SNAP Eligibility Implementation Toolkit

On April 21, 2022, the Administration for Children and Families released an Information Memorandum (IM) clarifying the definition of “public assistance” in the Head Start Act to include receipt or eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This IM, effective immediately, simplifies the eligibility and enrollment processes for Head Start programs and requires significant changes to policy and practice.

NHSA has designed this toolkit to support implementation of the SNAP eligibility change in your program. In subsequent pages, you will find checklists, sample policies, and other additional resources to support your efforts.

The Connection Between Head Start and SNAP

The connection between Head Start eligibility and SNAP was born out of President Biden’s “Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government”. The Executive Order focused on simplifying and streamlining processes in order to improve efficiency internally and with the public. The majority of households with young children who receive SNAP benefits have incomes below 100% of the Federal Poverty Line, which means they would also qualify for Head Start. Prior to the IM, families needed to go through eligibility and enrollment processes for both Head Start and SNAP programs separately. Simplifying the process helps families more easily apply to Head Start if they are already enrolled in the SNAP program.

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and households. Individuals receive a monthly benefit via an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. When a participant shops at a SNAP authorized retail store, their SNAP EBT account is debited to reimburse the store for food that was purchased. Households apply for SNAP by completing an application and providing information about their finances and other circumstances.












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