Employment and Training
for SNAP Recipients
If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, you can volunteer to participate in employment and training programs that can help you get back to school or guide you on your career pathway. On this page, learn more about the programs that can help you succeed — how you might be able to get help paying for child care, transportation costs, and more, as well as steps you can take to succeed in your program. Your county assistance office (CAO) caseworker and your employment and training case manager can give you more information.
If you receive SNAP, you may be able to volunteer to go to one of these programs. Programs are offered in select counties. Talk to your caseworker about what is available for you and for more information.
For you if:
- You only get SNAP benefits and want to get hands-on learning experiences in skilled job fields
- Local community-based organizations offering work experience and skills training
- Work in fields with a living wage
- Ability to learn new skills and build work history while getting SNAP
- Some providers focus on helping people on SNAP with a criminal history or probation/parole
Can help you:
- Get and keep skilled employment that allows you to support yourself and your family
KEYS (Keystone Education Yields Success)
For you if:
- You are already going to a PA community college and meet certain additional requirements
- You are interested in attending a PA community college and meet certain additional requirements
- Help with the college system, including financial aid and career exploration
- Supports to help students succeed
- Class and some study time are counted activities toward hourly requirements for ABAWDs
- Peer groups that link KEYS students for support
Can help you:
- Graduate from college with your degree or certificate and start your career
SNAP EARN (or CAO-directed)
For you if:
- You are interested in an employment and training program that can include adult education or other independent training programs.
- You want to get your GED.
- Support to go to self-initiated education/training at a college or certain career and technical schools.
- Connections with other agencies, adult education programs, and community service.
- The opportunity to complete an active job search for up to 60 days in a 12-month period,
- In some counties, a SNAP Work Ready contractor provides additional case management services.
Can help you:
- Use your time to find employment or adult education opportunities to help support yourself and your family
Participation in an employment and training program is voluntary for those receiving SNAP. If you are a healthy adult who is not living with children, you could be subject to special time limits that allow a person to get only three months of SNAP benefits unless they are working or are enrolled in an employment and training program. Your caseworker will let you know if these rules apply to you.
If you volunteer to participate, you must participate for a certain number of hours every month in certain activities to stay in the program. The number of hours needed varies depending on your situation and whether special time limits apply to you. Your caseworker will go over how many hours you will need to participate, and your case manager will go over what specific activities are available for you.
If you are planning to start a training program or go to school on your own, please let your caseworker know as soon as possible – the best time to do so is at least a couple of weeks before your first day. This will help your caseworker make sure you get credit for going to the program and ensure that you get the most help possible paying for the things you need, such as child care and transportation.
Your caseworker will then refer you to a provider who will work with you to make a service plan for how you can succeed in employment and training. There are many ways you can fulfill your hourly requirements at your program.
Activities can include (but are not limited to):
- Job search
- Job readiness and preparation
- English as a Second Language (ESL) education
- Adult basic education
- GED/high school diploma preparation
- Vocational training (all vocational education activities need to be discussed with your caseworker and your case manager before starting, due to time limits on this activity)
- Enrollment in a KEYS program institution
- Community service
What are special allowances?
A special allowance is money for things you need to participate in your employment and training program. Your caseworker will help you figure out what types of special allowances you are able to receive. Special allowances are always given in advance so that you can pay for what you need upfront. Once you receive a special allowance, you must buy only the item(s) your allowance was intended for AND provide your caseworker with the original receipt within 14 days.You may be able to get special allowances for different things, including:
If you need child care while you attend your employment and training program or other required activity, you can receive free or reduced child care. Your caseworker will refer you to your local Early Learning Resource Center for assistance in setting up your child care. Visit the Find Child Care online search tool to look for child care providers and for more information.
You will be asked to set up child care by your program start date so that you can begin your program on time. If you have trouble getting child care arranged by your program start date, contact your caseworker. They can give you more time and change your program start date if necessary.
If you get a job while going to the program, you also may be able to continue receiving reduced-cost child care as a former SNAP recipient. Any out-of-pocket child care costs can also be considered when determining how much SNAP your family receives. This structure was designed to help you keep your job, advance your career, and achieve economic security for your family.
If you need help getting to your employment and training program, there are several transportation options that may be covered for you, such as:
- Bus pass
- Taxi fare
- Gas money for yourself or your volunteer driver
- Car repair
Education and Training
If you are in school, there are special allowances that can help you pay for education-related expenses. Special allowances are not available for tuition but can be available for things like:
- Certain school supplies
- If you need help buying clothes for an interview, training, or a new job, you may be able to get a special allowance for appropriate clothing.
Do I have to repay the county assistance office for my special allowance?
Special allowances are not loans and do not need to be repaid as long as they are spent correctly and documentation is provided. The only times you would have to pay back part or all of your special allowances are when:
- You do not provide the receipt to the county assistance office;
- The special allowance money is used on something other than what the allowance was issued for
- You do not participate in your program for the amount of time the allowance was issued to cover
- There is more than $10 of the special allowance left after buying the intended item
Note: You may not be eligible for all types of special allowances. Special allowances are issued based on the most reasonable, cost-effective option for you and your situation. Additionally, there are limits to how much can be paid for items and how often you can receive certain allowances. Your caseworker can help you figure out what special allowances are best suited for you.