Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programis the new name for the Food Stamp program. These benefits are used to buy food and help eligible low-income households in Pennsylvania obtain more nutritious diets by increasing their food purchasing power at grocery stores and supermarkets. If you are eligible, you will receive a Pennsylvania Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card which is used to make food purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets.

How to Apply:

There are a couple of different ways to apply for SNAP, please choose the option that suits you. If you do not know if you are eligible, you may still apply.

You can apply for or renew your SNAP benefits online by using COMPASS. COMPASS is the name of the website where you can apply for the SNAP program and many other services that can help you make ends meet.

Or, you can file an application at your local county assistance office

  • Download an Application for SNAP benefits from the Web and return it to your local county assistance office

Application for cash assistance, SNAP and Medical Assistance Benefits (English version)

Solicitud para recibir beneficios(Solicitud para recibir beneficios)

If you need help completing the application form or need more information about benefits, trained county assistance office staff can help you.

The following persons may apply:

  • The head of the household;
  • The spouse of the head of household;
  • Any other responsible household member; or
  • A designated authorized representative, who can be a friend, relative, neighbor, or anyone else the applicant trusts to go food shopping and use his/her SNAP benefits.

What are the minimum and maximum monthly benefit amounts?

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Minimum benefits for eligible households range from $2 to $16.

More information about the eligibility requirements for SNAP can be found in the SNAP Handbook.

How do SNAP benefits Work?

SNAP benefits are placed in an “electronic” account that only the recipient can use. This system is called Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT. The eligible household receives a plastic card, the Pennsylvania EBT ACCESS Card. This card allows withdrawals for food purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets. The store simply uses the EBT ACCESS card to “electronically” subtract purchases from the SNAP account. The eligible household can only spend the amount that is in the account. This is not a credit card.

What are the income eligibility requirements?

To get SNAP benefits, your income has to be under certain limits.

SNAP households may recieve deductions from their gross income for things like housing costs, child or dependent care payments, and medical expenses over $35 for elderly or disabled people.

Questions Regarding SNAP Benefits

If you have questions about SNAP you may call the Department of Public Welfare Helpline toll-free at 1-800-692-7462 (1-800-451-5886 TDD number for individuals with hearing impairments) or your local county assistance office.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326 Witten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing , or have speech disabilities and wish to communicate with the Office of Civil Rights, may call the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 (English) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

General Information About SNAP

Mental Health Services

Mental Health services are administered through county Mental Health/Mental Retardation (MH/MR) program offices. The county MH/MR offices serve as a referral source. Most actual mental health services are delivered by local provider agencies under contract with the county MH/MR office. The county MH/MR office determines a person’s eligibility for service funding, assesses the need for treatment or other services, and makes referrals to appropriate programs to fit treatment and/or other service needs.

For a list of county MH/MR office locations and contact information visit: MH/MR Program Administrators Association of Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Network of Care is a web resource which provides information and tools, such as:

  • Information & service directories for every county in Pennsylvania
  • Research library
  • Free online trainings available in multiple languages, including American Sign Language
  • Local, state and national links to goverment resources and organizations that specialize in mental health
  • Bill tracking to follow current state and federal legislation
  • Social networking
  • Secure storage of personal folders including health information, reference materials, WRAP plans and Mental Health Advance Directives

You can also find services in your county by using the Human Services Provider Online Directory

Pennsylvania’s Approach to Children’s Behavioral Health

Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP)
The current public children’s behavioral health system in Pennsylvania is based on the principles and framework developed more than 20 years ago through the Child and Adolescent Service System Program. This Introduction to CASSP describes the origins of CASSP in Pennsylvania, highlights current initiatives and services, and lists some basic children’s behavioral health services.

Student Assistance Program (SAP)
Student Assistance Program is designed to assist school personnel in identifying issues including alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and mental health issues which pose a barrier to a student’s success. The Student Assistance Program is administered by the PA Department of Education’s Division of Student and Safe School Services in partnership with the PA Department of Health’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and the PA Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Juvenile Justice

The system of Juvenile Justice in Pennsylvania is based on the concepts expressed by balanced and restorative justice.  This concept is based on an understanding that crime is an act against a victim and a community and that restoring victims and communities is a vital part of the process of treating young offenders, decreasing the chances that they will reoffend. More information on Balanced and Restorative Justice.

If you are having difficulty finding the information you need, please Contact DPW.

Use the links below to find information about our Youth Development Center and Youth Forestry Camp facilities. We maintain three regions:

Central Region

  • Loysville Youth Development Center
  • South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit
  • Youth Forestry Camp #3

Western Region

  • New Castle Youth Development Center
  • Cresson Secure Treatment Unit

Eastern Region

  • North Central Secure Treatment Unit
  • Youth Forestry Camp #2

Integrated Children’s Services

The Department of Public Welfare is taking a comprehensive approach to serving children, birth to 21 years of age, through programs that focus on long-term prevention, early intervention and services that support family stability, child safety, community protection and healthy child development. This comprehensive approach began in June of 2004 with the development of the Integrated Children’s Services Plan.

Integrated planning calls for all child-serving systems within a county to plan together for one system in which appropriate services can be accessed regardless of what “door” a child may initially enter. This planning process is an integral first step toward building a holistic approach to servicing the individual and family.

