Is TANF Truly Accessible and Helpful? Victims’ Experiences With Domestic Violence Screening Under the Family Violence Optionedit
This study explores the experiences of domestic violence victims with their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applications and the subsequent assessment processes in the state of Georgia, focusing on the conditions related to their disclosure of abuse and their postdisclosure experiences. This study interviewed five victims of domestic violence, four local victim advocates, and three nationally recognized experts regarding domestic violence screening in TANF programs using semistructured interviews. Data were analyzed using grounded theory techniques. The findings showed that the participants perceived TANF application and assessment processes as (i) inaccessible and (ii) unhelpful, lacking special considerations for domestic violence victims. Conditions related to victims’ disclosure of abuse included (i) safety concerns, (ii) working relationships between local victim support agencies and TANF offices, (iii) a safe environment to disclose abuse, and (iv) advocacy. After disclosing their domestic violence history to their TANF caseworkers, the victims reported experiencing (i) a lack of continued assessment and support related to domestic violence and (ii) a compulsion to make final decisions regarding continuing or discontinuing their TANF applications. The current study contributes to the field of social work by providing a better understanding of how and to what extent victims of domestic violence are actually supported within the TANF system and by yielding practice and policy implications for effectively assisting the victims of domestic violence within the TANF system.