New Law Will Help Facilitate Financial Independence for Pregnant Women
In a hugely positive development for pregnant women – especially victims of domestic violence – on September 26, 2014 Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1579, known as the Healthy Babies Act.
The Act allows pregnant women to obtain CalWORKs benefits as early as the second trimester of pregnancy. CalWORKs provides income and employment opportunities which help keep pregnant women financially independent. Currently, CalWORKs assistance is not available until the third trimester of pregnancy.
Early access to assistance can help mitigate financial pressures and ensure better health outcomes for pregnant women and their infants. In fact, domestic violence is the most common health problem among pregnant women – one in six report physical or sexual abuse during pregnancy.
CalWORKs is a lifeline to safety for abuse survivors. According to the California Institute of Mental Health, eighteen percent of CalWORKs applicants apply for CalWORKs to escape abuse. Allowing pregnant women access to this resource earlier in their pregnancies will help low-income survivors of violence and their children remain independent, healthy and safe.
The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center co-sponsored the Healthy Babies Act.