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Public assistance and government benefits Wisconsin.

Find how to get government assistance and benefits from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) as well as Department of Children and Family Services (DCF). Low-income families will be able to get SNAP FoodShare, Cash assistance from Wisconsin Works, Medicaid and other benefits from these government agencies and others. Learn more on public and government assistance in Wisconsin below, including from the ACCESS website as well as by county.

There are multiple agencies that process benefits. They include DHS as well as DCF in Wisconsin. Funding is limited, and all of the programs have qualifications that need to be met. Pubic aid is usually focused on families with children, seniors, disabled, single moms and those who are faced with a short term emergency. Get information on all of the social services, including free cash assistance, health insurance and more below.

Free food benefit programs in Wisconsin from DHS

Women, infants, and children can get food and free nutritional assistance from Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. The Wisconsin program, which is paid for by public funds, provides free or low cost nutritious foods, meals, baby formula, nutrition and breast feeding information to lower income pregnant women. Case workers that work with the WIC program in Wisconsin can also offer referral to other health and nutrition services. Aid is targeted at breastfeeding, at-risk and postpartum women, infants and children.

Free food from the federal government Emergency Food Assistance (TEFAP) program is available too. The program provides free groceries, food and surplus government commodities to food pantries and banks across Wisconsin. A number of churches, food pantries and prepared meal sites receive surplus government commodities and they are distributed with other perishable foods to the low income. These food pantries and other centers then give the aid to those who need help.

Home delivered meals can be provided to the homebound in Wisconsin from Meals on Wheels. This food assistance program is available for the homebound and people who are 60 years of age or older in Wisconsin. People who are physically or emotionally unable to travel for a meal or food, or who are stuck at home due to health reasons, may qualify for Meals on Wheels.

The service is local in nature and sometimes paid for using public money. Hot meals and food will be delivered by caring persons, most of them being volunteers. Some items may be free; others may have a low cost or ask for a donation from the person at home. Continue with senior citizen Meals on Wheels programs.




FoodShare is the state of Wisconsin version of SNAP. Low-income households, the unemployed, working poor and others can get assistance buying groceries. Beneficiaries will be given an EBT card to shop at grocery stores for fresh and/or canned food, fruits and more. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services benefit helps families and single people feed their family. There are also expedited, emergency food stamp (FoodShare) applications in Wisconsin as well.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides supplemental foods that are donated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition, the food assistance program also provides services such as nutrition information and education to low income families, and they work in partnership with other public agencies as well as state of Wisconsin organizations. There may be free bread, cheese, ensure for seniors and other aid.

A main goal of CFSP is provide additional assistance to qualified seniors and elderly in the community. In addition, aid can also be offered as an extension of the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) in Wisconsin.

The Department of Health Services Child Care Financial Assistance and Subsidy Program is known as Wisconsin Shares. This service can help families pay for child care costs and bills associated with day care providers. Most of the financial assistance is offered for paying for child care for children under 13, however teenagers up to age 19 can be covered in certain situations. Read more on Wisconsin free child care assistance.

DCF cash assistance programs and free government grants

Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) – Receive financial assistance for paying heating bills and costs. Most of the public funds are disbursed during the winter. Cash assistance can also be provided in an energy crisis situation. No matter what type of fuel a homeowner in Wisconsin uses, most types of fuel and energy bills are eligible to receive grants and financial assistance. For example, get help in paying for propane, natural gas, wood, electricity bills, or fuel oil. Over 200,000 families receive help from WHEAP each and every year from Department of Children and Family Services or community action agencies.

Financial assistance from WHEAP is paid out once per year as a cash grant during the heating season, which runs from October to May. The cash assistance provided will pay for a portion of an applicants heating and utility bills. How much money is paid out will depend on the households income and family size. Some money is also provided during the summer to help pay for cooling and air conditioning bills for people who are most at risk.





Furnace Repair and Assistance - If your boiler or furnace stops operating during the heating season, then the state of Wisconsin WHEAP program may be able to help with that too. Emergency furnace and heating system assistance includes cash payment from DCF or repairs. Or in a very small number of households a new furnace or boiler may be provided by this public assistance program to income qualified seniors and families with children.

