As a caregiver, it might seem like your to-do list is endless. You provide everything for your children, and it can get overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it all alone! There are many government benefits and nonprofit services available to support families’ needs, from food assistance to affordable health insurance, child care, and more.
Being a caregiver has never been easy, but reports are showing that the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly difficult for families with children under 5. Accessing government assistance programs can be a great way for families to get support for meeting important needs. These programs have helped millions of families in California, and, most importantly, they give caregivers time and energy back in their day to enjoy being with their children.
This list of programs available to Californians is a great resource for getting support:
Food assistance: CalFresh Food is a modern statewide food program that helps Californians buy groceries when they’re out of work or working less. CalFresh Food benefits can be used in stores, online, and at many farmers' markets. If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit the website in English or Spanish. Some eligibility requirements do apply.
Health insurance: Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, aims to provide health care services to about 13 million Californians. Families with limited income and resources can get help paying for a variety of medical services for parents, teenagers, children, and infants. If you’re already enrolled in CalFresh, you also qualify to receive Medi-Cal. You can apply for Medi-Cal by mail, in person, or online.
Child care: If you’re looking for affordable child care options near you, the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network is a great place to start. This network has local resource and referral agencies (R&Rs) in every county across California that help families find and choose child care options that best meet their needs. To get started, read more about R&Rs, and other affordable child care options, in our previous article.
Cash aid: CalWORKs is a public assistance program that provides cash aid and services to eligible families with children. You can find out if you qualify online. California parents of children under 6 years old might also qualify to earn tax credits through the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and Young Child Tax Credit programs. If you qualify, these programs can boost your tax refund by hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Read our previous article to learn more.
Car seats and fittings: The California Office of Traffic Safety has a portal to connect you with organizations in your county that might offer free car seats. Many organizations like AAA, local fire stations, and more also offer free car seat fittings by appointment. Kid Travel provides more resources for free or discounted car seats, as well as information about where you can get your car seat fitted and inspected.
To learn more about services you might qualify for, visit the Programs and Services section of our website. Additionally, First 5 County commissions fund local service providers, health and learning programs, and resources in every county across California to help meet the needs of your family and community. Find First 5 County commissions in your area.