Last Updated: May 6, 2022

Note that for some programs, if you receive one you are not eligible for others. In addition, your immigration status may impact your eligibility for certain benefits. You also may not receive these benefits if you have violated your probation or parole. You can find more detailed information about your benefit eligibility by calling 211 or visiting Washington Connection’s website.

What should I do if I need cash or medical help?

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a government program that provides temporary cash and medical help for families in need. In order to be eligible, your family must have financial resources of $1000 or less (you may also have up to $3,000 in a savings account). These resources include things such as checking accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and vehicle equity. Generally, you can only receive TANF for 60 months.

You can apply for TANF online by visiting the Washington Connection website. You can also apply in person at your local Department of Social and Health Services Community Services Office. Find an office near you, or call 1-877-501-2233 for more information.

Where can I find help with getting food?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “Basic Food” in Washington, helps low income people make ends meet by providing monthly benefits to buy food through an electronic benefits card (EBT Card). With Basic Food benefits you can buy food such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, meats, fish, poultry and eggs. Participating in Basic Food also provides other benefits, including free school meals for school-aged children as well as low-cost local phone service through the Washington Telephone Assistance Program (WTAP), and eligibility for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

Eligibility is based on your monthly income and household size. Generally, low-income families who earn 200% or less of the federal poverty level are eligible.

You can estimate how much your household might receive from Basic Food by using the online benefit estimator tool.

You can apply for Basic Food online through the Washington Connection portal. You can also apply by mail or by visiting a local DSHS Community Services Office (CSO). DSHS Basic Food Benefits page.

What is the Emergency Food Assistance Program and how do I apply for it?

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP/EFAP) provides free food in cases of an emergency. Your criminal history will not impact your ability to get food through this program. Low-income families who earn 185% or less of the federal poverty level and are in need of food can receive TEFAP/EFAP food. The federal poverty level may change every year. View current guidelines. For more information about income and TEFAP/EFAP.

For more information and to find where you can receive local TEFAP assistance, call 211.

How can I find information about food banks near me?

Find the nearest food bank visit or visit our Food Banks & Meal Sites page. All you need to do to receive food from the pantry is declare that you do not have the resources to feed yourself or your family. Some food pantries may have other requirements, for example you may have to live in a certain area or may only use their services a certain number of times per year.

Is extra help available for mothers and children?

The Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) provides monthly checks for healthy food, health screenings and referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support. WIC is primarily for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms, and children under five years old. Dads, grandparents, and other caregivers of children under five may also sign the children up for WIC. Foster children under age five and foster teens who are pregnant may also be eligible. WIC does not provide food to you directly; instead, you will receive checks that you can use to purchase certain food items at the grocery store.

You can find more information about WIC eligibility.

What should I do if I need help with finding a place to live?

The best way to get information about housing services is by visiting your local housing authority, either online or in person. Find information about your local housing authority.

What about housing vouchers? Am I eligible? How do I apply?

Section 8 is a federal program that provides housing choice vouchers to low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. If you receive a Section 8 housing voucher, you are free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. You can apply for Section 8 through your local public housing agencies (PHAs). Your local PHA will help you figure out the program rules that apply to you. Complete list of PHAs in Washington.

Statewide Government Assistance Services

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Benefits

710 East College Way, Mount Vernon WA 98273

An individual released from incarceration may be eligible for Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability benefits if they have worked or paid into Social Security enough years. An individual released from incarceration may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits if they are 65 or older, are blind, or have a disability and have little or no income and resources.

“What Prisoners need to know”

“Entering the Community After Incarceration – How We Can Help”

DSHS Community Service Office

900 E. College Way, Mount Vernon WA 98273

Offers cash assistance (in addition to other general services).

Paper Application: Before 3pm, complete your interview for cash or food (application/eligibility review/mid-certification review). You may complete an online application or apply by contacting the Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233.

To mail in your application, send to:

DSHS – CSD Customer Service Center
PO Box 11699
Tacoma, WA 98411-6699.