If you run out of heat or are faced with a disconnection, a household may be eligible for financial assistance to pay your energy bill in a crisis. There will also be free fans and AC units during the summer. Financial assistance and other public aid is offered if you have no heat, are nearly out of fuel, or help may be offered if have received a disconnect notice from the heating or utility company. The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program also has a crisis component too.

Additional electric bill assistance may be provided by Wisconsin’s Public Benefits, which is another government funded program. This resource is slightly more open as to the number of people who can qualify. There may also be free appliances provided, including energy efficient dryers, refrigerators, and other household appliances. Learn more on a free dryer for low income families.

Emergency Financial Assistance (EA) can help people faced with eviction, impending homelessness, those who are homelessness, individuals faced with an energy crisis, fire, flood or natural disaster. This public aid resource is only offered at most once per year to income qualified families. The goal is to help people keep their home, or relocate into a new one. All money is only paid out if someone is faced with a crisis.

Job Access Loan is a very short term no interest loan. Money provided must be applied to helping someone find or keep a job. This includes the unemployed as well as individuals seeking new opportunities. For example, maybe a loan for a car repair or to make a housing payment. If not qualified, there are other low interest loan programs available across the state, and DCF can provide referrals.

Wisconsin Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) as well as Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) gives temporary health care and financial help to new immigrants or refugees. Funds are only offered for the first 8 months that someone lives in Wisconsin. In addition, all RCA recipients need to also enroll in an employment program to help them find a job or career as quickly as possible. Additional conditions need to be met too.

Get help finding a job and gaining skills from the Wisconsin Transitional Jobs program. This public service helps people become self-sufficient. Thousands of people have received assistance from the Transitional Jobs Demonstration Project, and many people have gained skills and reentered the workforce using this service. Work with a specialist to help find a job or develop skills.

Wisconsin Works W-2 is the state’s version of TANF. It provides free cash to low income families with children. The program emphasizes self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. But while that occurs, the cash can help the parent pay their bills. The money can pay for rent, gasoline for work, clothes, housing and basic needs. More on Wisconsin cash assistance.





Free government health insurance benefits in Wisconson

ForwardHealth – This is Wisconsin’s state run version of Medicaid. Free or low cost health care is offered by the Department of Health Services for blind, elderly, or disabled individuals, and the service provides health care and assistance for medical bills for those qualified patients. Income limits will also be factored in by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) organization.

Other public medical programs in Wisconsin offered by Department of Health Services include all of these resources listed below.

  • Community Waivers, which can offer help to the elderly, blind or disabled people who live in their own homes or in the community, rather than a nursing home or state institution.
  • Family Care is a long term care program for groups who are elderly, people with physical disabilities or with developmental disabilities.
  • The Medicaid Deductible Plan can help individuals who have high medical bills and your income is over the Medicaid program income limits.
  • Another resource known as Medicaid Purchase Plan provides health care for people with disabilities who work or who are looking for employment.
  • If you need help paying your Medicare Part A and B premiums, then the Wisconsin Medicare Savings Plans can help some people pay their deductibles and coinsurance.
  • Emergency Services Plan only covers medical services needed for the treatment of an emergency medical condition for documented and undocumented non-citizens.
  • Well Woman Medicaid Plan helps women pay for medical bills and can provide health care for those who have been diagnosed with and are in need of treatment for cervical, breast cancer, or other serious medical conditions. There is no deductible, premium, or co-payment required for the Well Woman Program.

Prescription medications can be provided from BadgerRx Gold. This government funded resource is a medical and prescription assistance program that was created to help keep prescription drugs affordable and accessible for lower income or uninsured Wisconsin residents. The prescription program is very flexible, and there is no age requirement and no screening for pre-existing health conditions. Find other prescription drug assistance programs.

Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan can provide access to affordable, high quality healthcare for all income eligible Wisconsin residents. The resource has been available for over 30 years. Even patients who have a medical condition that’s preventing them from paying for or receiving health insurance may qualify. Another beneficiary is those who have lost their employer-sponsored health coverage. These individuals may still qualify for great high quality yet affordable benefits through the state funded HIRSP.







Local public and government assistance by county

To apply for public assistance or government benefits for paying bills, medical expenses, energy costs and more dial 608-266-1865 to reach the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The Department of Children and Families also provides public assistance. That application number for customer service is 608-422-7000

Brown County

Dane County

Milwaukee County

Outagamie County

Racine County

Waukesha County


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