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Family Assistance

What is Family Assistance (FA)?
Family Assistance (FA) provides cash assistance to eligible needy families that contain minor children under age 18 or under 19 if the oldest child is expected to complete secondary school or vocational training by the 19th birthday.  This program also serves households containing both parents, or a caretaker relative or a pregnant woman whose pregnancy is medically verified.  This program is administered under the federal guidelines established by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.  The new program is known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

What are the Guidelines of Family Assistance (FA)?
Under FA eligible adults are limited to receiving benefits for a total of 60 months in their lifetime, including months of TANF-funded assistance granted in other states.  Once this limit is reached, that adult and all members of the household are ineligible to receive any more FA funded assistance.  The months of receipt of FA assistance need not be consecutive to be countable, but rather each individual month in which TANF-funded benefits are received is included in the lifetime count.  The TANF time limit as it is known became effective in December of 1996 when New York State received approval for its TANF plan.
Parents and other adult relatives who can work must be working or be involved in work related activities as soon after the public assistance case is opened.
Parents are also obligated to cooperate with the Department of Social Services in locating any absent parent of children who are in receipt of public assistance. In the event that the parent fails without good cause to cooperate with any aspect of the child support process the eligibility for FA will be terminated.

What is the eligibility process for Family Assistance?

  • An application for FA must be made in person at the Social Service office located at 797 Broadway, Schenectady.
  • Interviews for ongoing family assistance are scheduled Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday within 7 days of an applicant completing an application for assistance Households with emergency situations will be addressed the same day Monday- Friday.  During the interview the applicant will be asked to provide documentation to verify information contained on the application for public assistance.  Depending upon the circumstances presented on the application the case may be referred for a more comprehensive investigation known as Front End Detection (FEDS)
  • A decision on an application will normally be made within 30 days unless the applicant declares an emergency situation such as fuel emergency or lack of food.
  • The applicant receives a notice advising him/her whether or not the application has been accepted or denied. In addition, the notice also informs the applicant of the amount of the benefits that will be issued to the household and whether or not benefits will be directed to a third party.
  • If found eligible the applicant is then responsible to report any changes in the family circumstances that would affect the households’ eligibility for assistance.  In addition the applicant must cooperate with all mandated programs and must have the households eligibility for FA reviewed periodically.  The review process is referred to as recertification.