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


Division Overview

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Program Highlights


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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

  • Need health coverage? See if you qualify for Alaska Medicaid or other health plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Medicaid enrollment is always available, but open enrollment for marketplace plans ends Dec. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1. Visit to apply for Medicaid, or shop, compare, and enroll in a 2022 health plan. If you already have Medicaid there is no need to reenroll unless you move out of state.

  • New!November 12, 2021:
    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments

    The division received approval from the federal Food and Nutrition Service to distribute October and November emergency allotments (EA) for SNAP recipients. Approval of SNAP EA is based on a public health emergency declaration by the secretary of Health and Human Services and a state-issued emergency or disaster declaration. EA helps households meet temporary food needs during the public health emergency by providing the maximum monthly benefit for their household size and allows all households to receive at least $95 monthly in EA.

    The division will process October and November benefits for eligible households during November. Due to the complexity and manual work involved in processing EA, it is likely that benefits will not be fully processed for these months until December.

    SNAP recipients can contact our Virtual Contact Center at 1-800-478-7778 with any questions about the EA or status of their case.

  • July 28, 2021: Long Term Care now available through the Virtual Call Center (VCC)

    Long Term Care callers can now use the Virtual Contact Center line 1-800-478-7778 to connect with a caseworker.

  • When calling the VCC callers will be able to:
    1. enter their assigned caseworker’s extension to transfer directly, or
    2. wait for a staff member to transfer to the caseworker or a Long Term Care supervisor if there is no assigned caseworker
  • June 17, 2021: Receiving an error when you swipe your P-EBT card? Call 888-997-8111 or 800-478-7778 or Email us at

    The latest mailing of Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) cards to families included cards with unreadable magnetic stripes. Although families can access benefits if the retailer uses information on the card, it will be easier to use the card by swiping the card. Families can contact customer service using information on the back of the card, or contact our Virtual Contact Center or email our offices to request a replacement card. We apologize for this inconvenience. For more information P-EBT, please see our frequently asked questions page.

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