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Public assistance and government aid in Mississippi.

Resources in Mississippi, including public assistance and government aid, can help low income families meet their basic needs. Social services and cash assistance is available for paying for items such as food, health care, and more. Participants will also be able to work with a social worker from the Mississippi Department of Human Services to gain long term self-sufficiency, such as a new job or employment training services. Find more details on the state programs and county benefits below.

Free cash in Mississippi

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is available for needy and low income Mississippi families with children up to age 18 years of age. Cash assistance is offered regardless of race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, or gender.

Monthly cash disbursements from the Mississippi TANF public assistance program are made for children and their caretaker relatives who meet income levels and other conditions. Government aid is generally offered for those residents who do not have enough resources, assets and income to meet their everyday living needs and expenses.

The program is limited in scope and only runs for a defined period of time. A client can only receive help from TANF for no more than 60 months, and that is a lifetime benefit as well. A small number of exceptions may be provided from time to time. The exact amount of the TANF payment provided to families is determined based on their income as well as number of individuals who reside in the household.

People who receive support from this program will also need to participate in an approved work activity, such as job training or an actual job. This needs to occur after they are determined to be "work ready" by their Department of Human Services social worker. Or they need to be in a work activity no longer than 24 months (within the 60 month lifetime maximum), whether or not consecutive, after receiving public assistance, whichever comes first.

Clients of the program work with their social service worker and/or case manager to establish an employment goal for moving the family to self-sufficiency and off of government aid. Together you will create a work plan to help you reach your employment goal as quickly as possible, which will allow you to transition off of public assistance. People need to do one or more of the following work or job training activities:




  • Participate in work experience programs
  • Job search and readiness services
  • Vocational education (not to exceed 12 months)
  • Unsubsidized employment resources and programs
  • Job skills training and enhancement
  • Community service programs
  • Take classes or education directly related to employment, such as high school or GED equivalent or education related to employment, if under age 20.

While an individual is cooperating with the Mississippi TANF Work Program and while the person is meeting the requirements of their agreed upon work plan (EDP), then the individual will continue to receive access to social services and cash benefits from the government. Read more on cash assistance in Mississippi.

Subsidized child care is available from the Mississippi Certificate Program. The state, using mostly federal government funds, can provide assistance to low income families for their day care costs. Public aid is available to parents that are working, in school, or maybe attending job training. The demand for this resource is very high and funding is limited, so waiting lists are usually used. Click here for details on free child care in Mississippi.

Any type of public and/or cash assistance in Mississippi involves self-sufficiency too. The government will madate it. This may be employment, credit counseling, budgeting, and support. Case managers partner with the client on this process. The goal is to help the family (or individual) exit poverty and be financially successful long term with everything from employment to emergency savings. There may also be free Mississippi job placement programs too

Public and government food programs

The United States Department of Agriculture partners with the state of Mississippi to fund the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Public money used for food and commodity purchases, and other non-profit agencies and food pantries, provide the assistance to people in their local communities. The commodities purchased by the government will be stored at Twelve Baskets Food Bank in Biloxi as well as the Mississippi Food Network in Jackson. As indicated, the government surplus commodities are distributed through soup kitchens, food pantries, churches and homeless shelters throughout the state.

Mississippi Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help families stretch food dollars and budgets as they can get assistance with buying healthy food, vouchers, and public food assistance programs. SNAP, often referred to as food stamps, can offer lower income families free or low cost food that they need for good health. Federal laws and regulations set many of the eligibility criteria, income guidelines and resource limits.







Some residents who usually benefit from SNAP food stamps in Mississippi include people who are unemployed or work part-time, those who work for low incomes, the elderly or disabled and those who live on a small income. There is also food assistance from public aid for people who receive TANF, SSI or other public assistance cash payments. Or even learn about a wide range of disability assistance from the government.

Free Mississippi government healthcare and insurance

Seniors and elderly in Mississippi can get help from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). This is more of an information and medical counseling program designed to answer the elderly's questions about medical issues and health insurance. Whether it is supplemental insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, social services, or other private or public health coverage, volunteers who are trained and part of SHIP can answer questions, compare policies, organize paperwork and help people with filing claims and appeals.

There are many other very low income families as well as uninsured in Mississippi. Even moderate income families often struggle with paying for medical bills or prescription drugs. There are public health insurance plans, Medicaid, Medicare, and other benefits. Qualified families may get immunizations, STD checks, insulin supplies, help paying for ambulance bills, and many other items.

Local Human Service agencies that offer public assistance

To apply for help, call the Mississippi Department of Human Services at 601.359.4500 or dial 800-948-3050. Speak to a case manager to learn about all options that are available to you. Or find specific public assistance programs by county and/or city below.

De Soto County

Harrison County

Hinds County


By Jon McNamara

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