How Ohio helps needy families in crisis, but still encourages a goal of self-sufficiency

The Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC) program, as previously detailed in a report released by The Center for Community Solutions, addresses emergent needs families may experience during a time of hardship. A loss of a job or a sudden illness are only a few examples of issues that could catapult families into poverty. These scenarios are easy to imagine when more than 3.75 million people in Ohio live in or near poverty and more than 22 percent of children live below poverty.[1]

The Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC) program addresses emergent needs families may experience during a time of hardship.

Updated PRC plans for all 88 counties, which up until a few weeks ago had not been updated since 2010, have shed light on how counties around the state uniquely implement plans and services to individuals in their counties who are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding as utilized through the PRC program. The flexibility that this program provides allows counties to quickly respond to the emergent needs of the individuals they serve. Three core elements define how counties plan to use the funding, in addition to adhering to the four core purposes of the TANF program, which are described in our recent reportWhat is the Prevention, Retention and Contingency program and how does it help families in crisis? Find out here Click To Tweet


PRC programming is used to prevent a group receiving assistance from needing further cash assistance, through a program like Ohio Works First. Programs and onetime cash assistance under PRC can work to stabilize a crisis for a family by meeting an emergent need and prevent the ripple effects that often accompany the downward spiral of poverty.


Retaining employment is an integral aspect of stabilizing a family in a time of crisis. By offering assistance for groups to purchase transportation, work equipment, uniforms and other workforce training, individuals can stay on a track of self-sufficiency and have the tools they need to be successful.


The definition of contingency is, “a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predated with certainty.”[2] An unseen event can threaten the stability of a family, especially the safety, health and wellbeing of children in that family. By providing services to meet an unpredicted and presenting need, a family can stabilize without needing additional assistance.

While reviewing county plans, some initiatives from around the state stand out. These initiatives shed light on how counties can utilize PRC funds to provide more assistance to the needy families by using the surplus of TANF funds, more than half a billion dollars, that are available and growing.

By providing services to meet an unpredicted and presenting need, a family can stabilize without needing further assistance.

  • Kinship Care: Counties around the state are utilizing PRC dollars to assist kinship caregivers who step in to assume responsibility of a child. A few counties specify that individuals who provide kinship care are eligible to receive benefits up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), which is an increase from the traditional 200 percent many counties operate under. Additionally, two specific counties allow for income eligibility to be determined through the child and not the kinship provider, allowing funding to follow the child. These services are vital for kinship caregivers as they may be required to purchase cribs, toddler beds, clothes, school supplies, child care and additional things necessary for caring for a child in their home.
  • Eviction/Housing Assistance: There are 21.7 percent of owner-occupied households in Ohio that are unaffordable, 48.8 percent of renter-occupied households are unaffordable around the state.  Providing assistance to families to pay for housing once the eviction or foreclosure process has started are present in many county PRC plans, however, assisting with property taxes, providing case managers at eviction courts and lead abatement assistance are examples of innovative ways counties are rising to meet the needs of the people they serve.
  • Transportation: Lack of reliable transportation can be a significant barrier when trying to retain employment, especially if an assistance group is experiencing an economic crisis. Almost every county addresses transportation needs in their PRC plans, however, some counties have specific detailed plans to address the emergent transportation needs of the individuals the program seeks to serve. Programs that pay for driver’s license fees, license reinstatement fees, license plate fees, four months of car insurance and car down payments all assist with specific needs that many individuals who are eligible for PRC have.

Community Solutions will continue to examine the way unspent TANF funds are utilized and how reinvigorated programs around the state can be replicated to work to reach people most in need.

[1] 2012-2016 ACS 5-year Estimates.