FreeFrom’s Testimony Leads California Oversight Commission to Recommend Living Wages for IPV Service Providers

In February 2020, FreeFrom’s Director of Systems Change Initiatives, Amy Durrence, testified before California’s Little Hoover Commission on how the state can improve its response to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

In our testimony, we argued that California must prioritize financial security for survivors in order to better respond to IPV, including by paying service providers – many of whom are survivors themselves – a living wage. Read our full written testimony here.

This month, the Commission released its full report and recommendations to the state. The report – which relies heavily on FreeFrom’s testimony – includes a formal recommendation that California “require all state-administered domestic violence grants to provide a living wage and annual cost-of-living increases to awardees.”

“It is unrealistic to expect service providers to help survivors toward financial recovery if they themselves have not experienced financial security…At a minimum, state-administered grants must provide a living wage to service providers. Not a survival wage, but a wage that allows them to live safely and healthfully in their community, obtain good health insurance, cover childcare and transportation expenses, and save for retirement.”

Little Hoover Commission Report, Jan 2021

Citing FreeFrom’s testimony, the Commission also made the following recommendations prioritizing economic security for survivors:

  • Create a one-stop financial security support program to help survivors start over;
  • Transition the Victim Compensation Board model from one that compensates survivors via reimbursements to one that offers up front real-time payments;
  • Provide survivors with compensation through the Victim Compensation Board regardless of whether they “cooperate” with law enforcement;
  • Allow survivors to use the state’s Restitution Fund to cover the cost of attorneys’ fees necessary to pursue civil cases against their harm-doers;
  • Officially recognize survivors as a group facing barriers to employment;
  • Connect survivors with state apprenticeship programs so they can earn income while completing their education or training; and
  • Make the state-administered emergency housing program more flexible for survivor needs

We are thrilled with the Little Hoover Commission’s focus on economic security for survivors, and we are committed to working with the California Legislature to make sure that these recommendations become a reality.