Ohio Works First (OWF) - Cash Assistance

Ohio Works First (OF) Cash Assistance Program
This program is also referred to as the federal "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families" program. TANF is the title used in federal legislation and regulations. Ohio has adopted the title Ohio Works First (OWF) for its time-limited cash assistance program.

The major goal of OWF is to help participants transition from welfare dependency toward personal responsibility, employmentfamily_services and self-sufficiency. OWF participants have specific requirements. Other supportive services, such as transportation, child care and PRC services are also available to the participant as needed.

At the time of application for assistance, the Eligibility Worker identifies the required participants and then refers them to the Social Program Coordinator (SPC) for assessment and assignment to the appropriate work activity. One tool that the SPC uses for assessment is the Self-Sufficiency Contract (SSC), which serves as a guide to assist families in designing personalized Self-Sufficiency Plans (SSP).
The self-sufficiency plan spells out what each participant needs to do and what Job & Family Services will do to help them reach identified goals. The participant is informed of his/her rights and responsibilities when signing the contract and plan. Failure to comply to the terms of the contract or plan without good cause may result in a sanction and loss of benefits.

Work activities are mandatory and require participation in order to receive time-limited cash assistance and/or SNAP.

There are Federal and State recognized work activities, each with limitations for the participant. The Federal Work Activities include: Employment, Work Experience Program (WEP), Subsidized Employment Program (SEP), Job Search and Job Readiness, Vocational Education (Post secondary), Job Skills Training, Education (directly related to employment for someone without a high school diploma or GED) and Basic Education (Aspire).

The State Work Activities are referred to as Alternative or Developmental and are unique to each county's department of Job & Family Services. The activities often consist of parenting or life skills classes or counseling (drug/alcohol, mental health, rehabilitation). The hours of participation in a Federal or State work activity as well as who must participate vary according to the make up of the assistance group and what benefits they receive.

OWF is time limited - 36 months (lifetime limit) under Ohio law. Each county has developed hardship exemptions that would allow assistance groups to remain on OWF for a longer period of time. Athens County Department of Job and Family Services has a committee to review each case as the assistance group approaches the 36 month time limit. This committee makes the recommendation of which cases meet the hardship exemption.

Eligibility: The OWF program requires completing an "Application for Cash, Medical and Food Assistance" and a face-to-face interview with a caseworker. Applications can also be completed online. Face-to-face interviews are held at the initial familyservapplication and every 12 months. In addition, six months after a face-to-face interview, will receive via mail the Cash and Food Assistance Interim Report.

There must be a child in need; or a woman without any other children must be in her sixth month of pregnancy. A child's home must be with a parent, specified relative, custodian or legal guardian. The OWF program does not have a resource limitation. In fact, resources, liquid or non-liquid, do not affect eligibility for OWF. Verification of age, citizenship, and identity must be completed before any individual, adult or child, is eligible to be included in the assistance group.

The Work Experience Program (WEP)

Those who receive Ohio Works First (OWF) cash benefits and/or SNAP aka Food Assistance may be required to participate in a work activity intended to help prepare them for future employment.

The Work Experience Program (WEP) provides an opportunity for individuals to acquire valuable training, skill development, work experience and possible job placement. WEP places participants in job settings with employers in the community. Work site sponsors can be government or educational organizations, nonprofit or for-profit companies.

Participants are assigned to the site for a set number of hours per month, depending on their type of assistance and other circumstances. They are not paid wages, but instead they receive public assistance during the time of their work experience.

The work site's role is to provide supervision to promote good work habits. Each month, the site reports the hours completed and comments on work behavior.
An employer may request to become a work site by calling (740) 797-2523.

Eligibility: Participants are assigned to WEP by their SPC.


Sanctions are a reality for some who participate in our assistance programs. A person can be sanctioned for failing or refusing to meet the requirements of the OWF program.

For a first failure or refusal, the county agency shall deny or terminate benefits for one calendar month or until the failure or refusal ceases, whichever is longer.

For a second failure or refusal, the county agency shall deny or terminate benefits for three calendar months or until the failure or refusal ceases, whichever is longer.

For a third or subsequent failure or refusal, the county agency shall deny or terminate benefits for six calendar months or until the failure or refusal ceases, whichever is longer.

If you wish to comply with your sanction, you will need to complete this form.

It's as easy as... 1, 2, 3 to apply, renew, make changes, check status for cash, food and medical assistance. 

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