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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 3, 1996

October 3, 1996



  SUBJECT:       Guidelines to States for Implementing
                 the Family Violence Provisions

Domestic violence has a devastating impact on families and communities. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are subjected to assault, rape, or murder at the hands of an intimate family member. Our children's futures are severely threatened by the fact that they live in homes with domestic violence. We know that children who grow up with such violence are more likely to become victims or batterers themselves. The violence in our homes is self-perpetuating and eventually it spills into our schools, our communities, and our workplaces.

Domestic violence can be particularly damaging to women and children in low-income families. The profound mental and physical effects of domestic violence can often interfere with victims' efforts to pursue education or employment -- to become self-sufficient and independent. Moreover, it is often the case that the abusers themselves fight to keep their victims from becoming independent.

As we reform our Nation's welfare system, we must make sure that welfare-to-work programs across the country have the tools, the training, and the flexibility necessary to help battered women move successfully into the work force and become self-sufficient.

For these reasons, I strongly encourage States to implement the Wellstone/Murray Family Violence provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 (Public Law 104-193, section 402(a)(7)). These provisions invite States to increase services for battered women through welfare programs and help these women move successfully and permanently into the workplace. The Family Violence provisions are critical in responding to the unique needs faced by women and families subjected to domestic violence.

As we move forward on our historical mission to reform the welfare system, this Administration is committed to offering States assistance in their efforts to implement the Family Violence provisions.

Accordingly, I direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to develop guidance for States to assist and facilitate the implementation of the Family Violence provisions. In crafting this guidance, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice should work with States, domestic violence experts, victims' services programs, law enforcement, medical professionals, and others involved in fighting domestic violence. These agencies should recommend standards and procedures that will help make transi-tional assistance programs fully responsive to the needs of battered women.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is further directed to provide States with technical assistance as they work to implement the Family Violence provisions.

Finally, to more accurately study the scope of the problem, we should examine statutory rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault as threats to safety and barriers to self-sufficiency. I therefore direct the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make it a priority to understand the incidence of statutory rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault in the lives of poor families, and to recommend the best assessment, referral, and delivery models to improve safety and self-sufficiency for poor families who are victims of domestic violence.

I ask the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to report to me in writing 90 days from the date of this memorandum on the specific progress that has been made toward these goals.


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