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Work First

Changing The Welfare Culture

Work First

Scarlett Dempsey
Economic Services Supervisor

To see the full version of Alexander County's Work First Plan, click here.

Work First Family Assistance

Work First Community Employment Case Manager assists with training, work experience and supportive casework services to enable Work First Family Assistance recipients to become self-sufficient and self-supporting. Work is required for families on welfare. Work First is based on the premise that parents have a responsibility to support themselves and their children. Through Work First, parents can get short-term training and families can get childcare assistance and other services to help them become self-sufficient, but ultimately the responsibility is theirs, and most families have two years to move off welfare. In any given months, depending on how many families come into the system, how long they stay and how many leave, the number of families on welfare rises or falls.

Recognizing this, 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, childcare, and 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. To receive Work First benefits, parents must register with the First Stop Employment Assistance Program, sign a Mutual Responsibility Agreement, and once they move into the phased-in work requirement, they can continue to receive benefits for up to 24 months. Families reaching the 24-month limit cannot reapply for welfare for three years.

3. Retention:

Helping families that leave welfare to stay off by encouraging them to save and by helping to maintain permanent employment.

The Goal of Work First:

The philosophy of Work First is that “All people have the responsibility to their families and their communities to work and provide for their children.” The goal of Work First is to assist able-bodied applicants in becoming self- sufficient by securing full-time employment as quickly as possible. The program supports self-sufficiency by:

  • Promoting Work
  • Requiring Personal Responsibility
  • Helping Families Get and Keep a Job
  • Locating Absent Parents

If there are two parents, a stepparent or the father/mother of one of your children in the home, you must complete a separate WFFA Documentation Workbook and both are required to attend when you see your eligibility worker.

The following information is required of all applicants and will be needed to help determine your eligibility. Please bring the following:

  • Proof of US Citizenship, Identity and State Residency
  • Social Security Cards
  • Current Wages! Check Stubs

Contact Scarlett Dempsey, Work First Supervisor at 828-352-7608

For additional information on all Work First Programs in North Carolina, see University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work)