The Family Violence Option (FVO) may provide states adopting this option protection from penalties that might otherwise be imposed for not meeting work participation requirements or for failing to comply with federal time limits. The FVO provides states with the flexibility to grant families temporary waivers from work and other program requirements without fear of penalties. Waivers may be granted to allow families to pursue domestic violence counseling, safety planning, and other related services.49
However, in order to qualify for this safeguard, states that grant exemptions to domestic violence victims must certify that they have and enforce procedures to screen and identify individuals who have a history of domestic violence and make referrals for counseling services while maintaining confidentiality.50 If a state meets these federal requirements and exceeds the 20 percent limit on the number of clients that can receive federal assistance beyond 60 months because the state is providing waivers to domestic violence victims, the state will not be penalized.51 Similarly, if a state fails to meet the required work participation rate because of good cause waivers to the work requirement granted to domestic violence victims, it will also not be penalized.
49 For the purposes of the FVO, a family must have "...an individual who is battered or subjected to extreme cruelty." See TANF Final Regulations, Section 260.51.
50 See TANF Final Regulations, Section 260.55 for additional details regarding federal recognition of domestic violence good cause waivers.
51 Schott, et al. 1999.