While “Displaced Homemaker” may have fallen out of regular use, the women and men whose lives are defined by that antiquated term are still with us. These people have not been fully employed for years, and many of them have been especially hard hit by the great recession. The NC Senate’s budget eliminates funding for displaced homemaker programs will have a devastating impact on the ability of Compass Center and programs like ours in 34 other counties across North Carolina to provide services that help them get reintegrated into our economy.
Who are displaced homemakers? Last year 5,790 individuals received training through North Carolina’s Displaced Homemaker Programs. That training helped them learn job skills, achieve financial literacy, and work toward community college certification, all skills necessary to move them from dependence to independence. They include the persistently underemployed, a category where NC has the sad distinction of ranking fourth in the nation.
Displaced homemakers include Irene, whose husband died suddenly in his mid-50s, forcing her to relocate her home and re-start her career in order to fund college for her teenage son. And Linda, who was downsized from her corporate job and needs new skills to succeed in the new economy. They also include John, whose several part-time jobs together don’t produce enough income for his family.
These and other individuals look to displaced homemaker programs, more commonly understood as workforce development programs, for case management, career services, and other resources and support to help them successfully re-enter the workforce. They learn the skills to land jobs, support their families, and contribute tax revenue to North Carolina’s economy.
The Senate’s budget redirects monies from Divorce Filing Fees, which has funded Displaced Homemaker Programs, to the Domestic Violence Fund. The new legislation does not require workforce development services be provided by domestic violence programs.
If the NC House does not move to reinstate the monies, the impact will be stark:
• 35 existing Displaced Homemaker programs will be eliminated.
• Unemployed and dislocated workers will have far fewer workforce development programs to help them access the skills needed to reenter the workforce
• Domestic violence services, while important, are targeted to victim assistance and awareness programs.
• By definition, not all displaced homemakers are domestic violence victims, thus many “displaced homemakers” will lose vital workforce development services with the elimination of DH programs.