Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Department of Children and Families

Economic Self-Sufficiency

For assistance, call 850-300-4323 or visit https://myflfamilies.com/service-programs/access/

What is the purpose of the program?

The Economic Self-Sufficiency Program Office is responsible for all public assistance benefit eligibility services operated by DCF, such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), known in Florida as the Food Assistance program; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), known in Florida as Temporary Cash Assistance; and Medicaid.  In addition, the office is responsible for the Homelessness Program, Public Benefits Integrity, and Refugee Assistance Programs.

What services are provided by the program?

  • The Automated Community Connection to Economic Self Sufficiency (ACCESS) is Florida's service delivery model for the state's public assistance benefit program. ACCESS determines eligibility for programs such as Temporary Cash Assistance, Food Assistance, and Medicaid. Department staff, with the support from a broad statewide network of community partners, provide the following services.
    • Temporary Cash Assistance provides cash assistance to families with children under the age of 18, or through age 18 if the 18-year-old is enrolled in high school full time. The program provides time-limited financial assistance and services intended to help families gain economic self-sufficiency. These families must meet the program's technical, income, and asset requirements.
    • Food Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low income families meet their household nutritional needs by supplementing their food purchasing power with a monthly benefit allotment based on the number of people in the house hold and how much money is left after countable expenses are subtracted. Families must meet the program's eligibility rules. Food assistance benefits may only be used to purchase groceries; they may not be used to purchase household items such as cleaning supplies, grooming items, tobacco, or alcoholic beverages.
    • SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) is jointly administered by DCF and the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). Florida's SNAP E&T program is designed to assist Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) gain skills, training, and/or work experience that will increase their ability to obtain regular employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency. ABAWDs are required to meet federal work requirements in order to maintain Food Assistance eligibility. DCF determines ABAWD status and refers these recipients to DEO for engagement. SNAP E&T participants complete an initial orientation, assessment, and interview with DEO and are then assigned to an E&T activity. SNAP E&T activities include job search, education, vocational training, and work experience. Services are provided by local Career Source centers across the state.
    • Non-Relative Caregiver/Relative Program provides monthly cash assistance to non-relatives/relatives who have custody of a non-related/related child under age 18, who has been adjudicated dependent by court order, a home study has been completed and filed with the court, and the caregiver is unable to financially care for the child without the assistance. The monthly cash assistance amount for the non-relative caregiver is higher than a Temporary Cash Assistance grant for one child, but less than the amount paid for a child in the foster care program.
    • Optional State Supplementation/Personal Needs Allowance (OSS/PNA)is a state-funded public assistance program that provides a monthly cash payment to indigent elderly or disabled individuals who live in special non-institutional, residential living facilities, including assisted living facilities, adult family care homes and mental health residential treatment facilities. To qualify for OSS/PNA, an individual must need assistance with the activities of daily living due to physical and/or mental conditions.
    • Medicaid provides medical coverage to low income individuals and families. While eligibility for Medicaid is determined by ACCESS, services and payment for services are administered by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). ACCESS determines Medicaid eligibility for families with children; children only; pregnant women; non-citizens with medical emergencies; and aged and/or disabled individuals not currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
    • The Customer Call Center serves Florida families who are making general inquiries, seeking information, or need to file their benefit applications. There are three customer call center sites located in Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa; however, each site provides support statewide through voice and online live chat. An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System and chatbot technology provide callers with the most recent information related to their case.
  • The Homelessness Program coordinates the resources of various state agencies and programs to serve individuals or families who are homeless based on certain criteria found in 24 CFR 576.2. The program contracts with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-designated Continuum of Care (CoC) lead agencies. Twenty-seven CoC's provide services that fall into the following categories.
    • Street Outreach reaches out to unsheltered homeless people, connects them with emergency shelter or housing, and provides urgent, non-facility-based care to those unwilling or unable to access emergency shelter or housing.
    • Emergency Shelter serves homeless families or individuals in emergency shelters, renovates buildings to be used as emergency shelters, and may cover costs of operations, rent, security, fuel, equipment, insurance, utilities, food, furnishings, supplies, or hotel/motel vouchers.
    • Homelessness Prevention funds may be used to provide housing relocation and stabilization services and short/medium term rental assistance to prevent the need for emergency shelter.
    • Rapid Rehousing provides housing relocation and stabilization services, and short/medium term rental assistance to help a homeless individual or family into more permanent housing.
     
