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Women Stepping Out:Intersections of Welfare Policy, Work and Abuse

Ficco, Danielle Marie (2007) Women Stepping Out:Intersections of Welfare Policy, Work and Abuse. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) was created in 1996, and it effectively abolished the sixty-year-old federal entitlement program for poor women and children known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). TANF imposed lifetime limits for receipt of assistance as well as work requirements for all recipients. These changes are problematic for many reasons and hit especially hard for women who are subject to abuse from an intimate partner. In this project, I use a qualitative approach to explore the relationship between women's experiences with battering, work and welfare use.I interviewed 20 women enrolled in a Work First program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These women are transitioning from welfare into the paid workforce. I found that many of these women enjoyed the social and financial benefits of paid employment. Women generally view work as beneficial for their families and believe it will afford them greater opportunities and allow them to be good role models for their children. Unfortunately, for all of these women, abuse complicates their journey. For some, work means an escape from violence at home. For others, abuse at home is an insurmountable obstacle to work. Understanding what work and welfare mean to them and the hurdles these women must overcome is critical to assisting them in their quest to break the cycle of dependency on the state or men. We must be sensitive to the variations in women's experiences with welfare and dispel the myths regarding broad stereotypes that doom all poor women and their children to a stigmatized existence.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ficco, Danielle
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBrush, Lisa Dlbrush@pitt.eduLBRUSH
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Committee MemberBlee, Kathleen Mkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberPorter, Maureenmporter@pitt.eduMPORTER
Date: 19 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 29 June 2007
Approval Date: 19 September 2007
Submission Date: 22 July 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: abuse; dependency; gender; meanings; partner violence; TANF; welfare; work; work requirements
Other ID:, etd-07222007-143006
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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