Resources for Low Income Families in WA


Understanding Income Definitions

First Steps and other Medical Insurance

Family Planning

WIC (Nutrition Program)

Child Care Assistance


Understanding Income Definitions

Definitions of low income range from program to program. But all are based on the federal poverty guidelines which change each year. The full chart can be found here.

Guidelines are based on household size. If you are a single person, you’re a household of one. If you are pregnant, that counts as two people (pregnant with twins counts as three people). If you are a pregnant person with a partner, you have a household size of three.

Poverty threshold for 2004 (through about February of 2005)


Household Size

Annual income (before taxes)

Monthly income (before tax)














Many programs actually base eligibility on a number higher than the poverty limit. Here’s the chart for that, so you can check your income against the guidelines in the program below.


Household Size

185% of FPL

200% of FPL


23,106.50 per year









Medical Insurance

First Steps

·         What it provides:

·         Eligibility: Pregnant women. (Even undocumented residents may qualify) Income less than 185% FPL.

·         How to apply: You can apply for First Steps by visiting your local Community Service Office (CSO). You can also call 1-800-322-2588 for more information

In addition to First Steps, there are two other programs which may cover your health care if you can’t receive First Steps services.

CN: Categorically Needy Medical Program (medical coupons) Eligibility: Pregnant women, below 185% of poverty line. These funds provide continued medical coverage for 60 days after the month in which pregnancy ends (e.g., pregnancy ends June 10, medical benefits continue through August 31). Details.

MN: Medically Needy Program. Eligibility: A medicaid program for women whose income or resources are above the CN level. Requires that they spend down excess income or resources before medical care is covered. Details.


Take Charge program: Birth Control

·         What it provides:  free annual exam, family planning education, and free contraceptives, including birth control pills, depo-provera, IUD, condoms, foam, patch, vaginal ring, diaphragm, cervical cap, emergency contraception, vasectomy, and tubal ligation.

·         Eligibility: Men or women. Washington residents (citizen or green card) whose family income is at or below 200% of FPL and who do not have health insurance or whose current insurance does not cover family planning.

·         How to get it: applications are available at clinics which provide services. For a list of providers by area call the toll-free Family Planning Hot Line at 1-800-770-4334.  To see the full listing:


WIC (Women, Infant, and Children’s) Nutrition Program

·         What it provides: Health screening, nutrition and health education, breastfeeding support, checks to buy nutritious foods, and help getting other services.

·         Eligibility: Live in Washington. Are pregnant, a new mother, or a child under 5 years of age, have an income of less than 185% of the poverty line, and have a medical or nutritional need.

·         How to apply: click here to find out.


Financial Assistance for Child Care

·    Working Connections Child Care Program

o       What it provides: helps to pay for child care services. Can pay for child care centers, home day cares, a relative to come to your home to care for your child, or other adults who come to your home to provide care.

o       Eligibility: Parents who are working, but have a household income less than 200% FPL. Your co-payment (cost of child care) is based on a sliding scale, where you pay a portion of the total costs.

o       Sliding scale example: a three-person household with countable monthly income of $995 would have a $15 co-pay. If the same household had countable income of $1,675 they would have a $50 co-pay. A three-person household with countable income of $2,000 would have a co-pay of $160.

o       To apply: Call or come in to your local Community Services Office. Apply for services as soon as you know you will need them. You can also apply online using our Online Application for Services.

o       More info:

·    Comprehensive Child Care Program – A similar program for residents of the city of Seattle. You may be eligible for at least some assistance even if you make up to $47,000 a year for a family of 3. (206) 386-1050.


Tool for calculating trial eligibility for various programs:


Compiled by Janelle Durham, November 2004.