  • Refugee Services aids refugees to promote economic self-sufficiency and successful integration into American society in the shortest time after arrival to the U.S. Financial and medical assistance is limited to individuals meeting specific non-citizen criteria not eligible for Florida's Temporary Cash Assistance and Medicaid programs, but meeting the same income eligibility criteria, and is limited to a maximum of eight months. The refugee program is 100% federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement. DCF enters into contractual agreements with various organizations, typically not for profit community-based organizations and local governments, to assist refugees in obtaining employment, learning English, and integrating into Florida's communities.

How many Florida citizens are served by this program?

For Fiscal Year 2020-21, the number of Florida citizens who received services as a result of the program's eligibility determination efforts is shown below. 

Average Number of Clients Served and Benefits Issued Per Month in Fiscal Year 2020-21
Category Clients Served Per Month Benefits Issued Per Month
Received Benefits to Purchase Food 3,561,924$705,163,647
Determined Eligible for Medicaid1 3,772,006 NA
Received Cash Assistance 75,474$10,920,925
1 Excludes SSI eligible persons.
Source: Department of Children and Families.

 

How are these activities funded?

The program is funded as part of the Economic Self-Sufficiency Program budget entity.

Fiscal Year: 2022-23
Fund Dollars Positions
PROGRAM: ECONOMIC SELF SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM
ECONOMIC SELF SUFFICIENCY SERVICES
969,056,125
4,241.00
TOTAL
969,056,125
4,241.00

Updates

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Issued Statewide. Together, the Economic Self-Sufficiency Program and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued 1.2 million Florida students $763 million in P-EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year. P-EBT is a supplemental benefit for households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures. 

Public Records/Homelessness Counts and Information Systems. The 2022 Legislature enacted Ch. 2022-33, Laws of Florida, which provides exemption from public records requirements for individual identifying information contained in homelessness counts and information systems.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
The Auditor General reports on department operations are located on its website.

The Department of Children and Families' Office of the Inspector General reports are available on its website.

The Department of Children and Families' Office on Homelessness publishes the Council on Homelessness' annual reports on its website.

Experts' Proposed Reform Options to Better Serve Workers Experiencing Economic Disruption, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-21-324, April 19, 2021.

Use of Data to Verify Eligibility Varies Among Selected Programs and Opportunities Exist to Promote Additional Use, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-21-183, March 29, 2021.

Data Completeness and Accuracy Have Improved, Though Not All Standards Have Been Met, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-21-196, January 14, 2021.

Access and Quality Problems in Managed Care Demand Improved Oversight, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-21-49, December 16, 2020.

CMS Needs More Information on States' Financing and Payment Arrangements to Improve Oversight, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-21-98, December 7, 2020.

Millions of Full-Time Workers Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-21-45, November 18, 2020.

Better HUD Oversight of Data Collection Could Improve Estimates of Homeless Population, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-20-433, August 13, 2020.

Actions Needed to Better Address Workers' Needs and Assess Program Effectiveness, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-20-521, July 29, 2020.

State Views on Program Administration Challenges, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-20-407, June 1, 2020.

Poverty Reduction: HHS Can Improve Information to Assist States and Localities in Adopting Approaches That Serve Whole Families, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-20-382, May 7, 2020.

Websites of Interest
Department of Children and Families, Local Community Partners Agencies
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance, Resource Library
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Nutrition Policy Research
Florida Coalition to End Homelessness 
National Alliance to End Homelessness
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

 

Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan and Planning and Performance Measures, which reports the department's performance on external and internal measures for its various programs. The measures allow the user to view performance at both a statewide and geographic region level.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapters 402414, 420, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

ACCESS Customer Call Center, 850-300-4323
Website

Office on Homelessness, 850-922-4691
Website

Refugee Assistance
Tallahassee Headquarters, 850-488-3791
DCF ACCESS, 850-300-4323
Website

Hope Florida - A Pathway to Prosperity, 850-300-HOPE
Website