We provide benefits and services to sustain families and individuals and assist them to achieve independence.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are presently conducting as much business as possible by telephone and videoconference.
If you need help and don't already have an appointment, please review the program descriptions below and use the contact information provided for the one that best fits your needs.
NEW! Information about Kinship Care
When a child is unable to continue living with their family of origin, members of the extended family or even family friends are sometimes able and willing to become their primary caregivers. These arrangements are often more successful than those in which kids are placed in the care of persons whom they don't know.
For more information about non-parent caregiver placements and the financial and other supports for them that are available through the Department of Social Services, please visit our Kinship Care page.
NEW! Mobile Document Uploads
We are pleased to announce that a free State-sponsored mobile device app call NYDocSubmit is now available for use by applicants for and recipients of certain benefits programs to submit photos of their documents rather than coming to the Department in person to submit hardcopies. (Persons who can't download the app to their own device can permit others who have done so to upload their documents for them.)
For more information, please open the PDF documents in the following links:
Financial and Emergency Assistance
Cash & Emergency Assistance - 274-5345
Appointments - 274-5348
Cash Assistance programs provide financial help to families and individuals as well as some emergency assistance. Income eligibility standards and benefit levels vary depending on the household situation.
Housing Assistance - 274-5644
Domestic Violence - 274-5293
Food Assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE for SNAP Households
All New Yorkers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program previously received the maximum monthly benefit for March and April in the form of a one-time payment. Maximum monthly benefit payments will be issued again in May.
For more information, visit https://otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19
Previously known as Food Stamps, the Federal SNAP program provides low-income households monthly benefits to purchase food. Income and resource standards vary according to age, health, household size and household expenditures.
You or your authorized representative can apply for SNAP either online at https://mybenefits.ny.gov/mybenefits/begin or by completing a New York State-prescribed form manually and mailing it to or dropping it off at the Department of Social Services.
The following links contain important information:
For more information -- including how to file a complaint if you feel that you've been discriminated against -- click here for the SNAP page on New York State's Office of Family and Disability Assistance website.
Medicaid Programs - Information - 274-5244
New York State of Health - 1-855-355-5777 or https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov
Medicaid Transportation - 1-866-753-4543
Medicaid Managed Care - 274-5245
Medicaid is an income-based assistance program for the medically indigent. Income and resource standards vary depending on age, health, household size, and certain household expenditures. Depending on the type of medical services sought, some applicants will not need to provide resource information; or they may be able to provide written attestation of their household’s resources. Medicaid coverage ranges from skilled nursing home care to routine medical care. Medicaid may pay for health insurance premiums including Medicare. Partial Medicaid coverage is available in some situations.
Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
This Federal program helps low-income households meet the high costs of home energy. Income and resource eligibility standards, as well as available funding, change from year to year. For more information, see our dedicated web page for this program (http://tompkinscountyny.gov/dss/HEAP), or access one of the following New York State websites:
Day Care Payment Assistance
Provider Registration, Inspections, and Complaints – 273-0259 (Child Development Council of Central New York)
Eligibility and Billing - 274-5612
Subsidized day care for children of low-income families or who have been placed with working foster parents.
If you are a client of the Department of Social Services, please contact your case manager for assistance. If you're unable to reach him or her, Information and Referral is staffed 24 hours a day and can be reached either by dialing 211 or at this website.
Other transportation-related links which may be useful:
Child Support Services
Child Support Unit - 1-888-208-4485
Assists custodial parents in the establishment of paternity for children born out of wedlock; works to establish court orders regarding child support responsibilities of non-custodial parents; enforces child support orders through collection methods which may include income executions against absent parents' wages and unemployment benefits and seizure of income tax refunds and lottery winnings; receives and disburses child support payments.
Child Abuse Emergency Number
1-800-342-3720 (NYS Hotline. Toll-free, 24 hours/day)
Child Protective Services
CPS responds to reports of child abuse and maltreatment with an assessment or investigation and provides protective/preventive services to families and children.
Catholic Charities' Community Connections program (272-5062 extension 28) provides help & support for parents going through the CPS process and or who have had their children placed in foster care.
Foster Care Homefinding, Adoption & Post Adoption Services
Foster Homefinding – 274-5266
Adoption/Post Adoption Services – 274-5615 & 274-5309.
Foster Care Services Unit provides recruitment and retention of qualified, caring families who are willing to provide temporary foster care and work with families toward reunification. Available for our certified foster families when children cannot return to their parents. Information, referral, and clinical support provided
Youth and Family Services
Temporary placement in foster homes, group homes, or institutions for children who temporarily cannot live at home. Provides preventive services to families, and court diversion services for youth.
Adult Protective Services
Investigates reports of abuse/neglect of adults, provides financial management, case management, and legal interventions necessary for the protection of at-risk adults.
Long Term Care Services
Tompkins Care Connection provides information and referral about long term care and other services such as home delivered meals, respite, and home health care.
The program also provides in-home assessments, in-home aide service, and PRI (Patient Review Instrument) assessments to determine the level of care and type of skilled nursing facility most appropriate for the individual.