Ohio Works First

The Ohio Works First (OWF) program 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
The OWF cash benefit is limited to 36-months for families with minor children or pregnant women.

Am I eligible?
Ohio Works First is available to the following groups who can meet financial and participation requirements:
  • Families with at least one child under age 18, or age 19 if still in high school
  • Women who are at least six months pregnant

Once an application is submitted, a caseworker from Cuyahoga County will be in touch to schedule your interviews and help guide you through the following process before you receive benefits:

Eligibility interview
  • Be referred for a child support interview, if needed
  • Pre-employment screening to access strengths and barriers to participating in activities and finding employment
  • Assessment and assignment interview to determine work requirements and develop a Self-Sufficiency Contract and Plan
  • Applicant Job Readiness program, if required

Children may also be eligible independently for Ohio Works First assistance if they reside with:
  • one or more parents where all the parents in the home receive Supplemental Security Income
  • a legal guardian or custodian
  • a relative who is not included in the assistance group. In these circumstances, children are exempt from the work requirement. There is also no limit to how long they can receive benefits.

Child support recipients
You cannot receive child support and cash assistance at the same time. If you accept cash assistance, the state will keep any child support payments you receive.

Who is not eligible for Ohio Works First
Groups and individuals who are not eligible include, but are not limited to:
  • Fugitive felons
  • Probation/parole violators
  • Individuals convicted for fraudulently misstating where they live to receive benefits
  • Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income
  • Families receiving adoption assistance payments or foster care maintenance payments
  • Families with income that exceeds the amount for the assistance group size

Payment information
Payments are issued in one of two ways:
  • Deposited directly into a checking or savings account
  • Automatically loaded onto an Ohio Pathway card. The Ohio Pathway card can be used at MasterCard member banks, ATMs, and any retailers that accept MasterCard.

The Process for Applying

  1. Apply online
  2. Call 844-640-OHIO (6446), Mon – Fri 8am to 4pm
  3. Visit your local library for help applying online, by phone, or by fax
  4. In-person at a Neighborhood Family Service Center


Child Care Assistance Program

The Child Care Assistance Program can help you cover part of the cost of child care while you are working or in school. Eligible residents can choose from hundreds of licensed care programs to find the one that best meets their needs.

Emergency (Expedited) Food Assistance

Cuyahoga County residents may be eligible for a faster decision on food assistance applications if they meet certain criteria.


Medicaid provides free or low-cost health coverage to millions of low-income Americans. Like other health insurance plans, Medicaid can help pay for doctor’s visits, hospital expenses, long-term care, and more.

Related Information

Program Location

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