Examining the impact of the Family Violence Option on women’s efforts to leave welfare

From Research on Social Work Practice

In 1997, while reforming federal welfare programs, the U.S. Congress established the Family Violence Option (FVO) to prevent reforms from adversely affecting those welfare recipients who are domestic violence victims. This research investigated if known domestic violence victims, and in particular those who received an FVO waiver, remained on the welfare rolls longer and worked less than other welfare recipients, as many critics speculated. The study wanted to assess what difference the FVO, in practice, has made on women’s ability to leave welfare and find employment. Using administrative and interview data the findings do not indicate that FVO waivers encourage women to stay on welfare longer. However, the poor outcomes of undocumented victims indicate that some individuals may be slipping through the cracks of a well-intentioned policy.

Abstract

Objective: The establishment of the Family Violence Option (FVO) in 1997 was met with some controversy, as critics believed waivers from time limit and work requirements would hinder women’s ability to leave welfare and find employment. Method: Using administrative and interview data from Maryland, multivariate equations analyze if domestic violence disclosure, administrative documentation, or waiver use had a statistically significant affect on one year employment and welfare use outcomes of individuals. Results: Waiver holders did not differ from non victims, but victims who are not documented received fewer months of welfare and earned less income. Conclusions: Findings do not indicate that FVO waivers encourage women to stay on welfare longer. However, the poor outcomes of undocumented victims indicate that some individuals may be slipping through the cracks of a well-intentioned policy.

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Article details
Hetling, A. (2005). Examining the Impact of the Family Violence Option on Women’s Efforts to Leave Welfare Research on Social Work Practice, 15 (3), 143-153 DOI: 10.1177/1049731504272908

     
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