Frontline worker responses to domestic violence disclosure in public welfare offices

Soc Work. 2010 Jul;55(3):235-43. doi: 10.1093/sw/55.3.235.


Although substantial numbers of women seeking Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) report domestic violence, few receive mandated services through the Family Violence Option (FVO). This study used transcripts ofinterviews between welfare caseworkers and their clients to identify and classify the responses made by workers to client disclosures of abuse and to assess the match or mismatch of these responses with FVO policy requirements. Only 22 of 782 client interviews involved the disclosure of abuse to the welfare caseworker. A typology of worker responses was created, from least to most engaged. This typology shows that only half of those who disclosed abuse received assistance from the welfare worker, despite policy mandates that clients receive information on TANF waivers and community resources. This study suggests that problems with implementation of the FVO reflect a systemic reluctance to address issues of violence with women rather than problems of individual workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Domestic Violence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Poverty
  • Social Welfare*
  • Social Work*