Since 10/1/97, the implementation of Ohio's welfare reform law (HB408) and the federal welfare reform law (HR3734), has resulted in many changes in the administration of public assistance in Lorain County. Both the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) and the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) programs were eliminated and Ohio Works First (OWF) became the temporary assistance program for needy families. All OWF adults and minor heads of households are now required to participate in activities which prepare them for self-sufficiency. Early employment continues to be the emphasis. Individuals on OWF must participate a minimum of 20-35 hours per week in a work activity. This shift in emphasis, as well as new stronger sanctions for non-compliance, has resulted in increased employment and the abandonment of applications for assistance in favor of work by many.
OHIO WORKS FIRST ASSISTANCE
Ohio Works First is the name of the program that offers time-limited financial assistance and employment services to Lorain County families while a person is working towards self-sufficiency. Families must contain at least one minor child. A minor child is an individual who has not attained the age of 18 or an individual who has not attained age 19 and is a full time student in secondary or vocational school. OWF is also eligible to a pregnant individual in her 3rd tri-mester of pregnancy.
If you qualify, your grant amount will either be put directly into your bank account or on to an Ohio Eppicard. The amount will be based on the number of people in your family and your family's income. It is important to note that OWF cash benefits are limited to thirty six (36) months. This is just three years of cash assistance. Once this time period is exhausted, a person is no longer eligible for OWF cash for two years. After two years off cash assistance, a family can reapply giving "Good Cause" as to why they should be granted an additional 24 months of cash assistance. After this, a person has used their 5 years (60 months) of cash assistance and can never receive this benefit again. There are certain circumstances where you may be able to receive additional cash assistance once your time limit has been exhausted. You should have a discussion with a caseworker.
The OWF Monthly Payment Standards are:
OWF Payment Standard (Effective 01/01/12)
OWF Payment Standard (Effective 01/01/13)
$ to be updated
$ to be updated
OHIO WORKS FIRST EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
As a condition of receiving your cash benefits, you will be asked to sign a self-sufficiency contract. You will complete a Jobs Assessment Interview with an Employment Service Counselor who will evaluate your employment history and assist you in getting job training or making an assignment for you to attended Job Search activities within the agency. The agreement you sign is your commitment to complete thirty (30) hours of a work activity each week until you become self sufficient and you no longer need OWF cash assistance. LCDJFS work activities include working on a job, looking for a job, being enrolled in a job training program, going to college or a vocational school to obtain a certification, obtaining your GED, taking ESOL classes for those whose primary language is one other than English, and many more. We will connect you to a wide variety of programs to help you find a job, improve your skills and improve your employability.
Remember, participating in our jobs activities is a requirement of receiving OWF cash assistance. Signing the self-sufficiency contract is a requirement of receiving OWF cash assistance. If you fail to participate and complete the mandatory weekly hours of a work activity required by the State of Ohio, your OWF checks will be stopped and sanctions applied to your case rendering you ineligible for various periods of time.
Participants of the OWF Jobs Programs earn monthly participant allowances of up to $50 which should be used for transportation cost and incidentals relating to your assigned activity. People also may qualify for bus tickets to their assignments and child care while at their assignments.
NEW ELECTRONIC PAYMENT METHOD
Effective February 1, 2009, Cash Assistance recipients can choose to receive their benefits via the Ohio EPPICard™. The Ohio EPPICard™ is a MasterCard® debit card that can be used at MasterCard member banks, ATMs and any retailers that accept MasterCard. Clients can also choose to have their cash benefits direct deposited into their savings or checkings accounts as well.
The EPPICard™ will be mailed to the current address we have listed in your case. Should you have any questions concerning your balance, or if you lost your card and need a replacement, please call:
EPPICard™ Customer Service at 1-866-320-8822, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, or click here to access their website.
Beginning March 1, 2011 Ohio EPPICard users who call the customer service hotline will be charged a fee of $0.25 (25 cents) per call after their tenth call each month. The 25 cent charge has been mentioned in all Ohio EPPICard literature, however, the card vendor previously did not enforce it.
After their tenth call of the month, cardholders will hear a message reminding them that fees will accumulate after that call. Calls made by clients will not count towards the limit if they are made to:
Select or change their PIN (Personal Identification Number)
Report a lost, stolen or damaged card
Report a suspected PIN compromise
Question a transaction
The Ohio EPPICard is used as a debit card by Ohio Works First (OWF) and Disability Assistance (DA) cash recipients. The card vendor has noticed some cardholders call the customer service line repeatedly each month-well in excess of ten calls. Each EPPICard user received a brochure that identified the charge when they were issued the card.
For more information, recipients can contact Ohio EPPICard customer service at 1-866-320-8822.
Anyone wishing to apply for OWF cash assistance may do so at:
Lorain County Department of Job & Family Services
42485 North Ridge Road
Elyria, Ohio 44035
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 7:30 AM to 4:15 PM
Tuesday's we are open 7:30 AM to 6:15 PM.
Lorain County Job & Family Services
42485 North Ridge Road
Elyria, OH 44035-1057
Main Phone: (440) 323-5726
Lorain: (440) 244-4150
Fax: (440) 323-3422
TTY/TDD: (440) 284-4125
Cash/Food/Medical Call Center: (440) 284-4300
Child Support Call Center: (440) 284-4401