Work First Family Assistance


North Carolina 's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, called Work First, is based on the premise that parents have a responsibility to support themselves and their children. Through Work First, parents can get short-term training and other services to help them become employed and self-sufficient .

Work First emphasizes three strategies:

  1. Diversion: Qualifying families can get a one-time payment equivalent to up to three months worth of cash Work First benefits, based on a needs assessment by the county worker, Medicaid, child care and Food and Nutrition Services, if eligible, and other supportive services.
  2. Employment: To receive Work First Family Assistance benefits, parents must register with the First Stop Employment Assistance Program, sign a Mutual Responsibility Agreement (MRA) and, once they move into the work components of the program, they can continue to receive benefits for up to 24 months. In most cases, families who have reached the 24-month limit cannot receive Work First Family Assistance for three years.
  3. Retention: Work First increased limits on savings and vehicles, and the state legislature raised income eligibility limits for subsidized child care to ease the burden on low-income, working families. To help families stay employed, counties are also providing services, such as transportation, to families whose income is at or below 200 percent of poverty. 

Learn More and Apply

To learn more about Work First and the services provided, please call or visit any DSS location. Additional information about Work First Employment Services can be found here.