assistance and health care services are available through the Medicaid program, including referrals to emergency dental including cleanings or extractions. However these services are covered only if they are medically necessary. There is some flexibility too, as Medicaid recipients have free choice of selecting a doctor, pharmacy, dentist for teeth repairs and other providers of services. Find free emergency tooth extraction near you.

Uninsured children can receive public medical care from the Hawk-i health care coverage plan, which is for uninsured children of working families in Iowa. The Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (hawk-i) program offers free or low-cost, yet high quality, healthcare coverage for children in homes of low or modest incomes. If you are qualified, no family pays more than $40 a month for the plan. Some families will even receive free medical care. The Iowa hawk-i program offers dental only coverage for children who have health insurance but may not have dental coverage or other options.





Phone number to apply for public assistance in Iowa

To apply for help or to learn more, call the Iowa Department of Human Services at  1-800-972-2017. There is also a portal and customer service online.


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