TRENTON, NJ - Parents with low and moderate incomes can sign-up their children in several kid-focused programs offered through three state departments. The programs, administered by the Departments of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Agriculture (NJDA) and Human Services (DHS) include, NJ FamilyCare, NJ SNAP, WIC, Vaccines for Children and Free or Reduced School Lunch. All of the programs are partially or fully federally funded and have comparable qualifying criteria.
This outreach effort includes a flyer titled, “Show your kids how much you love them – Apply for New Jersey’s Kid-Friendly Programs” that has been sent to the relevant stakeholders of each department, such as school districts, local government agencies and trade groups representing faith-based and social service organizations.
“We believe that one of the primary reasons parents don’t take advantage of some state-offered programs and services is because they’re unaware they exist,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “It is our goal to have this flyer distributed by any agency or organization that serves families, so that every eligible child can be enrolled.”
Children bring home book bags full of paperwork for parents to complete and return throughout the school year. The comprehensive, one-page flyer that describes each of the five available programs to raise awareness and program participation is available to all schools in English and Spanish for distribution to parents.
“Many families don’t realize that the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program provides supplemental nutritious foods to infants and children up to the age of five,” said DHSS Commissioner Mary O’Dowd. “And, every child needs their vaccines to attend school in New Jersey. If families are uninsured or underinsured, the Vaccines for Children program is available to them.”
For children older than age five in eligible families, there is the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP), which provides monthly electronic benefits on an ATM-like card for unprepared foods and grocery purchases. Children qualified for WIC and the Free or Reduced Lunch program likely meet the criteria for NJ SNAP.
“Eligible families need to fill out the application for free or reduced price meals so their children are included in the program and students whose families already qualify for NJ SNAP of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) will receive free meals,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch can improve students’ success in school.”