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Work First

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Work First Cash Assistance

Work First is a temporary financial assistance program for families. It is our goal to help the applicants/recipients become gainfully employed in as short a time as possible. A cash benefit and other services are provided to meet a client's basic needs while the client is seeking employment.

To receive cash benefits, a family must meet established criteria:
  • Have a child in your home under the age of 18
  • You or your children must be a U.S. Citizen or qualified alien.
  • Have a certain degree of kinship to the child, or have legal custody or guardianship of a child.
  • Cooperate with the Child Support Enforcement Agency.
  • Cooperate with Work First Employment Services
  • Be income and reserve eligible.

graphic representing contract

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES: North Carolina's Work First program is based on the philosophy that all people have the responsibility to their families and the community to work and provide for their children. The family and the employment coordinator develop a binding contract, Mutual Responsibility Agreement, that details their plans for getting off welfare and commits them to taking care of their family. It also provides services provided by the Work First program to help them reach their goals and obtain self-sufficiency. Each participant is required to participate in at least 35 hours per week of work, job search, training or volunteer work. Employment Services are specially designed to help families get and maintain a job. Employment Services should assist each family to accomplish the following:

  • Increase personal responsibility
  • Remove barriers to employment, such as offering assistance with childcare and transportation to assist in obtaining employment
  • Secure employment
  • Reduce long-term dependence on welfare programs  

Work First Benefit Diversion

An optional package of services that include: A one-time lump-sum payment equal to the maximum of three months of Work First Family Assistance Benefits.

 Benefit Diversion provides an opportunity for families to receive immediate help and preserve their independence from welfare.  The following family may be likely candidates for Benefit Diversion:

  • Families with a caretaker on maternity leave receiving little or no pay.  The caretaker is expected to return to the same job within a few weeks and needs help with routine household expenses.
  • A family with a caretaker who has a solid job offer following graduation.  The caretaker needs assistance between graduation and beginning employment two months later.
  • A family with a caretaker who is recently employed.  The caretaker will not get first check in time to cover, rent, utilities and child care costs.
  • A family who previously received public assistance for a short period of time.  Since then, the family has been employed and self-supporting.  The caretaker, now unemployed, has a strong prospect to return to work quickly.  He needs help with household expenses between jobs.


Work First Benefit Diversion can only be received 1 time in a 12 month period.

How to Apply

Apply at the local DSS office.


Have questions, call our office at 919-542-2759 or email


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