W-2 welfare reform poses new problems for domestic violence

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 12 May 1998 06:45:11 -0700 (PDT)

FWD [Milwalkee, WIsconsin] Business Journal editorial - May 11, 1998


    Comment On Welfare Reform - by Kathie Stolpman

Normally, shelters for domestic violence victims would feel hopeful to see
the number of battered women and children decline. Sojourner Truth House
and other shelters around the state have, in fact, seen the number of women
seeking safety going down -- but there isn't a good feeling about it.

There isn't comfort in those numbers, because we believe there are many
women who need shelter and safety but are more afraid to leave the
"familiar home setting" -- even if it's violent -- than face the unknown
expectations of welfare reform (W-2). We are seeing a new despair in the
lives of battered women. Those who do leave abusive homes are staying at
the shelter for a longer period of time.

Traditionally, battered women face their greatest danger when they leave.
Now, without the safety net of Aid for Families with Dependent Children
(AFDC) and the new requirement for work, a woman without income is facing
even more danger.

Women who may have relied on their partner for support and perhaps for
child care are faced with the uncertainty of finding adequate child care
and work. They are facing homelessness and a new powerlessness not seen in
the past.

At the Sojourner Truth House and the Belle Resource Center for Women and
Children, we are responding by developing new initiatives, such as a job
readiness program, to help address these increased needs.

Every effort is being made to help women develop greater self-sufficiency
skills that will strengthen their ability move beyond the experience of
violence and homelessness. It takes all of us working together to make this

[Kathie Stolpman is executive director of the Sojourner Truth House, which
operates a shelter for women and children and offers programs to deal with
family violence in Milwaukee.]


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