North Carolina Work First

Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in Living Assistance
December 19, 2018


Work First is North Carolina's plan to help families stay off welfare or move off welfare and into jobs. Work First is not just a cash assistance program, rather, it is built upon the belief that all people have a responsibility to their families and community to work and provide for their children.

Through Work First, parents can get short-term training and families can get child care assistance and other services to help them become self-sufficient. Most families have two years to move off welfare. Work First emphasizes three strategies:

  1. Diversion: Keeping families off welfare by helping them cope with unexpected emergencies or setbacks. Under Work First, qualifying families can get up to three months worth of cash diversion assistance, child care, food stamp benefits, and Medicaid, if they stay off welfare.
  2. Work: Shortening the length of time that families are on welfare by making work mandatory and by limiting how long a family can receive cash assistance.
  3. Retention: Helping families that leave welfare to stay off with services such as transportation, encouraging them to save and by helping to make sure they really are better off working than on welfare.


North Carolina Work First is administered by Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

Program Requirements:

In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a resident of North Carolina, either pregnant or responsible for a child under 19 years of age, a U.S. national, citizen, legal alien, or permanent resident, have low or very low income, and be either under-employed (working for very low wages), unemployed or about to become unemployed.

Application Details

To apply for this program, please contact the local administering agency near you. Find your local administering agency on the Local County Department of Social Services (DSS) Offices page. 



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North Carolina Medicaid Program
North Carolina Work First

Welfare Info