Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Home page

Benefits Services

Services and support when raising a relative’s child can be a lifesaver. Getting answers to questions and finding services, programs, and support can be confusing and overwhelming.  We are here to help.   


Kinship Navigators are people whose job it is to help you “navigate” through the system. They will talk with you and help you find local services and programs. Kinship Navigators are available to answer questions for relatives who live in 30 counties. In some other communities, Resource Persons who are support group leaders or community volunteers are available to share with you about local resources. You can see  Washington State's Kinship Navigators Serving Grandparents and Relatives Raising Children (PDF) or go to WA. State County Map to find your Kinship Navigators or Resource Persons.      

Short-term support to pay for food, housing, clothing, school supplies, legal services
Funds are for relative caregiversnot involved in the child welfare system through the Kinship Caregivers Support Program. Find the KCSP in your county.

On-going financial assistance
Cash and medical assistance for children who are in the care of a relative or other adult through a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - TANF child-only grant. The caregiver must meet certain income guidelines to qualify for assistance on behalf of the child. Recipients of child-only TANF can also get additional one-time cash payments for help with emergency housing or utility needs. Go to DSHS Child only grant to learn about the program.

To apply, contact your local Community Services Office - CSO or apply on-line using the Online Application for Services.

Emergency, short-term funds to pay for furniture, clothing, school supplies
These TANF funds are for children placed by the Division of Children and Family Services - DCFS through the Relative Support Services program and are to facilitate or maintain DCFS placements.  Contact your DCFS worker or the local DCFS office.

Benefits CheckUp - BCU is a FREE comprehensive online service to screen for federal, state, and some local public and private benefits for adults ages 55 and over. BCU can help you connect to programs that help pay for prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other needs. BCU also provides a detailed description of the programs, contacts for additional information, and materials to help successfully apply for each.

Seasonal Child Care program for seasonal agricultural workers
Homeless Child Care program for families who are temporarily homeless

A Seasonal Child Care program for seasonal agricultural workers and a Homeless Child Care program for families who are temporarily homeless (living in a shelter, car, tent, park, transitional housing, or temporarily with family or friends) through the Department of Early Learning.

Nutrition education and counseling, nutritious foods, and assistance with access to health care
For children under the age of five who are income-eligible and at nutritional risk. Available through the Women, Infants, and Children - WIC program. Find a WIC clinic or apply for WIC.
Free or reduced price meals
Breakfast, lunch, and snacks in many before and after school day care programs in many public and private schools. Available through the National School Lunch / School Breakfast Programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program - CACFP. Contact your local school for more information.

Basic Food program
Find information about the state’s Basic Food program, school breakfast and lunch programs, summer meal programs, and other food resources at the Basic Food website or by calling 877-514-FOOD.

Locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables for WIC participants and lower income seniors through The WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.  WIC participants click here to apply.  Senior Farmers Market participants can contact their Senior Information & Assistance office at their local Area Agency on Aging to find out how to participate.

For information about foster care visit the DSHS Children's Administration website.

Early intervention services, for children, birth to three, are available through the Washington State Early Support for Infants and Toddler’s - ESIT program.

If you care for a child with a disability or have a concern about a child’s development, birth to three, call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 and ask for the name of a Family Resources Coordinator - FRC in your local community.  The FRC will help you find out if a child you care for is eligible for early intervention services.  You do not need a referral from a doctor to call.  The WithinReach website provides essential resources for family health.

For more information about Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (formerly ITEIP)
visit their website or call (360) 725-3500.
Please Ask, Babies Can’t Wait

Services for individuals diagnosed with a developmental disability and/or delay may be available through DSHS' Division of Developmental Disabilities - DDD .   For more information visit the DDD website.

A statewide hotline provides information and referral on a broad range of health and social services related to raising children of all ages. Topics of interest to relative caregivers include health insurance, nutrition, immunization, dental health, child care, child development, child safety, teen health, children with special needs, and parent/sibling support. Call 1-800-322-2588 (TTY 711) or go to: Family Health Hotline.