What victims of domestic violence should know about Florida's Welfare Transition Program (WTP).
- What is Florida's Welfare Transition Program (WTP)? (See Answer)
- What are the eligibility requirements for WTP? (See Answer)
- What is required of participants in WTP? (See Answer)
- Can WTP help me move to get a better job? (See Answer)
- I am a victim of domestic violence. How does that affect my participation in WTP? (See Answer)
The Welfare Transition Program is Florida's plan for providing eligible families with services that will assist them in becoming self-sufficient.
- Job Search, Job Preparation, and Job Placement
- Education and Training
- Case Management and Counseling
- Subsidized Child Care
- Transportation Assistance
- Relocation Assistance
Families who receive temporary cash are automatically eligible for services. These families may be required to participate in a work activity as a condition of receiving benefits. To be eligible for cash benefits, an applicant must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen
- Be a legal resident of the state
- If the applicant is under the age of 18, reside with a custodial parent, relative caregiver, or in another setting approved by the Department of Children and Families
- Include a minor child in the family
- Meet income and resource guidelines
Families who do not receive cash assistance may be eligible for services if they are defined as "needy". In order to be determined as needy, the total income for the family must be below 200% of the federal poverty level for the family size, and one or more of the following circumstances must apply:
- Be a victim of Domestic Violence
- Be a family
- Be a family at risk of welfare dependency due to substance abuse or mental illness
- Be a family with children at risk for abuse or neglect
- Be a family which has previously received cash benefits and is transitioning to full-time work
- Be an individual targeted for teen pregnancy prevention activities and services
- Be a custodial parent
During the application process for cash benefits, Medicaid, and/or food stamps, applicants will be required to cooperate with Child Support Enforcement unless they have a good reason not to. Good reasons for not cooperating include:
- Increased risk of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to the applicant or another family member
- A child conceived as the result of incest or rape
(Child Support Enforcement may require applicants who seek good cause for not cooperating to provide copies of police reports, restraining orders, or other documents and/or testimony.)
If the applicant does not have a good reason for not cooperating, they will be expected to:
- Assist in establishing paternity
- Assist in identifying and locating the non-custodial parent
- Assist in establishing, modifying, or enforcing an order for support
Families who receive cash benefits will be required to assign rights to any child support money collected while they are receiving benefits over to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Participants in the welfare transition program will also be required to participate in a minimum of 30 hours of work activities weekly. Work activities include:
- Working for a private employer
- Working for an employer who is subsidized (given money) by the program
- Vocational education
- On-the-job training
- Community service
- Workfare (work for a not-for-profit agency in exchange for your cash benefit check)
Victims of domestic violence may be exempted from all or part of the work requirements for a period of time if participating in work activities would put them at risk of further abuse. They may need to pursue other activities that would help them escape the abuse, such as filing for an injunction for protection, counseling, or other activities. (See Domestic Violence & the Welfare Transition Program) Others who may be exempted include:
- Minors under the age of 16
- Recipients of SSI or SSDI (disability) checks
- Adults who are not included in the calculation of cash assistance (Child-Only Cases)
- A custodial parent who has a child under the age of 3 months (these applicants may be required to attend parenting classes)
- Applicants who are under the age of 19 and have not completed high school (these applicants may be required to attend school or other educational activities)
- A person who is totally responsible for the personal care of a disabled family member
While not exempt from work activities, some participants may qualify for a "good cause exception" and be free of sanction penalties for non-participation. These may be individuals who:
- Are or have been victims of domestic violence
- Have no child care available for a child under the age of 6
- Have a pending SSI application
- Are undergoing treatment for mental illness or substance abuse
- Have a medical incapacity
Applicants who are exempted (or excepted for good cause) from work requirements may be required to participate in alternative activities such as counseling, treatment, or parenting classes as necessary and appropriate in order for the applicant to become "work ready".
An applicant who is not exempted from work activities, does not work, and does not have a good reason for not working will be penalized as follows:
- 1st Incident of non-compliance - the entire family's cash assistance benefits are stopped for a minimum of 10 days or until the individual who failed to comply does so.
- 2nd Incident - the entire family's cash benefits are stopped for 1 month or until the individual who failed to comply does so, whichever is later.
- 3rd Incident - the entire family's cash benefits are stopped for a minimum of 3 months or until the individual who failed to comply does so, whichever is later.
(In addition to cash penalties, food stamp penalties are also applied.)
