Work First Family Assistance

Program Overview

Social Services provides assistance to families with dependent children through the Work First program. Assistance is provided to eligible families through supportive services as well as a monthly check. Work First also provides eligible families with medical assistance through the Medicaid program. Applicants are encouraged to apply for other Social Services programs for which they might be eligible, such as Food and Nutrition Services and Emergency Assistance. If a child's parent is absent from the home, the family must cooperate with Child Support Enforcement, also a part of Social Services.

Work First was developed by North Carolina to disperse federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds. TANF replaced Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) as part of the Welfare Reform Act of 1995. In Davidson County, Work First clients are divided into two categories - Child Only (CO) and Employment Services (ES).

Work First Child-Only

WFCO provides financial assistance to caregivers who are caring for a child(ren) under the age of 18 who are deprived of parental support and care for various reasons. The caregiver must be related within a certain degree of kinship or they must have documents signed by a judge placing the child in their legal custody or guardianship. The resources and income of the non-parental caregiver do not count toward the child's eligibility. However, the caregiver must comply with Child Support Enforcement in an attempt to secure child support.

Work First Employment Services (WFES)

WFES is based on the premise that all individuals have a responsibility to work and provide for their families. It is a time-limited financial support program for families with children under the age of 18 who are unemployed or under-employed. Employment services are provided to enable families to become self-sufficient.


The State of North Carolina requires that all able-bodied applicants/recipients become gainfully employed in as short a time as possible. Each head of household is responsible for participating 35 hours weekly in work-related activities. Work First Case Managers and participants work together to find the activities to enable each client to meet this requirement with the goal of securing the financial means to provide for their family.


The WFES program provides supportive services to recipients to enhance their efforts to become employed. These services may include child care, transportation, participation expenses and referrals to other services.

Time Limit

WFES has a time limit of 24 months. A family may receive cash assistance in North Carolina for 24 months and then must remain off Work First three years before being eligible again. In addition to the 24 month clock, there is a 60-month (five-year) lifetime limit on Work First Employment Services. Medicaid, Food and Nutrition Services and Housing Assistance are not subject to the time limits and may continue as long as the specific eligibility requirements are met.


Davidson County Social Services does not discriminate in the provision of services to all qualified persons.