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Help for Tennessee Families

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The State of Tennessee administers many programs to help citizens find a job, get job training, access health care services, and reduce transportation costs. Please use this Web page as a resource to locate programs and services that can help you weather these tough economic times.

This page will help you find resources on the topics below:

State and Federal Assistance

2-1-1 Community Assistance
Residents who need help can contact 2-1-1 to speak to a United Way representative for information about available social services in their local area
Benefits Wizard
FindHelpTN helps Tennesseans find state and federal programs and services they might qualify for. We look at the basic rules for each program to see if you might be eligible. Start now.
Families First provides temporary assistance to needy families.
Families First provides temporary cash benefits to families who have children and are experiencing financial difficulties. These benefits are time-limited to 60 months in a participant's lifetime. The program emphasizes work, training, and personal responsibility. See if you are eligible and sign up online.
Locate your local Human Services Office for specific forms of assistance.
Adult Protective Services - Stressful or tough economic times are often hard on the elderly and other vulnerable adults. Adult Protective Services should be called when there are suspicions of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.
Child Support Services - DHS offers numerous services to parents or legal guardians trying to obtain financial and medical support for their child or children.
Find your local Human Services Office
Are stress and anxiety taking a toll on you or loved one?
Consult this list of mental health and substance abuse service providers across the state, or call the Crisis Information Line at 1-800-809-9957. This line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is open to anyone who needs mental health crisis services.
For General Assistance
Residents who need help can call 2-1-1 to speak to a United Way representative for information about available social services in the local area.

Paying for College

Get help paying for college.
Read about student financial aid at the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation Web site.
Save smart for your child's education.
Start saving for future college costs today with the TNStars College Savings 529 Program, administered by the Tennessee Treasury Department. The program is low cost, and it offers a wide range of investment options and excellent customer service.
Earn money for your education through community service.
People who serve for a year as AmeriCorps members in Tennessee can earn up to $4,725 for college. Volunteer Tennessee has information about programs and how to apply.
Test Preparation
The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, features LearningExpress Library which includes test preparation courses and practice tests for undergraduate and graduate level entry exams such as the ACT, SAT, GRE, and NCLEX (Note: Users must set up an account to take the practice exams and courses. For help setting up an account, please visit Registration Help).

Job Center

Trouble finding work?
Tennessee Career Centers are designed to give job seekers and employers access to necessary services.
Lost your job?
Read about Tennessee's Unemployment Insurance program.
Company moving or shifting production to a foreign country?
You may qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance if your company has moved to a foreign country or is your business affected due to increased imports or a shift in production to a foreign country.
Job Training?
Are you looking for training in a demand career? There are many local providers that provide workforce training.
Job Training Resources from Tennessee Libraries
The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, features the LearningExpress Library, a database that includes free career resources such as resume and cover letter writing, interview tips, and skill building courses. (Note: Users must set up an account to take the practice exams and courses. For help setting up an account, please visit Registration Help). The TEL also includes the Infotrac Vocations, Careers, and Technical Education database, which provides career information and vocational education guidance. Many public libraries in Tennessee offer free computer classes and job search help.
A veteran in need of job placement services?
All U.S. military veterans are eligible for job referral and referral to training programs through the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development office of Veterans Assistance.
Are you 55 years old or over?
The Senior Community Service Employment Program, funded under Title V of the Older Americans Act, serves persons with low incomes who are 55 years old or over and have poor employment prospects. The program has two purposes: to provide useful community services and to foster individual economic self-sufficiency through training and job placement in unsubsidized jobs.

Mortgage and Financial Assistance

In danger of foreclosure on your home?
Are you anticipating a change to your adjustable mortgage that will be too expensive for you? Do not ignore the situation. Act now. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has provided training to many organizations across Tennessee that will provide free and confidential counseling about your options.
Learn about Great Save, a new refinance program from THDA
The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has a new mortgage program called ìGreat Saveî to refinance adjustable rate mortgage loans closed after December 31, 2001 and before January 1, 2008. To qualify, the THDA must determine that a ìfinancial hardshipî to the borrower is likely if they do not refinance. Find a participating lender.
Involved in a possible lending or mortgage-related scam?
The Department of Financial Institution’s Consumer Resources Division will identify if there is a problem and help you through the formal complaint process.
Problems with banks or other financial institutions?
Both the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have answers for banking or lending issues.
Questions about commercial transactions and licensing?
The Department of Commerce and Insurance can help with questions about Insurance, Securities, Consumer Affairs and licensing for a host of other professions.

Energy and Transportation

Need assistance with heating and cooling expenses?
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funds to the states to help meet the utility costs of low-income eligible elderly and disabled adults. The program, which serves more than 60,000 Tennessee households each year, is administered through contracts to a network of 19 established non-profit and local government agencies experienced in providing energy assistance programs. Services are available in all 95 counties. You can apply for services by contacting a LIHEAP agency near you.
Need ways to increase energy efficiency and save on power bills?
Find tips on energy savings on the Department of Environment and Conservation's Web site or call the Office of Environmental Assistance toll-free at 1-800-734-3619.
Looking for ways to reduce transportation costs?
Tennessee Smart Commute provides tools to help you reduce transportation costs, improve air quality, reduce congestion on roadways and learn about other alternative transportation choices. On this Web site, the Department of Transportation provides tools to thoroughly explore your commuter options, including Walking, Biking, Passenger Rail, Public Transit and Ridesharing.
Looking for additional public transportation resources?
Public transportation is available in all of Tennessee's 95 counties. There are also special programs for those over age 65, disabled or who have a household income of less than $16,000. For more information, call the Department of Transportation's Multimodal Division at (615) 741-2781.

