Highlights Children's Benefit Programs
According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation there are over 13 million American children living in poverty, and this number is climbing. With winter months upon us parents may be struggling to make ends meet and may have to make a difficult decision - heat their home or feed their children. In addition to food and shelter, parents of young children also need to focus on early childhood development. This is a crucial stage of life in terms of a child's physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. A very high proportion of learning takes place from birth to age six, so it is important that children get high quality learning experiences during this time. is spreading the word that there are many established organizations that are equipped to assist and provide long term nourishment, medical assistance and education to children in need.

Help may be a click a away. Choose from the spotlighted programs below or check Children/Dependents on the ?Browse by Category Page? to view the dozens children's nutrition, healthcare, and education benefit programs.

School Lunch and Breakfast Programs
School lunch and school breakfast programs make nutritionally balanced meals available to children as part of their regular school day. Over 95,000 schools offer low-cost or free lunches, and more than 78,000 schools offer low-cost or free breakfasts. Some schools offer snacks to children in afterschool programs. All school meals must meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA's nutrition standards.

Special Education (ages 3-21)
A free appropriate public special education is available in all States for all eligible children and youth, identified with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Services are provided, at no cost to parents, primarily through the State's public school system.

Head Start and Early Head Start
The Head Start program (for children ages 3-5) and Early Head Start program (for pregnant women, infants and toddlers) promote school readiness for children in low-income families by providing comprehensive educational, health, nutritional, and social services. Parents play a large role in the programs, both as primary educators of their children and as participants in administering the programs locally. Both programs provide pre-literacy and literacy experiences in a multi-cultural environment. Parents are also provided social services, including assistance with child care. Services are also available to migrant and seasonal farmworker families.

Special Education Preschool Grants
The Special Education Preschool Grants Program provides grants to States to assist them in providing a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities ages 3 through 5 years, and at a State's discretion, to 2-year-old children with disabilities who will reach age three during the school year.

Special Milk Program
The Special Milk Program provides low-cost or free milk to children. Over 6,000 schools, camps, and child care institutions provide half-pints of milk to children, including children in half-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs, who do not have access to USDA's meal programs.