“Public assistance programs help struggling families like my family, who don't make a ton of money, to get access to things like fresh fruits and vegetables and child care, so we can work.”

Location: Fresno County

Cassie (22) became familiar with public assistance programs at a young age. She grew up in a single parent household in Stockton, California. On a limited income, her mom just made things work—stretching spaghetti dinners to last all week. 

By the time she was 10, her family received food stamps and Medi-Cal. Familiar with public service programs, she knew they were there to support families during times of need. 

After graduating high school, pregnant with her first son, Jayden, Cassie and her husband moved to Fresno County. Both are college students—and Cassie also works full time at McDonalds. Her husband is a part-time tutor. 

Their earned income is not enough to cover all their family’s living expenses and the needs of their young children, one-year-old Kelvin and Jayden, now three. The majority of their income goes to rent, bills, and transportation. They use public assistance programs to cover their other expenses, such as food, health care, and child care. 

Cassie has a chronic illness that requires ongoing expensive treatment and she is thankful for Medi-Cal because it allows her to care for her children, to help them grow and become good people.

Get to know Cassie

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“It’s a difficult time right now, but we’re trying our best—and trying to make sure our kids are both happy.”

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Cassie talks about the challenges of being a young mom: “It can make you feel like you aren’t good enough.”

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Cassie’s first experience with public services was as a child. Her mom was a single mother who worked hard for her family.


Feelings about having to use and using services


Cassie reflects on her experience and shares what could have been more helpful as a teen parent. “I would have liked to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”

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Cassie shares about the judgement and shaming she experienced as a teen parent. 

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Cassie shares her dreams for her two boys.


Public service eligibility

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Accessing subsidized child care meant a long wait for Cassie’s family, but it makes all the difference.


Using public services


Cassie talks about her negative experience with doctors while on Medi-Cal.

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Cassie shares how welcoming the WIC program was to her as a new mother.

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Prenatal Care Program

Cassie’s group prenatal care program, part of First 5 Fresno County, gave her a community through the pain and joy of pregnancy.

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Ideas for Change

Cassie would improve technology and give more families access to online tools to help them apply for services.