Richland County public assistance and social services.

Seniors, the disabled, and low income in Richland County can get help from regional public assistance programs. The Department of Social Services, using both both state and federal resources, can help the less fortunate satisfy their basic needs by assisting with SNAP food stamps, applications for government health care, low income energy bill assistance, and other financial aid.

Cash assistance is available from Family Independence. This is the county's version of TANF, and it provides federal government grants for very low income families with children. The money can be used to pay for bills and living costs ranging from rent to food and utility expenses.

As part of FI, the recipient will need to participate in job training and take part in social service department organized activities to find full time employment. Any public aid will only be provided as long as the client is actively seeking self-sufficiency and full time employment.

Working closely with One Stop Job Centers in Columbia, the county will organization job fairs, set up workshops to help clients gain basic skills such as for computer usage, and they also partner with local employers. A number of resources are used to help residents both find and keep a decent paying, full time job with benefits.

Emergency utility bill help is available as part of the federal government funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Grants are available for paying a portion of electric costs or even cooling bills in some cases. This will be for very low income families in Richland County, with emphasis on seniors and households with young children that would be at risk without any power.

Public aid from disability programs is available in partnership with the Social Security Administration. A small, monthly cash payment can be made for those that either can't work, or that have limited ability too. The main options available are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as well as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The money can be used by the disabled to pay for basic living needs, including rent or medical bills, or whatever they may be.

ABC Child Care will pay for a portion of expenses that parents need to pay. This government subsidy will only be available if the parent is working or is actively seeking employment. Or in some cases there may be assistance provided to applicants if they are pursuing a GED or in job training.




Not only is there aid for paying a portion of these expenses, but social services can also help parents locate a provider in their town. The county has a database of quality, affordable day care providers, and this can help residents in the screening process.

The Richland County social services department (DSS) administers applications for other public benefits as well. Some of what may be administered is below.

  • Resources for transportation to a job interview as part of FI.
  • Advice and help for relocating for employment reasons.
  • Public aid may be provided for refugees or immigrants.
  • Medical bill assistance and health insurance is part of Medicaid, and this can be for medications and other needs.
  • Applications for telephone assistance is provided by Lifeline, this is for low income families to ensure they have some type of access to communications.
  • Food programs for children, including during the summer or a backpack service.

SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance is the primary state of South Carolina and federal government food program. There is a focus on very low income families that meet certain poverty guidelines, and tens of thousands of people rely on this benefit each year.

Food stamps can be used at stores across Richland County, ranging from Wal Mart to Kroger and more. The family will be issued a debt card which they can use to help pay for their grocery items, ranging from canned goods to perishable food. Clients of SNAP will also be eligible for other public aid, such as cash assistance from FI to job training.




Seniors and children can benefit from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. It will improve the nutrition and health of participants by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA commodity foods. This will usually operate on a quarterly basis throughout the county.

For more information, the social service department in Richland County can be called at (803) 714-7300. Or the main DSS office is at 3220 Two Notch Rd., Columbia, South Carolina 29204.


By Jon McNamara

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