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Shawnda O'Brien, Director of Public Assistance
Shawnda O'Brien


Division Overview

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Program Highlights


For non-clinical questions related to the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact 2-1-1.
Alaska 2-1-1: Get connected. Get answers.

Division of Public Assistance

Public assistance promotes self-sufficiency and provides basic living expenses to Alaskans in need. Read more…

Our programs help with:

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

DHSS is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. Learn more about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Accessing our services

Our division is working diligently to provide the highest level of service possible during this difficult time. We continue to offer supports and flexibility in our service delivery through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While our offices are not currently offering full service in-person, our lobbies are open to pick up and drop off information and applications. We continue to improve services through our website, and by mail, phone, email, and our Virtual Contact Center.

News & Updates

April 2, 2021 - Virtual Contact Center is Live
Our Virtual Contact Center (VCC) is accepting calls at 800-478-7778. This line supports all requests for all offices except Long Term Care.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Update
The division is working as quickly as possible to issue the remaining Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) supplements from the spring and preparing to issue supplements for the current school year. The division is coordinating with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to implement Food and Nutrition Service guidance released on the November 16. Applications and information will be available to serve recipients and school districts. Please continue checking our website for updates. For more about P-EBT, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) page. Thank you for your patience.
Heating Assistance
The division is processing Heating Assistance applications statewide. People who want to apply can contact our Virtual Call Center at 800-478-7778 or email for help. Once an application is received, the division will send notice. The notice includes an ID number and contact information for our automated hotline to check the status of an application.

Social distancing options when paying for groceries with SNAP benefits during COVID-19
Although Alaska vendors are not currently able to accept SNAP EBT as a method of online payment, there are several options that would allow for a retailer to continue to get food to its SNAP clients in light of the social distancing recommendations related to COVID-19.

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