Domestic Violence Option for TANF Recipients

Authored By: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida


Under Florida’s Family Violence Option, a victim of domestic violence may be entitled to certain rights, benefits or exemptions when seeking cash assistance, Medicaid or Food Stamps from the Department of Children and Families (DCF). 

You may be entitled to the following:

  • Temporary deferral from work activities
  • Information and referral for counseling and treatment
  • Exemption from penalties if you are unable to cooperate with the efforts of child support enforcement
  • Exemption from the “cap” requirement (sex crime victims only)
  • Relocation assistance • Protection of your confidential and personal information
  • An extension of the 4-year limit on receiving benefits 

To receive cash assistance, you may be required to do the following: 

  • Participate in a work activity or an alternate plan
  • Participate in counseling and/or treatment
  • Develop a safety plan
  • Develop a plan to achieve self-sufficiency
  • Cooperate with child support enforcement 

You may be exempt from these requirements if:

  1.  Good cause can be shown for not having to abide by the requirements
  2. hese requirements may place you or your family members at increased risk of abuse or injury.

To be eligible for assistance, the following must apply to you:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen
  • You must apply for protection under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”)
  • You must be a legal resident of the State of Florida
  • You must have a minor child
  • You must meet the income resource guideline 

If you do not receive cash assistance, you may be eligible for other services if you fall in one of these categories: 

  • You are defined as “needy”
  • You are below 200% of the poverty guideline
  • And you are a survivor of domestic violence 

You may be entitled to relocation assistance to escape the abuse and/or take you to a place with greater opportunity for self-sufficiency

If you apply for benefits at DCF and you are not informed or afforded these rights, benefits or exemptions, and you feel that you were unfairly treated, contact your local legal aid or legal services provider. 

State Laws 

  • Section 414.065(4)(b) allows domestic violence victims an exemption from work requirements if their safety is threatened.
  • Section 414.065(4)(c) may allow an exemption for victims of domestic violence if the participant is unable to comply with work requirements due to mental or physical impairment caused by past occurrences of domestic violence.
  • Section 414.095(9)(g) informs domestic violence victims of their right to receive information about counseling and support services available to them as well as protecting confidentiality of information related to their case.
  • Section 414.095(14)(d) provides that failure to comply with Child Support Enforcement (CSE) disclosure requirement (e.g., provide the name of child’s other parent so child support can be assigned and collected) Is excused when such cooperation would put the victim at risk.
  • Section 414.105(5) allows a domestic violence victim to be considered for an extension of time limits based on hardship.
  • Section 414.157 provides for diversion services including a one-time payment of up to $1,000 for domestic violence victims.
  • Section 445.021 provides funds for relocation if domestic violence interferes with the ability of a parent to become selfsufficient. 

Updated: April 19, 2017 

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