In all of the slashing and cutting that’s going on within this budget process, you might have missed a small but important provision to eliminate the Displaced Homemaker Program. It was in the budget adopted by the Senate last month and showed up this morning in the money report from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. Despite the admittedly outdated-sounding name, this program provides important workforce development services to a population with significant barriers to self-sufficiency.
“Displaced homemakers” have traditionally been those who have provided unpaid household services for their homes and families and can’t secure living wage employment because of a lack of training or experience. Examples of today’s displaced homemakers include an under-employed working parent who needs more sustainable income after a spouse becomes disabled; a recently divorced or widowed low-income worker who needs financial assistance for job training or certification; and a domestic violence or sexual assault victim who was previously financially dependent on his/her abuser.
The North Carolina Council for Women currently administers funds to 35 Displaced Homemaker programs in the state, providing a range of services that include job training, job placement, financial literacy workshops and supportive student services such as tuition fees, transportation and child care.
The current proposals eliminate this program and re-direct the Divorce Filing Fee allocation to the Domestic Violence Center Fund. While some clients might be in need of both types of services, these programs are distinct – one focuses on workforce development and the other on victim assistance and awareness. Both are crucial and neither can afford to be cut.