Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Social Services

Overview of the Issue

Many women applying for public assistance have, at some time in their lives, experienced abuse by an intimate partner. The social services system poses many difficulties and safety concerns for victims of domestic violence whose efforts toward self-sufficiency are often obstructed by their abusers.

Federal and state legislation has dramatically changed the public assistance system and the way welfare is delivered in the wake of welfare reform. Recognizing the challenges faced by domestic violence victims, both federal and New York State welfare reform legislation created the Family Violence Option (FVO). The FVO provides an opportunity for victims of domestic violence to obtain temporary assistance without further compromising their safety or the safety of their children.

Domestic Violence Shelter System

New York State's domestic violence shelter system is funded through the local departments of social services. Residential domestic violence programs are licensed through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Both residential and non-residential domestic violence services are available to victims of domestic violence at various locations throughout the state, regardless of the person's income or eligibility for public assistance.