PA ChildStat Community Level Outcome Indicators

Bulletins available from the Bulletin Search page:

  • Integrated Children’s Services Plan FY 2011-12 (search for Bulletin #OA-10-01)
  • Child Welfare Needs Based Budget  Bulletin FY 2010-11 (search for Bulletin #3140-10-02)

The links below will also provide more information on the Integrated Children’s Services Plan.

HealthCare / Medical Assistance

Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid, and sometimes referred to as MA, pays for health care services for eligible  individuals 

How to Apply for Medical Assistance

There are a couple of different ways to apply for Medical Assistance, please choose the option that suits you. If you do not know if you are eligible, you may still apply.

1. You can apply for or renew your Medical Assistance benefits online by using COMPASS.  COMPASS is the name of the website where you can apply for Medical Assistance and many other services that can help you make ends meet.

2.  You can also apply for Medical Assistance by contacting your local county assistance office.

3.  Or, you can download an application form to send to your county assistance office. If you need help completing the application form, a county assistance office staff member can help you.  Click on the link to download an application.  Application for cash assistance, SNAP and Medical Assistance Benefits (PDF download)

Solicitud para recibir beneficios (Solicitud para recibir beneficios; PDF transferencia directa)

 What if I am not eligible for Medical Assistance?

Contact your county assistance office  and a trained staff member will determine what programs may be available to you. 

Or you may explore these links to learn about additional health care programs available in Pennsylvania.

Early Intervention Services

While all children grow and develop in unique ways, some children experience delays in their development. Children with developmental delays and disabilities benefit from The Pennsylvania Early Intervention program, a state supported network of parents, service practitioners, and others which builds upon the natural learning opportunities that occur within the daily routines of a child and their family.  

Early Intervention:

  • Provides support and services to families with children birth to age five, who have developmental delays and disabilities
  • Supports services and resources for children that enhance daily opportunities for learning provided in settings where a child would be if he/she did not have a developmental delay and disability.
  • Provides families’ independence and competencies.
  • Respects families’ strengths, values and diversity.

 Early Intervention supports and services are designed to meet the developmental needs of children with a disability as well as the needs of the family related to enhancing the child’s development in one or more of the following areas:

  • Physical development, including vision and hearing
  • Cognitive development
  • Communication development
  • Social or emotional development
  • Adaptive development

Child Support Contact Information

For information about the child support process in Pennsylvania, please contact the Bureau of State Child Support Enforcement at 1-800-932-0211 or visit the Pennsylvania Child Support Program website for further information.

Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit
(the state child support payment processing center)

  For individuals who pay or receive child support1-877-727-7238
  For employers, lien holders and title companies1-877-676-9580

The Bureau of State Child Support Enforcement also manages an online tool to assist with Pennsylvania Child Support Program services including:

  • Locating non-custodial parents
  • Establishing paternity
  • Establishing support orders
  • Enforcing support orders
  • Reviewing and adjusting support orders
  • Monitoring and distributing child support payments
  • Cooperating in interstate enforcement

Child Care and Early Learning

Increasing evidence has emerged to show that children’s learning opportunities in the years before kindergarten have an important effect on their performance in school and ultimately their ability to contribute to society as adults. Through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Pennsylvania is helping our children, families, teachers and communities reach their promise.

Keystone Stars

We want to make sure that early childhood programs in Pennsylvania have the tools to continually improve service to children and families. Through the Keystone STARS program and the STARS rating system, parents are assured of the quality programs for their children. You can search for a Keystone STARS program in your area.

Help with child care expenses

If you are looking for help to pay child care expenses, or if you need help figuring out how to care for and educate your young child, Child Care Works can help. For more information, call the Child Care Works helpline at 1-877-4-PA-KIDS. You can also find help and information at your local Child Care Information Services office.

We share the concern of parents the child care centers, group child care homes and family child care homes in Pennsylvania meet basic health and safety standards. Through our Certification Services Bureau, we certify and register child care facilities to make sure they meet these standards. Search for a child care provider You can find child care providers near your home or workplace using the Online Child Care Provider Search database.    Licensing and Inspection Reports You can also use the Online Child Care Provider Search to review certification information about a provider, including the provider’s certificate status, verified complaints and inspection results. If you want more information about a provider, please contact the Regional OCDEL Office that covers the county where the provider is located.

Disabilities or developmental delays

If your child is birth to five and has disabilities or developmental delays, our Early Intervention services can provide access to as many opportunities as possible to help them reach their promise. Parents interested in early intervention services may contact the CONNECT Helpline at 1-800-692-7288.

Assistive Technology

Below are website links to products and equipment that may aid in the assistance of children and adults with disabilities and functional limitations.

To maintain current understanding on assistive technology developments, this section is linked to the Temple University Institute on Disabilities.

Assistive Devices

  • Assistive Technology, Inc.:
  • Cornucopia of Disability Information:
  • Crestwood Communication Aids:
  • Deafworks:
  • HITEC: Assistive Communication Products:

Information, Services, Educational Resources

  • Abledata:
  • A Guide to Disability Rights Laws:
  • BLIST: The Comprehensive Index of Blindness-Related Emailing Lists:
  • Hiram G. Andrews Center:
  • Infinite Potential Through Assistive Technology:
  • Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation/Disability Services:
  • The Alliance for Technology Access:

Funding Resources

  • Medicare Coverage Policy:
  • Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. (National Assistive Technology Funding Link):
  • Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF):