North Carolina Work First Family Assistance

Updated June 27, 2019

Work First Family Assistance is North Carolina’s version of TANF that offers up to 24 months of cash assistance and employment services to very poor families.

This program helps parents support themselves and their families by offering short-term training and other services to increase the chances of employment. Ultimately, the goal is to help all families move to self-sufficiency.

As a condition of eligibility, Work First applicants are required to register for the First Stop Employment Assistance Program with the Employment Security Commission (ESC), unless there is a good cause.

Failure to register results in the family’s ineligibility for Work First Family Assistance.

How do you apply for cash assistance in NC?

Applications for Work First can be made in person at your local Departments of Social Services in the county in which you reside.

All applications must be screened, evaluated for eligibility, and processed, usually within forty-five (45) days.

To set up an appointment, please call

Families who are experiencing a temporary crisis associated with employment may apply for Benefit Diversion as an alternative to traditional cash assistance.

Eligible families may receive a one-time lump-sum payment equal to a maximum of three (3) months of Work First benefits.