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Diversion Cash Assistance

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA) is an emergency grant to a family facing a temporary financial crisis. #7121EN


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What is Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA)?) – WAC 388-432-0005

You can use this emergency grant during a temporary financial crisis.  

What emergency needs does DCA cover?

It can cover many needs, such as:

  • help with transportation, such as car repairs

  • childcare

  • medical

  • housing

  • food expenses

How much DCA can I get?

You can get up to $1,250 in any twelve-month period. You might get less.  

Why would I want DCA?

If one of these is true:

  • You have a one-time or emergency need.

  • You will have regular income soon, such as pay from a job starting soon.

Can I get DCA?

Yes, if you are eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or State Family Assistance (SFA).  Your family must choose between TANF or SFA and DCA. You cannot get both at once.

You can get this help if DSHS can reasonably expect the DCA grant to keep you from needing TANF.

I used to get TANF. I lost it because of a sanction. Can I get DCA?

No. You cannot get DCA if your TANF stopped because of a Workfirst sanction or you did not provide DSHS needed info to collect child support from the other parent.

How do I apply for DCA?

You have these rights:

  • To apply in writing at a DSHS office for Diversion Cash Assistance

  • To a decision in writing

Are there reasons NOT to apply for DCA?

Yes. Do not apply if you believe you may have to apply for TANF within the next year.

  • You will have to pay back part of your DCA grant.

  • You will get much more through TANF in a year than you would through a one-time DCA award.

Example:  Your family of three chose to get $1,250 in DCA. Nine months later, you apply for TANF. You will have to repay $312.  If you had chosen to get TANF instead, you could have gotten $569 a month for the entire year, for a total of $6,828.

We got a DCA grant. We applied for TANF less than a year later. What will DSHS do?

DSHS will reduce the grant by 5%. DSHS will not collect the repayment if you go off assistance.

Are there other programs for emergency assistance?


Additional Requirements (AR) is extra emergency money for families already getting or eligible to get TANF.

CEAP - if you are not eligible for TANF or other ongoing cash assistance.  

Additional Requirements and CEAP (Extra Money for Needy Families) have more info. Get them from WashingtonLawHelp.org or by calling CLEAR.

Can I get other benefits while getting DCA?

Maybe.  While applying for DCA, you can also ask for: 

  • food stamps

  • medical assistance

  • child care assistance

How can I find out what kind of medical coverage my family and I are eligible for? 

Online:  You can apply at wahealthplanfinder.org.

Phone or other ways: If you have no internet access or have trouble with the online application, ask at the DSHS office or call the hotline.  The number is 1-855-923-4633 (1-855-WAFINDER). They can help you find an In-Person Assister—someone in your community trained to help you with the application process free.

DSHS denied our application. What can we do?

Ask DSHS to put the denial in writing.  To fight it, fill out an administrative hearing request at your local DSHS office, or write the Office of Administrative Hearings, P.O. Box 42489, Olympia, WA 98504.  If it is an emergency, call the Office of Administrative Hearings at (360) 664-8717 or 1-800-583-8271.  Ask them to hold your hearing as soon as possible (an “expedited” hearing).

You should also get legal advice: 

*If you have a low income and live outside King County, call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014, weekdays 9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

*If you live in King County, call the King County Bar Association’s Neighborhood Legal Clinics at (206) 267-7070, 9:00 a.m. - noon, Monday – Thursday, to schedule a free half-hour of legal advice.


This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of February 2019.

© 2019 Northwest Justice Project. 1-888-201-1014.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and individuals for non-commercial use only.)


Last Review and Update: Feb 21, 2019