Work First Family Assistance Program

Work First Family Assistance Applications are taken on a first come, very serve basis. You have the right to apply for Work First on the day that you come into the Department of Social Services.

This is a cash assistance, employee-based program.  Families found eligible receive a monthly check and Medicaid.  Eligibility is based on household income and reserve.  The program's purpose is to enable citizens to become self-sufficient by linking them with resources and skills that help them become secure and independent and to maintain ongoing employment.

To be eligible for Work First Family Assistance (WFFA) applicants must:

  • manholdingcashHave a child living in your home under the age of 18 years of age (or, if over 18 and still in high school, will graduate high school before age 19)   Note: Certain relatives or persons with legal custody may apply for children in their home.
  • Be a U.S. Citizen and provide proof that you are (Documented aliens may also be eligible for benefits)
  • Have a certain degree of kinship to the child(ren), or have legal custody or legal guardianship of the child(ren) in your home. (Legal means that there is a court order, signed by a judge)
  • Cooperate with your worker to pursue child support assistance from the absent parent.
  • Work with an Employment Social Worker to develop a plan (called a Mutual Responsibility Agreement or MRA) to help you to move your family to independence
  • Have net countable income (take home pay) below a certain need standard (see chart below - there are certain deductions that also apply):
Number in Family Need Standard (Monthly)
1 $362.00
2 $472.00
3 $544.00
4 $594.00
5 $648.00
6 $698.00
7 $746.00
8 $772.00
  • Have less than or equal to $3,000.00 in resources
  • Not have exhausted the 60-month federal time limit for receiving assistance (24 months in NC)

Persons eligible for WFFA may receive monthly checks as long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria and have not exhausted time limits for receipt of benefits. Certain families may be eligible for a diversion check and receive three months of benefits in one lump sum (instead of over a period of three months).


For more information about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in North Carolina (called Work First Family Assistance or WFFA), check out the North Carolina Division of Social Services website:



Assistance is provided under the WFFA program for employed persons that earn too much money to be eligible for a monthly check.

Recipients must meet certain income guidelines, have a child in the home under the age of 18 and be US citizens or qualified aliens.

Recipients must attend a two-day economic literacy class.

Expenses such as minor car repairs and insurance premiums are paid in emergency situations to help recipients stay employed. 

Eligible recipients receive a monthly fuel expense stipend of .25/mile (maximum $75 monthly).

The goal of this program is to stay employed!!

Job Duty Phone #
Danielle Johnston Caseworker
Lynn Freeman


Sometimes emergencies happen!

Although McDowell County Department of Social Services cannot help in all situations, there are times when we can assist families in crisis.

Some examples where we may be able to help include the following:

  • Prevention of utility disconnections (when a family member is briefly unemployed)
  • Payment of portion of rent to avoid eviction (provided the family has means to pay thereafter)

This in not meant to be an ongoing way of alleviating crises and families should plan for the unexpected expenses that inevitably arise, but we will help if we can or refer you to community resources that may offer assistance.

Note: Emergency Assistance funding is contingent upon available county funding. 





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