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Public assistance West Virginia and government aid.

Low income families in West Virginia can get help from public assistance programs. An extensive number of resources and services can help pay for bills and expenses in an emergency. Locate information on emergency public assistance and case management in West Virginia below.

WV WORKS is the states version of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The program is paid for by public funds and grant money from the federal government. WV Works has a goal of helping people become economically independent. Assistance is offered to help at-risk families become self supporting, services are focused on enhancing the well-being of children, and cash and case management can assist families near the poverty level. So cash can be used to pay bills while at the same time individuals receive help finding a job and/or enhancing career skills.

Cash assistance is provided on a monthly basic to eligible families from WV WORKS. In addition, most people who receive a monthly WV WORKS check also receive public medical care from Medicaid and free food from the government SNAP program.

Food assistance for children is also offered by the WV WIC program. The resource is administered from within the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, the Office of Nutrition Services. This government organization administers several different programs and initiatives, all of which are designed to promote a healthy start for West Virginia's babies and children. The programs that are focused on low income families with children include.

  • Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance as well as Pregnancy Systems (PNSS and PedNSS)
  • The Farmer's Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Breastfeeding Promotion and Support

Health care is provided to West Virginia families from Medicaid. The federal government program provides medical care to the low income and uninsured in the community. Coverage can also be offered to people who are in an institutional setting, such as a nursing home. Basically this public health care program is offered to individuals who otherwise may not be able to afford the medical care they need.




Both state and federal guidelines require that an extensive variety of services are provided to families, depending upon the individual or family circumstances and financial situation. Note that recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) automatically qualify for Medicaid. In addition, other lower income or working poor individuals or families may apply for and receive Medicaid, if eligible. The medical program is provided under a number of state insurance plans.

WV Right from the Start – This will provide insurance coverage for your pregnancy and your new baby as well. This public assistance program will help residents’ access medical care if they are uninsured or have limited health care benefits and are not eligible for Medicaid but meet other necessary requirements. It will in effect allow people the ability to arrange to get health care for yourself and your baby. Services provided include:

  • Get help in finding and signing up for Childbirth classes
  • Assistance in quitting drinking or smoking
  • Receive guidance for eating healthier for both you and your baby
  • Accessing Parenting training and classes
  • Get help with arranging transportation to medical and doctor appointments

Free vaccines can be provided to your child by the West Virginia Division of Immunization Services. The program known as Vaccines For Children ("VFC") provides shots and vaccines to qualified children including those without health insurance coverage. Children enrolled in public health care programs such as Medicaid can also receive immunizations for free too.

West Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, is also managed by the WV DHHR. The SNAP program provides monthly cash benefits and vouchers to help eligible low income households buy the food and groceries they need. Some factors that will be looked at when determining eligibility include household income, assets, number of family members, and some household expenses. Case management and counseling from social workers can also be offered alongside with the vouchers.





Subsidies for child care - Federal government grants are used to provide financial assistance to low income families. The funds can help them offset a portion of their day care expenses. West Virginia relies heavily on public funds to keep this program going, so the number of parents that can be assisted is limited. Read more on West Virginia free child care assistance.

Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, operates in West Virginia and it will provide recipients of the public assistance programs with the aid they qualify for. For example, funds and vouchers from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Diversionary Cash Assistance, WV WORKS, and the Child Support Incentive are all distributed using the card.

Help with burial expenses and funeral costs in offered by the Department of Health and Human Resources as well. The West Virginia burial assistance program assists the low income and working poor with cash payment of up to $1250 toward the cost of funeral expenses for an indigent child or even an adult. That is the maximum paid, and most applicants receive much less money. The exact DHHR program benefits are determined by the burial rate and current public funding that is allocated by the state of west Virginia. More on funeral and burial assistance.

Disaster Programs are run by the Department of Health and Human Resources. This can pay for medical bills, dental costs, housing, and other expenses that were incurred from a disaster, such as flooding, fire, or another event.

Residents who are faced with a crisis may qualify for help from the WV Emergency Financial Assistance program. Families and individuals may get help with bills when they are without available resources or other funding. The public assistance and government funded program is designed to provide short-term emergency financial assistance for paying bills and basic needs. Also meet with specialists for free advice and case management to help make it through the crisis.

Medicaid for Long Term Care, which is medical care that is provided in a nursing home. It can also include health care provided in the home for a disabled or aged person.

Refugee Resettlement provides financial and public assistance to families that are refugees. Receive cash, Social/Employment Services, and Medical care. Programs and resources are offered to qualifying individuals and families in West Virginia. The cash assistance provided as well as the medical coverage is similar to both WV WORKS and Medicaid.

School aged children can get money to pay for their school clothing and/or uniforms from West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The program is focused on the low income and kids whose families receive TANF, and an annual allowance is offered to them.







Transportation Assistance can be provided for recipients of the Children with Special Health Care Needs as well as Medicaid. Reimbursement for the cost of transportation to doctor appointments can be offered on a limited basis.

Free school supplies and clothing - Thousands of children and students from low income families receive vouchers that can be sued to pay for school clothing and other needs. The program only operates once per year and a number of conditions need to be met by low income families that apply. Federal government and public funds are used to pay for these vouchers. More on West Virginia school vouchers.

West Virginia Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) assists eligible households with the cost of utility bills, including home heating expenses. Assistance is offered through direct cash payments or grants that will be made directly to utility companies on the customer’s behalf. A crisis component is available for households who are faced with imminent shut off of their power.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources can be reached at (304) 558-0684. Or click here to find a listing of local WV social service offices.

County specific public benefits in West Virginia

Each city and county also has their own DHHR office. This is where a member of the household can get more hands on support in applying for public assistance. they can review the resources above as well as many other programs that may help them.

Kanawha County


By Jon McNamara

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