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Montana Public Assistance Programs

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The state Department of Public Health and Human Services administers a number of programs aimed at helping low-income Montanans move out of poverty and become self-sufficient.

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These include:

Child Care Assistance

The department offers "Best Beginnings" child-care scholarships to qualified low-income families who send children to licensed child-care centers, registered group or family child-care homes, or legally unregistered child-care providers. Each family participates in the cost of that care by making a co-payment based on family income.

Scholarships are available to low-income working families and families who get cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

More on child care assistance

Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP)

CHIP is a low-cost, private health insurance plan that provides coverage for eligible Montana children up to age 19. Parents are in charge of the health care their children receive, and in some cases they are expected to make small co-payments.

To be eligible, a child must:

  • Be a Montana resident and U.S. citizen or qualified alien;
  • Have been without health insurance coverage for at least three months;
  • Be ineligible for Medicaid;
  • Meet income guidelines; and
  • Have parents who do not work for the State of Montana.

The department contracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana to provide health insurance coverage for children enrolled in CHIP. The department pays a premium for each child every month.

Applications for CHIP are available at local health departments, WIC offices, Head Start facilities, and Indian Health Services. You can call 1-877-KIDSNOW (1-877-543-7669) to request an application.

More about CHIP

Energy Assistance

The department offers two programs aimed at helping low-income individuals reduce their heating costs.

The Weatherization Program helps participants to improve the heating efficiency of their homes and thus reduce their energy consumption. The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) pays part of winter energy bills for eligible people. Most utilities offer discounts to LIEAP recipients.

Eligibility for weatherization and fuel assistance is based on income and assets. Homeowners and renters may apply for these programs.

If your household receives benefits from Supplemental Security Income or the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, you may qualify automatically for weatherization or fuel assistance.

You can apply for energy assistance at your local Human Resources Development Council. Applications for weatherization assistance are accepted year-round. Applications for fuel assistance must be submitted October 1-April 30 .

More about energy assistance

Food Stamps

The goal of the Food Stamp Program is to help eligible Montanans eat a more nutritious diet by supplementing their food budget. Income, resources, and household size determine the amount of food stamps a household can get.

To apply for the program, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal alien, have a Social Security number, meet income and resource guidelines, and-if you are between the ages of 15 and 60-register for work.

You can apply for food stamps at your local Office of Public Assistance.
Download Application for Public Assistance
Download Application for Public Assistance (Spanish version)
Download Application for Food Stamps Only

More about food stamps


Montana Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that pays for a broad range of medically necessary health care and long-term care for eligible low-income Montanans.

Medicaid is governed under broad national guidelines, but each state can establish its own eligibility standards, decide what services to cover and for how long, and set the rate of payment for services. In Montana, the Medicaid program is administered by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

To be eligible for Montana Medicaid, you must meet financial requirements that take into account your income, assets, and resources. You must be a Montana resident and a U.S. citizen (or qualified non-citizen), and you must fall into one of the following groups:

  • Parents or other related adults with dependent children under age 19
  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • Women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer or pre-cancer
  • People aged 65 or older
  • People who are blind or disabled (using Social Security criteria)

Medicaid recipients receive either full or basic Medicaid coverage based on which eligibility group they fall into. Those who are eligible for full coverage are able to get coverage for all services that Medicaid covers, assuming they are medically necessary. Full Medicaid is provided to recipients who are:

  • Under age 21
  • Blind or disabled
  • Age 65 or older
  • Pregnant

Everyone else receives basic Medicaid coverage. Basic Medicaid covers all Montana Medicaid services except for dental care, audiology services, eyeglasses and vision exams, durable medical equipment, and personal care services in the individual’s home. Services excluded under basic Medicaid may be covered if necessary for employment or in emergency situations.

To find out if you qualify for Medicaid, call or visit your local Office of Public Assistance.
Download Application for Public Assistance
Download Application for Public Assistance (Spanish version)

More about Medicaid

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

TANF provides temporary financial assistance to needy families. A household may receive TANF benefits for no more than 60 months.

Those who may be eligible for TANF benefits are:

  • Minor children;
  • Certain relatives with whom minor children are living, including siblings;
  • Women in their last trimester of pregnancy who have no other eligible children; and
  • Refugees with minor dependent children.

Among other requirements, applicants must meet income and asset criteria, be citizens or legal aliens intending to live in Montana, and furnish a Social Security number.

You can apply for TANF at your local Office of Public Assistance.
Download Application for Public Assistance
Download Application for Public Assistance (Spanish version)

More about TANF


The goal of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is to give children the best possible start in life by ensuring that they get proper nutrition both in utero and during their preschool years. The program provides nutritious foods, such as iron-fortified cereal, milk, eggs, peanut butter, and dried beans, as well as formula for mothers who choose not to breastfeed. It also provides nutrition education to improve eating behavior.

To qualify for WIC, you must be either 1) a woman who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or recently had a baby, or 2) a child up to age 5. In all cases, applicants must meet income guidelines, and a health professional must consider their health to be at risk.

More about WIC
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