Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Women Rarely Receive Domestic Violence Services in Welfare Offices

Women in welfare offices rarely receive domestic violence services, according to a recent University of Washington analysis of the implementation of the Family Violence Option (FVO) (see Taryn Lindhorst, Marcia Meyers, and Erin Casey, Screening for Domestic Violence in Public Welfare Offices: An Analysis of Case Manager and Client Interactions, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, Jan. 2008, available at High rates of domestic violence are known among welfare recipients, and the welfare office is a vital location for providing women with resources toward financial independence.

A state option in the 1996 federal welfare reform law, the FVO helps domestic violence survivors move from welfare to work. The FVO allows states increased flexibility in applying the requirements of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to families affected by domestic violence without states being penalized financially. When states adopt the FVO, they are agreeing to
  • screen applicants and recipients of TANF for domestic violence while maintaining confidentiality;
  • provide referrals to counseling and supportive services;
  • and make good-cause waivers from TANF program requirements.

Waivers are to be granted where the requirements would make it harder for TANF recipients to escape domestic violence or where the requirements would unfairly penalize past, present, or potential victims of domestic violence. Program requirements that may be waived include the 60-month lifetime limit on receiving TANF assistance and mandatory work requirements.

See the full article from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

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