What We Do

The Office of Community Services (OCS) partners with states, communities, and agencies to reduce the causes of poverty, increase opportunity and economic security of individuals and families, and revitalize communities. Our social service and community development programs work in a variety of ways to improve the lives of many.

Major Goals

OCS’s main goals are to:

  • Serve the economic and social needs of individuals and families with low-incomes;
  • Provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities;
  • Promote individual economic opportunity and security through the creation of full-time, permanent jobs;
  • Support asset building strategies for individuals and families with low-incomes, such as savings, increasing financial capability, and securing assets;
  • Assist community development corporations in utilizing existing funding for neighborhood revitalization projects;
  • Provide financial and technical resources to state, local, and public and private agencies for economic development and related social service activities; and
  • Provide energy assistance to households with low-incomes.


The Office of Community Services (OCS) administers five social service and community development programs. In 2019, this totaled about $6 billion in funding.

  • Community Economic Development
    Community Economic Development (CED) discretionary grants are awarded to nonprofit community development corporations in disinvested communities for purposes of creating new jobs for individuals with low-income, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients.
  • Community Services Block Grant
    The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) supports services designed to ameliorate the causes and conditions of poverty by assisting individuals and families with low-incomes and communities with services based on local needs (i.e. employment, education, and adequate housing).
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
    The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funds to states, tribes and tribal organizations, and territories to assist households with low-incomes in meeting their home energy costs.
  • Low Income Household Water Assistance Program
    The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) provides funds to assist low-income households with water and wastewater bills. LIHWAP grants are available to States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, and Federally and state-recognized Indian Tribes and tribal organizations that received fiscal year 2021 Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grants.
  • Rural Community Development
    The Rural Community Development (RCD) provides discretionary grants to assist low-income communities in developing affordable and safe water and wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Social Services Block Grant
    The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) provides funding to states to increase economic self-sufficiency, prevent or address neglect, abuse, or the exploitation of children and adults, prevent or reduce inappropriate institutionalization, and secure referrals for institutional care, where appropriate.
  • Assets for Independence*
    The Assets for Independence (AFI) program is demonstrating and testing the effectiveness of matched savings accounts (Individual Development Accounts or IDAs) as a tool for enabling individuals and families with low-incomes and to become economically self-sufficient.

*No funds were appropriated for the AFI program for fiscal year (FY) 2017. ACF has not made new grant awards for the AFI program since FY 2016. Organizations operating AFI projects funded in FY 2016 and prior are responsible for continuing to operate those projects through the end of the grant award project period.

Current as of: