In North Carolina Welfare Reform is called Work First. Congress enacted Public Law 104-193, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act on August 22, 1996. This law changed the focus of the welfare system from income support to work. The receipt of cash assistance was changed from entitlement to a time-limited income support program. Families who get cash assistance, now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), are limited to sixty (60) months of benefits in a lifetime. Additionally, in NC there is a twenty-four (24) month limit of TANF to families who are receiving intensive employment services.
Work First Employment Services works closely with families receiving TANF to reduce any barriers they may have to going to work and keeping a job. All strengths and barriers of a family are assessed and both the Employment Services social worker and client sign a Mutual Responsibility Agreement. This agreement outlines the plan for the family to move toward self-sufficiency as well as the services the Department of Social Services will provide to support the family's effort. Services that a family can access include: