Cash assistance program in North Carolina.

Households with children may be eligible for the cash assistance program in North Carolina, which is known as Work First. It is the local version of TANF welfare, and the benefit includes job training, personal responsibility, as well as cash for paying bills, housing, basic needs, and much more.

North Carolina using federal government grants to offer this form of financial support. Applications are provided and processed by local DSS offices (Departments of Social Services) as well as the Employment Security Commission (ESC). Both government agencies partner together in calculating the amount of the monthly payment (which averages around $300 but depends on family size), they address personal responsibility, and approve what bills and household’s expenses can be paid by North Carolina Work First.

Cash can cover many household needs though. Typical uses of the money is for:

  • -Shelter costs – This may be rent or deposits for utilities or deposits, moving expenses, heating or electric bills, and more.
  • -North Carolina Work First Cash Assistance can pay for household goods, including cleaning supplies, detergent, critical furniture, and more.
  • -All applicants are required to address employment needs, so the state will allow funds for work uniforms, gasoline or car repairs, and work-related expenses.
  • -Food for the children can be bought and may North Carolina residents be also enrolled into other welfare benefits including SNAP food stamps.

As noted, DSS partners with Workforce centers and employment offices. As all families need to address employment as well as personal responsibility issues. This is because the government TANF welfare program in North Carolina will only provide help for at most 60 months throughout the client’s lifetime. So, the client needs to stabilize their situation. This is where the Employment Security Commission (ESC) comes into play.





Work First recipients also need to enroll into the First Stop Employment Assistance Program. As the parent needs to either (1) get a job (2) be seeking employment or (3) in training. All of this will be verified on an ongoing basis. For those that do this, the state may even help pay for any day or child care expenses they have. This is in addition to the other rent and supplies that are covered by cash assistance.

Note there is also an emergency Work First option. This is a one time, expedited cash program. State funds can be accelerated so up to 3 months of payments are issued on a debit card or transferred to a bank account. The program is known as Benefit Diversion, and it combines health care/Medicaid and emergency financial aid to stop keep power on, stop evictions or find the family. As typical, employment is also mandatory.

Applications to cash assistance and WorkFirst

Call or stop by a local Departments of Social Services center. The staff have calculators to determine the monthly payment. Note all applicants need to have a child living at home, but the aid is also for single mothers or dads too. The income requirement is also a maximum of 200% below federal government poverty guidelines, adjusted for family size.

DSS centers are located in every county in North Carolina. For a location near you, call 1-800-662-7030. Also, in addition to applying for help from cash assistance, low income families should also apply for other assistance ranging from Medicaid to disability (if applicable), food stamps, or anything else they are qualified for.



By Jon McNamara

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