May 12, 2022

DHS to Offer P-EBT Benefits for 2021-22 School Year

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) helps families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program funding for meals missed while being out of school during the pandemic. The money on these cards can be used for food only.

Once believed to be a short-term program, P-EBT has now transformed into a longer-term federal response to the national public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About P-EBT Benefits

In April 2022, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture approved Pennsylvania’s plan to provide P-EBT benefits to students for the 2021-22 school year.

Beginning in mid to late June, eligible students will receive P-EBT benefits in several 10-day periods:

  • the first stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of September 2021 through November 2021

  • the second stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of December 2021-February 2022

  • the third stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of March through May 2022

  • the final stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of June through August of 2022

The amount of benefits received for each child for each stage will vary based on the individual student’s circumstances.

Benefits will be issued on existing EBT or P-EBT cards. Anyone who has not received P-EBT previously will get a card in the mail for each eligible child. The return address on the card’s envelope will be from Texas.


Children qualify for P-EBT if they receive meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and missed those meals because they were absent from the classroom due to COVID-19.

Children are eligible for NSLP if they have an approved free or reduced-price status from a household application, are directly certified by receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or certain Medical Assistance benefits through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), or are enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school. The PA Department of Human Services will work with schools to get the necessary information to determine which students are eligible.

For more details, visit the PA Department of Human Services website.


January 24, 2022

Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program Available

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is available to help Pennsylvania families who have overdue water bills or at risk of losing water service for their home.


LIHWAP is a new, temporary program established through the American Rescue Plan Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Water assistance is provided as a grant paid directly to service providers and does not need to be repaid.

LIHWAP can help households that are in emergency situations maintain essential water access. Crisis situations include:

  • Past-due water bills;

  • Termination of water service; or,

  • Threat of termination of water service in the next 60 days.


Applicants can be renters or home owners and they do not need to be on public assistance; however, they do need to have an unpaid water bill to qualify.

Eligibility and income requirements are available on the PA Department of Human Services website. The application is available online on the COMPASS website.


December 7, 2019

PA DHS Releases 2019-2022 Strategic Plan

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) released its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan outlining methods to assist Pennsylvanians in achieving “safe, healthy, and productive lives while being an accountable steward of commonwealth resources.”


In an opening message from PA DHS Secretary Teresa Miller, Miller highlights the core values and mission of PA DHS, stating:

“We strive every day to make sure…that every Pennsylvanian can be secure in the knowledge that they have somewhere to turn on that nearly inevitable day when they find themselves or a friend or family member struggling, perhaps with a physical or intellectual disability, addiction, cancer, abuse, mental illness, or any number of circumstances. DHS exists to protect and advocate for some of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and we are steadfastly committed to that work.”

With this, the plan highlights DHS’ Strategic Priorities to continue improving and streamlining its programs to fulfill its mission to “assist Pennsylvanians in achieving safe, healthy, and productive lives” and protect Pennsylvanians under the care of licensed providers.

DHS Strategic Priorities

The PA DHS Strategic Plan priorities include:

    • providing every child with a strong foundation for physical and behavioral well-being;
    • bending the health cost curve;
    • enhancing access to health care and services that help Pennsylvanians lead healthy, productive lives;
    • promoting accountable and transparent government.

More Information

For more information on DHS’ 2019-2022 Priorities, read the full Strategic Plan. To learn more about Trying Together, visit our Home page.


July 5, 2019

General Assistance Program Ending August 1, 2019

As required by Act 12 of 2019, which amended 62 P.S. § 403.2(a), the General Assistance program will end on August 1, 2019. No General Assistance cash assistance will be dispersed after July 31, 2019.

Additional Benefits Information

Current General Assistance recipients were notified of this change via mail. If they are currently receiving other benefits like Medical Assistance or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), those benefits will continue. The Department of Human Services (DHS) will notify clients before making changes to other benefits for any reason.

This change will likely result in an additional need for resources from charitable and social service organizations around the commonwealth. DHS is working closely with their partners to identify potential resources for people affected by this change.

Receiving Benefits

If you, someone you know, or someone you work with currently receives or thinks they qualify for General Assistance, they may qualify for other benefits. Individuals can contact their local County Assistance Office or apply online via COMPASS at

More Information

For more information, contact the DHS Helpline at 1-800-692-7462.

TDD Services are available at 1-800-451-5886.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services