Once you are released from custody, you will need a source of income until you can find a job (see the Finding a Job page).

FYI: The DOC does not provide any “gate money,” except for the money you may have in your inmate account. if it is possible to save any money before you are released, you should try to do so.

Based on need, Parole can give up to $300.00 in emergency funds, but it is at their discretion. Ask your parole officer about this.

You may be eligible to get some sort of public assistance (welfare), not everyone qualifies for this. Listed below are some basics on seeking and applying for benefits.

General Assistance (WFNJ-GA) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (WFNJ-TANF) provide cash benefits, GA for single people and TANF for people who have custody of their children. Both programs will require you to work or actively look for work, and both have a five-year lifetime limit. Work First New Jersey also has an Emergency Assistance program that you may qualify for if you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless: it can pay for things like food, clothing, and transportation costs to look for housing, but also for utility payments and temporary rental or mortgage payment assistance. You may be able to meet with the P.R.E.P.A.R.E. social worker at your institution and complete a WFNJ-GA application prior to release. You can contact your social worker for more information.

Visit to use the online screening tool for food stamps, general assistance and other services.

WFNJ-GA and WFNJ-TANF Application sites in Mercer County:

Mercer County Board of Social Services

200 Woolverton Street
P.O. Box 1450
Trenton, NJ 08650

Phone: (609) 989-4320 or 1(800) 564-1595
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm; Tuesday, 8:30 am – 8:30 pm


Food Stamps

You may apply for food stamp while applying for GA/TANF. If you were convicted after August 22, 1996, of a drug distribution or sales offense, you may still be able to get Food Stamps if you have completed or are enrolled in a licensed drug treatment program, or completed a program in prison and are drug free (you will be tested). Same goes for possession offenses. Please contact the welfare office in Mercer County to inquire.

Other Benefit Programs: You may be eligible for other cash benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits (if you are seriously disabled and cannot work) call 1(800) 772-1213 and the Women’s, Infants, Children (WIC) program, which gives food vouchers to low-income parents. You can inquire about WIC at the city and county welfare offices.