Ohio Works First is the financial assistance portion of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Through the program, low-income families can receive monthly benefits for up to 36 months. In 2015, the monthly benefit amount for a family of three is $473. Applicants must meet certain requirements to qualify.
Certain people are excluded from the program automatically, including fugitive felons, probation or parole violators, and anyone convicted of fraudulently obtaining public assistance benefits in Ohio or another state.
Ohio Works First is open only to families with children 18 or younger -- 19 if the child is still finishing high school -- living in the home. If you're the guardian but not the parent to a child living in your home, you may apply for child only benefits on behalf of the child. Women at least 6 months pregnant also are eligible.
Families with children must also meet additional requirements. You must:
- Be an Ohio resident.
- Be a U.S. national, citizen, legal alien or permanent resident.
- Work or participate in a qualifying work activity, such as on-the-job training or community service.
- Sign a self-sufficiency contract that explains your rights and responsibilities under the program.
- Meet income guidelines based on the household size. For example, as of 2015, a family of 3 can't exceed a gross monthly income of $825. Child care costs may be deducted.
Recipients are required to work or complete work related activities for the month. The number of hours required vary based on the age of your child and the number of adults living in the home. For example, if you're the only adult in the home with a child under 6, you must work at least 86 hours per month. If the child is 6 or older, you must work 129 hours per month. If there are two adults in the home, the requirement is 151 combined hours. If you're using subsidized child care available through the state, the requirement is 237 combined hours per month.
Applying for the Program
Documents and information you'll need for all household members include:
Social Security numbers
Birth certificates or hospital records
Alien registration card, if not a U.S. citizen
Proof of income
You can apply for Ohio Works First online through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website. You also may download and print the form “Request for Cash, Food and Medical Assistance” from the Ohio Job and Family Services website. Or, obtain and complete the form in person at your local JFS office or . Find your local office by referring to the JFS County Agency Directory.