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Ohio Works First Assistance

What is Ohio Works First?

Ohio Works First is time-limited cash assistance to eligible families through Ohio's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, which emphasizes:     
  • Employment    
  • Personal Responsibility    
  • Self Sufficiency
If you qualify, the amount of assistance you receive will be based on the number of people in your family and your family’s income. You will receive the benefits through the Ohio Pathways card. It’s important to note that OWF cash benefits are limited to thirty six months. For "child only" cases there is no time limit.  After you have used thirty-six months of assistance, other benefits such as children’s health insurance, food assistance, and subsidized child care may still be available to you and your family.

You will be required to participate in employment activities for a required number of hours every month that you receive assistance. Your caseworker will connect you to a wide variety of programs to help you find a job, improve your skills, or find a better job. These activities may include volunteer work to help you develop a work history and good job reference, looking for a job, school, or a job training program. Your worker will develop a plan with you and ask you to sign a self sufficiency contract that explains your and your worker's responsibilities. If you don’t attend your program every day, your assistance may be stopped.

NOTE: You cannot receive child support AND cash assistance at the same time. If you receive case assistance the State will keep any child support payments you are receiving.

Do I qualify?

OWF is available to families living with at least one minor child or pregnant women. You must be the parent or specified relative of a minor child living in your household. A specified parent can be a grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, first cousin, stepparent, or stepsibling.

Eligibility is determined by your household income and by the number of people in the family.
You are not eligible if you are: a single individual with no children, a family with no minor children, non-U.S. citizens or non-qualified aliens, fugitive felons, and those convicted of program fraud when repayment has not yet occurred.

How do I apply for OWF?

Applying for cash assistance is a five step process:
  1. Complete an eligibility interview to review your personal circumstances, the OWF program and other alternatives to cash assistance.
  2. Receive a referral for a Child Support Interview, if it is needed to establish paternity and support for each of your children.
  3. Complete a Pre-Employment Screen that will assess your strengths and barriers to participating in activities and ultimately finding employment.
  4. Complete an Assessment and Assignment interview to determine your required work activities, complete your Self-Sufficiency Contract and Plan, and apply for child care benefits if needed.
  5. All new OWF applicants, with few exceptions, are required to successfully complete the Applicant Job Readiness program before benefits are approved. If you are already working or in school, talk to your worker, you may not have to attend.
You may apply for OWF cash assistance in person at any one of the six Neighborhood Family Service Centers, by calling for an application, or by downloading an application from our website. Appointments will be scheduled at the Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Center at the Virgil Brown Building located at 1641 Payne Avenue.

Call the Cuyahoga Benefits Application Hotline at (216) 416-4440 to have an application mailed to you or complete the application form by downloading the Request for Cash, Medical and Food Stamp Assistance Form 

  • Click here to download Application 7200* (Request For Cash, Medical And Food Stamp Assistance Form)
  • Click here for information in Spanish En Español