Every family needs a little help sometimes. One family's needs, big or small, are no more or less important than another's. If your family needs help, it takes strength to reach out. Remember, a little bit of help can go a long way to reducing the stress and anxiety that you feel when working to meet the basic needs of your family.
In South Carolina, there are many supportive programs to help your family through the tough times:
- Medicaid: Medicaid, or Healthy Connections in South Carolina, provides health insurance to eligible families with limited resources. Factors determining a family's eligibility include but are not limited to pregnancy, having a disability, low to no income, or being the guardian for a child under the age of 18 or in foster care. However, if you or someone in your family needs healthcare, you should apply even if you think you are not eligible. Learn more or apply for Medicaid at gov/members/getting-started.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP provides food benefits to eligible low-income families by adding to their monthly grocery budget, allowing them to afford more healthy food. Families, individuals, seniors and those who need help stretching their income to purchase food may be eligible for SNAP. The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) administers SNAP through DSS county offices. Apply for SNAP on the DSS Benefits Portal.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): TANF is South Carolina's welfare program that assists low-income families to meet their basic needs. TANF provides cash assistance, training and employment opportunities for single- and two-parent households. Eligible families must be South Carolina residents, willing to participate in the TANF work program and agree to pursue child support from parents not in the home. Families can apply on the DSS Benefits Portal.
- Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program (WIC): WIC is a nutrition program for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms and other caregivers of biological or foster children under five. The program provides healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, referrals to other healthcare services and more. Household size and income determine WIC eligibility. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, foster parents or other legal guardians of a child under five years old can apply for WIC. To apply, call 1-855-472-3432 or create an online account using the WIC pre-application. Learn more about the program at https://scdhec.gov/health/women-infants-children-wic-nutrition-program.
- Palmetto Pre-K: South Carolina also offers free or reduced-cost preschool programs for your three- or four-year-old child through the Palmetto Pre-K portal. In the three-step search, determine if your child qualifies, search for available programs and apply for the best preschool option for your family: Head Start, First Steps 4K or Public School 4K. Determine your family's eligibility for these programs by visiting palmettoprek.org to answer a few questions, including your contact information, child's birthday and family income.
- Child Care Scholarship Program: Funded by the Department of Social Services, the Child Care Scholarship Program, formerly the SC Voucher Program, helps income-eligible South Carolina families afford child care so parents can work, attend school, or get job training. To qualify for a child care scholarship, parents must meet various requirements, including having a child under the age of 13 in need of at least 15 hours of weekly child care services, meet income guidelines based on family size and gross monthly income, and be working, in school or in a training program. Scholarships are also available for parents with disabilities. Learn more about the Child Care Scholarship Program at https://www.scchildcare.org/families/child-care-scholarships/.
- SC Parents: SC Parents is a parenting website designed to help South Carolina families find services, knowledge and support at all stages of their parenting journey. Find tips, answers to common parenting questions, information about local parenting classes and advice from other parents. SC Parents has information from navigating the childcare search to when your child is ready to stay home alone. The website also houses a free, online statewide directory of free and reduced-cost social services in your local area. These resources include financial and housing assistance, medical care, food pantries, parenting resources and more. Visit scparents.org to search by zip code, connect with local resources and find support for your parenting journey.
- First Five SC: First Five SC connects families with infants and young children to the help they need. With a free online application, parents with children under five can securely submit their information and apply for multiple federal and state-funded early childhood programs and services at once. First Five SC connects parents to more than 40 publicly funded programs, including healthcare, food and nutrition assistance, preschool programs, child care assistance, parenting programs and more. To connect to services, parents fill out the common application by entering information about their child and household to determine which programs their family is eligible for. Visit firstfivesc.org to learn more and check your family's eligibility.
Whenever your family needs help, it’s comforting to know there are many statewide resources available to financially support you and your loved ones.
Blog post by special contributor: Children’s Trust of South Carolina