Bridge to Benefits is an initiative by Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota to increase awareness and participation in public work support programs and federal and state tax credits to improve family economic stability and, in turn, improve child outcomes. The web-based project relies on an online screening tool that helps determine potential eligibility for an array of programs. Work support programs and tax credits were implemented by federal and state governments to help low-income workers meet basic needs. Yet, in Minnesota, thousands of eligible families are not participating in these programs or claiming the tax credits that could provide increased economic stability for their families.
The goals of Bridge to Benefits are to:
- Increase awareness and participation in public work support programs and tax credits;
- Improve economic stability and well-being of low-income families by connecting them to work support programs that help meet basic needs;
- Promote healthy child development;
- Help families navigate complicated public program enrollment processes;
- Assist service providers by forming a “network of support” to ensure families receive the help they need;
- Strengthen communities by bringing in more federal and state dollars through the increased number of families who are participating in public programs and tax credits.
What programs are included in Bridge to Benefits?
Although there are many different types of public programs, Bridge to Benefits focuses on the programs that benefit low-income, working Minnesota families. These include Medical Assistance, MinnesotaCare, the Advanced Premium Tax Credits, Child Care Assistance, Energy Assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), School Meal Program, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Working Family Credit (WFC).
Why focus on public work support programs and tax credits?
Living in poverty has devastating effects on a child’s development. Research confirms, however, that even small increases in a family’s income – as little as $370 a month – can have positive impacts on children’s cognitive, social and behavioral development outcomes. Participating in public programs puts money in the pockets of low-income families, benefiting their economic, social, and physical health.
How does Bridge to Benefits work?
The Bridge to Benefits project basically consists of two steps– 1) screening low-income families for potential eligibility in Minnesota’s work support and tax credit programs and 2) helping families complete the application process for the programs for which they appear eligible.
To see if you or someone else may be eligible for public work support programs, click on your state to use the eligibility screening tool. We will ask you a few simple questions but we will NOT ask you for information that identifies you. It's easy, confidential and free!