Some participants in the Welfare Transition Program (WTP) may be eligible for the relocation assistance program. This program was established to assist eligible families in relocating to communities with greater opportunities for self-sufficiency. Eligible families may receive a lump-sum of cash benefit to assist with the costs of relocating. Interested participants must:
- Demonstrate that they are unlikely to achieve self-sufficiency in the current community of residence
- Have secured a job that provides an increased salary and/or improved benefits in the new location
- Have a family support network in the new location
- Be relocating to escape domestic violence
Participants who receive Relocation Assistance for any purpose other than domestic violence must sign an agreement restricting the family from applying for cash benefits for 6 months. Domestic violence victims are exempt from this requirement.
Past or current victims may have more barriers to self-sufficiency than other participants in the Welfare Transition Program (WTP). The Welfare Transition Program (WTP) is required to let everyone know, beginning at Orientation, about available resources, referrals, and options available in the program for victims of domestic violence.
Victims of domestic violence can choose to tell a case manager about the abuse at any time. All the information disclosed to the case manager or other staff of the welfare transition program will be kept strictly confidential. Case managers can also protect other information such as addresses, phone numbers, post office box locations, training sites, job placement sites, employment addresses, health care providers, children's schools, etc.
Some of the activities that the welfare transition program can offer to assist domestic violence victims include:
- Obtaining emergency shelter
- Individual or group counseling
- Peer support groups
- Assistance in applying for an injunction for protection
- Case management activities at a victims' services agency
- Assembling documentation regarding domestic violence
- Temporary or permanent relocation
- Prosecution of the perpetrator
- Life skills training
- Pastoral counseling
- Substance abuse treatment
- Accessing children's services
- Stress management activities
- Parenting classes
- Accessing available medical assistance related to domestic violence
- Mental health counseling
- Advocacy from a domestic violence center
Participants can also ask for assistance with safety planning. There are many types of safety plans that address a variety of things, including:
- How to get away in an emergency
- How to get help if leaving is not an option
- Where to go once the victim is away
- How to be secure in the new location
- How to keep a link with helpers
- Keeping kids safe
- Keeping pets safe
- Protecting property
- Safety at work and during leisure activities
- Anticipating and responding to a batterer's actions
Florida Department of Children and Families Provides information about Department of Children and Families programs and news updates.
Florida Dept. of Health and Human Services Economic Self-Sufficiency Information Provides links to Florida's State TANF Plan, service center locations, and other public benefits information, including Medicaid and Food Stamps.
Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation Welfare Transition Program Provides links to the laws that created TANF and links to guidance papers and state and federal documents regulating TANF and its administration in Florida.
Workforce Florida Website Provides contact information for Florida's Regional Workforce Boards and One Stop Centers who administer TANF.
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Welfare Reform Information Provides Federal policy information regarding TANF, including information pertaining to immigrants and victims of trafficking. Also includes a link to the TANF reports to Congress for Fiscal Years 1998 through 2002.
Statistical information and analysis regarding poverty and welfare issues:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a range of government policies and programs, with an emphasis on those affecting low- and moderate-income people.
Center for Law and Social Policy The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1968, conducts research, policy analysis, technical assistance, and advocacy on issues related to economic security for low-income families with children.
2002 Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Executive Summary. (2002). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A review of research on welfare and domestic violence. (2000). Tolman, R.M., University of Michigan, and Raphael, J., Center for Impact Research.
Census 2000 Profile: Florida. (2002). U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration: Washington, DC.
Criminal victimization 2000: Changes 1999-2000 with Trends 1993-2000. (2001). Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey, National Crime Journal.
Domestic violence as a barrier to women's economic self-sufficiency. (1999). Sachs, H. Welfare Information Network.
Domestic violence crime statistics for the state of Florida. (2002). Florida Department of Law Enforcement: Tallahassee, FL.
Domestic violence report. (2006-2007). Florida Department of Children and Families, Family Safety Unit.
Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. (2000). U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice: Washington, DC.
Florida state fact sheet from USDA/ERS. (2003). Economic Research Service, USDA: Washington, DC.
Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress. (2002). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Keeping battered women safe through the welfare-to-work journey: How are we doing? (1999). Raphael, J. and Haennicke, S., Taylor Institute.
New evidence documenting the relationship between domestic violence and welfare. (1997). Raphael, J., Taylor Institute, and Tolman, R.M., University of Michigan.
Program structure and service delivery in eleven welfare-to-work grant programs. (2001). Smith Nightingale, D., The Urban Institute.
Sex differences in violent victimization, 1994. (1997). Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report.
Trapped by poverty/Trapped by abuse, Supplement I. (1998). Center for Policy Research.
Women on Welfare: A study of the Florida WAGES Population. (2000). Merrill, J.C., Ring-Kurtz, S., Olufokunbi, D., Aversa, S., & Sherker, J., Available from Jeffrey C. Merrill.