What HHS Can Do For Your Family
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides the social safety net that helps struggling Americans and their families. With the recent expansion of services, many Americans may not realize that they qualify for HHS services and resources. This guide will help families better understand what services HHS provides, and who qualifies to receive them.
Abuse and Support
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment ACT (CAPTA)
HHS administers the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act through which it provides funding to prevent child abuse and treat its victims. HHS also distributes CAPTA funds for training and technical assistance, needed by local agencies and communities. Concerned individuals may also find assistance at the Child Welfare Information Gateway that has links to each State’s reporting hotline. For immediate help, Childhelp offers a National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD).
Child Support Assistance
The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) partners with local governments and organizations to help children receive financial support. Parents obtain child support and make payments through their local agencies. Individuals can find information about the child support system, including what services are available, visitation rights and responsibilities and the employer’s role on the OCSE website.
HHS works with local communities to combat domestic violence through the Domestic Violence Resource Network (DVRN). The DVRN offers several centers to help different groups including the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Battered Women’s Justice Project Criminal and Civil Justice Center, National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody. HHS also promotes the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE), which is available online, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offers help in more than 170 languages.
Heating and Cooling Assistance
HHS also provides heating and cooling assistance through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Through the program, families with incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level (lower for people with young children and certain diagnoses) may get help with weatherization, energy-related repairs and energy bills; for a family of four with older children, gross annual income must be at or below $34,575. Struggling families can find local help through the HHS’ Office of the Administration for Children & Families Office of Community Services.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) helps struggling families become self-sufficient by providing a hand-up, job-training and education, along with “work supports” like childcare. To be eligible for TANF, the family’s income must be at or below certain levels; for a family of four, its gross monthly income must be $1,178 or less. TANF is administered by the states, and struggling families can find their local office with this easy look-up tool.
Health Insurance Assistance (Medicaid and CHIP)
HHS’ Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs help qualifying individuals, children and families find and obtain health insurance. Eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP varies, but families can easily determine that at Medicaid.gov’s insurance and coverage finder.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) helps individuals and families keep their health information, including information in medical records, conversations with doctors, and billing information, private. HIPAA also improved portability of health insurance by limiting when and how an employer can exclude someone for a pre-existing condition, prohibiting discrimination because of certain health factors and guaranteeing the opportunity to purchase COBRA insurance in some circumstances.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Often called Obamacare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides a number of benefits to families.
- Pre-existing conditions can no longer be a reason to deny coverage; for children, this began in 2010, and this will be the law for all beginning in 2014
- Limits on care, including lifetime dollar limits on the amount the insurer spends, are phased out by 2014
- Coverage cancellations can no longer occur whether you get sick or make a mistake on paperwork
- 80% of premiums must be spent on care and quality improvements.
- Preventative services must be covered
- Young adults under age 26 can remain on their parents employer-provided insurance
- Affordable insurance exchanges help consumers buy private insurance, including help with premium payments
- Healthy low-income adults without children may qualify for Medicaid
Conclusion and Other Help
Health and Human Services is an indispensable organization in the lives of struggling families in these difficult times, providing necessary services from a hand-up, to energy assistance to health care. Families may find information on even more financial services at these helpful websites:
USA.gov helps families identify loans, financial aid, grants and other government benefits that will help with a variety of financial needs.
Struggling homeowners may find help with their mortgage payments through the Making Home Affordable Program.
The Department of Labor offers a number of job training programs including emergency grants for on-the-job training.
Did you enjoy this article?