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

Apply online
Apply in-person at your local Community Service Office

Provides temporary cash for families in need for up to 60 months. Some families participate in the WorkFirst Program. The WorkFirst Program helps participants find and keep jobs. To apply in-person, go to your local Community Service Office listed above. To apply online, please go to

Eligibility: Washington state resident responsible for care of a child or are pregnant, plus income/resources requirements, citizenship, and immigration status requirements. If you are ineligible for TANP, you may still be eligible to receive aid from Washington State’s Family Assistance (SFA) Program.

Basic Food/SNAP

Apply online

Helps low-income people make ends meet by providing monthly food benefits

Review SNAP Eligibility

ABD (Aged Blind Disabled)

Apply online
Apply in-person at your local Community Service Office

A state funded program that provides cash assistance and a referral to the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program to eligible low-income individuals who are age 65 or older, blind, or determined likely to meet Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability criteria based on an impairment(s) expected to last at least 12 consecutive months. Provides maximum monthly cash grant of $197 for a single individual or $248 for a married couple.

Diversion Cash Assistance

Apply online
Apply in-person at your local Community Service Office

Provides alternative assistance for families who have a short term need and do not wish to receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) assistance.

Additional info:

  • You are eligible for only one thirty-day period per year.
  • The maximum benefit is $1,250.
  • You must repay a prorated portion of the grant if you go on TANF before one year
  • You will not use any of your sixty-month lifetime limit for TANF benefits

CEAP (Consolidated Emergency Assistance Program)

Apply online

A cash program available to families or pregnant women who face an emergency and do not have the money to meet their basic needs for up to 30 consecutive days, once a year. This includes families whose Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance has been terminated for Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) and those who have already received 60 months of TANF and do not qualify for a Time Limit Extension.

Unemployment Insurance

Apply online
Apply via phone: call 800-318-6022

Unemployment benefits are cash benefits you can receive while you are looking for a job. They are made available through taxes paid by your former employer while you were working. You cannot apply for unemployment benefits in Washington if you did not work in this state in the past 18 months. Benefits are not based on financial need.

Kitsap Government Assistance Services

Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS) Community Services Office (CSO)

4710 Auto Center Blvd. Bremerton, WA 98312
Local: 360-473-2200. Main: 877-501-2233

Programs include food stamps, medical programs, employment support, and cash assistance (ABD, TANF, HEN). Apply online, over the phone, or in person.

DSHS, Adult Protective Services

Phone: 877-734-6277. Fax: 360-664-9103

Investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation of vulnerable persons over the age of 60 and individuals 18 and over with disabilities. Call to make a report (if the person is in immediate danger call 911).

DSHS, Aging & Long Term Support Administration (ALTSA)

1026 Sidney Avenue, Port Orchard 98366

A free information and referral service for adults 60 and over and for family and friends helping care for the older adult

DSHS, Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS)

3423 6th Street, Suite 217, Bremerton, WA 98312
Reception: 360-475-3501. Toll Free Reception: 800-423-6246. Toll Free Intake: 888-713-6115. After Hours: 800-562-5624

If a child is in immediate danger call 911.

Investigates allegations of abuse and neglect for children under 18, intake point for requesting services, information and referral, foster care, family preservation services.

DSHS, Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)

3423 6th Street, Bremerton, WA 98312

Intake, information and referral, case management, residential and employment supports, eligibility assessments for personal care services.

DSHS, Employment Pipeline


Assists with referral to work and training opportunities, pre and post employment support services, and referral to other DSHS programs.

DSHS, Home and Community Services (HCS)

4710 Auto Center Blvd. Bremerton, WA 98312

Provides long-term care services for persons with disabilities and the elderly who may need state funds to help pay for them (including placement in residential programs and caregiving services).

DSHS, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

3888 NW Randall Way Suite 201 Silverdale, WA 98383

Vocational rehabilitation services designed to help individuals with disabilities prepare for, get, keep, or advance in a job. Can help navigate finding employment with a criminal record.

DSHS, Working Connections Childcare

4710 Auto Center Blvd., Bremerton, WA 98312

Childcare subsidies for working families. Referral to childcare and early head start.

Social Security Administration

9594 Mickelberry Rd NW, Silverdale, WA 98383

Financial assistance to those with disabilities (SSI and SSDI).

“What Prisoners Need to Know” by the Social Security Administration.

More Government Assistance & Finances Guides

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Governmental Programs

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