Health Insurance

Need Health Insurance for your children?
CoverKids is Tennessee's free or low-cost health insurance for uninsured children. TENNderCARE is a full program of checkups and health care services for babies, children, teens and young adults who have TennCare.
Are you eligible for TennCare (Medicaid)?
TennCare is a government-operated health insurance program designed for people who are eligible for Medicaid, as well as for some children who do not have insurance. TennCare provides health coverage for 1.2 million low-income children, pregnant woman and disabled Tennesseans.
Can't afford your medications?
CoverRx offers low co-pays for more than 250 generic medications and diabetic supplies, including name brand insulin, in addition to discounts on select name brand drugs and additional generics.
Are you unable to obtain health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions?
Effective October 15, 2010, AccessTN will stop accepting new applications. However, the newly created and federally funded Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) is now available to Tennesseans. Those who are already enrolled in AccessTN will not be affected by this change, and coverage will continue for current members. Individuals who have already applied for coverage through AccessTN will still have the opportunity to enroll if approved for coverage. To learn about PCIP, including how to apply, visit or call 1-866-717-5826

Health Care

Need basic health services?
Tennessee's county health departments offer basic health services including children's special services, family planning, immunizations, well child visits, WIC and nutrition services, HIV sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment and communicable disease control. Many also offer primary care for uninsured adults, with fees based on income.
Need help getting vaccines for your children?
Tennessee doctors enrolled in the federal Vaccines for Children Program may give free, federally funded vaccines to eligible children from birth through 18 years of age.
Need help connecting with programs to meet your health care needs?
Health Assist Tennessee helps Tennesseans overcome barriers to receive necessary health care services. The Tennessee Primary Care Association links Tennesseans to federally qualified health centers across the state that serve the uninsured, underinsured, and those with private insurance.
Need a mammogram or annual Pap test?
The Tennessee Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program provides clinical breast exams, mammograms, and Pap tests for eligible Tennessee women free of charge.
Need dental care?
Contact your local health department information on availability of services or eligibility guidelines.
Need health information?
The Tennessee Electronic Library, administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, includes the Health and Wellness Resource Center database and the Health Reference Center Academic database, which include magazine and journal articles, and pamphlets devoted to health information.

Food and Nutrition

Nutritional help for mothers and children.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, provides food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services to low-income women, infants, and children.
Nutritional assistance benefits are available through the Food Stamp Program
The Food Stamp program provides nutritional assistance benefits to children and families, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families. More than 385,000 families are enrolled in the Food Stamp program in Tennessee. Each month, at least $80 million in benefits are distributed to these families. Food stamp benefits are issued and accessed electronically using a Benefit Security Card or EBT Card. To apply for benefits, visit your local DHS county office, or see if you are eligible and apply online.
Does your child qualify for the Free and Reduced Price School Lunch and Breakfast Program?
Tennessee's School Nutrition program provides free and reduced priced school lunch and breakfasts to thousands of children every day. Families who may not have previously applied or met the income eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply now to enroll their children in this program. The School Nutrition Director in the central office for your school system can provide you with the necessary application. If you need assistance reaching your local director, please contact Sarah White, state director for school nutrition, at (615) 532-4714 or toll-free at 1-800-354-FOOD (3663).
Basic facts about free and reduced price meals
Federal income eligibility guidelines

Healthier Living

Need help quitting tobacco use for good?
The Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine provides personalized support for Tennesseans who want to quit smoking or chewing tobacco completely free of charge. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and for the hearing-impaired call, 1-877-559-3816.
Looking for information about how to make good nutritional choices?
Get Fit Tennessee provides useful information to help Tennesseans stay active and eat healthfully on a budget. Included are a cookbook with low-calorie, low-cost recipes, a daily online food journal and a calorie calculator, which help users keep eating habits on track. The Health & Fitness Tracker helps you keep log your physical activities and monitor your progress.

Affordable Activities

Looking for affordable recreation?
Check out the low cost getaways and free day trips from Tennessee State Parks and One-Tank Trips.
Free books for children under age 5
All Tennessee children under age 5 are eligible to receive Imagination Library books through the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation. The program provides one book per month from birth to the child's fifth birthday at no cost to the family and regardless of income. For information on how to register a child, call toll-free 1-877-99-BOOKS, or send an e-mail to
Need reading tips and book-specific activities kids?
Find reading tips and book-specific reading activities for babies, toddlers and preschoolers to extend the benefits of the books in the Imagination Library beyond the printed page.
Books, movies, music and more
Visit your local library to take advantage of the books, movies, and music, including downloadable audiobooks and books on c.d. Many public libraries in Tennessee offer free programs for all ages which include storytimes, book clubs, crafts programs, lectures, author visits and more. Find and contact your local library.

Small Business Center

Need financing for your small business but can't get it through traditional banks?
The Small Business Administration helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.
Southeast Community Capital provides loans to disadvantaged small businesses lacking access to traditional financing options in low-income areas throughout Tennessee.
Strategies for Small Business is a leader in providing SBA loans to businesses throughout the country.
Assistance for small and minority-owned businesses.
The Tennessee Treasury Department developed the Small and Minority-owned Business Program to provide loans and program services, such as technical assistance, to foster the expansion of small and minority-owned business in Tennessee.
Need a mentor to help jump start or retool your business?
The Business Enterprise Resource Office provides technical, financial and management information assistance to small, minority and women owned businesses in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Small Business Development Center offers free assistance to help business owners grow and develop successful, thriving businesses.
Counselors to America's Small Business, or "SCORE," is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Small Business Resources from Tennessee Libraries
The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, includes the Infotrac Small Business Collection which features over 200 articles and journals that highlight tips, strategies and success stories of small businesses. Many public libraries in Tennessee have Small Business Resources Collections which include books, magazines, newspapers, and directories. Find and contact your local library.