This report shares findings from a survey of 600 staff members from domestic violence programs, legal aid, and anti-poverty agencies working with victims on TANF-related issues.
The survey finds that when TANF works well, it makes a significant difference in the lives of victims. Unfortunately though, the survey data also reveals a different reality - one marked by bureaucratic black holes, indifferent or even hostile staff, inadequate benefits, rules and practices that effectively bar victims from needed assistance, and in some circumstances, mandates and errors that put victims in more danger than before they sought help.
The survey, conducted in late 2009 by Legal Momentum and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, found that a mere 14 percent of respondents said that the TANF family violence responses work well in their states, and only 43 percent said fewer than half of family violence victims were able to access TANF benefits. One in four respondents said "no" when asked if family violence information disclosed by victims was handled in an appropriate way.
Contents of the Survey Results include these sections:
- Victims living in poverty need TANF assistance and related services
- When TANF family violence responses work well, they make significant differences in the lives of victims and their children
- For too many victims, TANF does not provide what they need to be safe
- The TANF application process creates barriers to assistance and to appropriate family violence responses
- TANF assistance is inadequate - too little, too late
- The Family Violence Option (FVO) and other family violence responses inadequately address victims' unique issues
- Victims are not consistently and effectively screened or notified of family violence specific responses, waivers, or protections
- Victims who disclose violence do not consistently receive the family violence specific responses, waivers, or protections that they need to be safe
- Some TANF responses can make life more dangerous or difficult for victims
- Child support enforcement inconsistently addresses safety and financial concerns
- What changes would make TANF a more effective resource for victims?
The Appendix includes all survey data with associated tables.