Navigating the Welfare Reform Aftermath: How Survivors of Domestic Violence are Faring

WCPC Seminar Series on Poverty and Policy: Fall 2008

Presented by
Taryn Lindhorst
Associate Professor of Social Work
University of Washington
Ilene Stohl
Economic Justice Program Coordinator
Washington State Coalition against Domestic Violence
Traci Underwood
Economic Justice Program Specialist
Washington State Coalition against Domestic Violence
Monday, December 3, 2008  3:00 - 4:00 p.m.; questions / discussion until 4:30 p.m.
Parrington Hall Commons, Room 308
University of Washington


The public welfare office is a critical location for securing resources for impoverished battered women with children. Women report that obtaining independent financial support is an essential step in the process of ending abuse, and the welfare office is a location to which poor women turn for this support. With the passage of the Family Violence Option (FVO) amendment to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (i.e., “welfare reform”), Congress emphasized that battered women should be able to obtain services through the welfare system, even if they were unable to comply with new welfare reform regulations as a result of the abuse. Despite reported rates that 20 – 30% of welfare clients are currently experiencing domestic violence, studies of the implementation of the Family Violence Option (FVO) under welfare reform find that women rarely receive domestic violence services in welfare offices. In this presentation, we will review three studies carried out by UW faculty member, Taryn Lindhorst investigating possible reasons for underuse of the FVO. In response, Ilene Stohl, of the Washington State Coalition against Domestic Violence Economic Justice Program, will discuss how these findings mirror experiences in Washington state, and current efforts to ensure access to welfare services for battered mothers in the state.


See the slides from this presentation here.