Herstory | Executive Board

Displaced Homemakers Network of New Jersey, Inc.

Group of womenIn 1983, a group of service providers, representing nine Displaced Homemakers centers, met to discuss issues facing Displaced Homemakers and the centers. The funding of these centers by the Department of Education and the Department of Labor was being threatened. Recalling the slogan of "foremother," Tish Sommers, "Don't agonize; organize," we organized. Centers met with the Division on Women. We held meetings. We wrote and approved bylaws. A nominating committee presented the slate of officers. In January 1984, the first meeting of the Displaced Homemakers Network of New Jersey was held at the Lawrenceville Public Library in June 1984, New Jersey hosted its first three-day Region II Conference at Douglass College. In 1990, the Network incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. After less than five years, the Displaced Homemakers Network of New Jersey, Inc. succeeded in its effort to have legislation passed to increase the divorce filing fee by $25. In June 1993, Governor Florio signed this legislation into law. It generates approximately $600,000 annually for Displaced Homemakers programs.

With the help and hard work of the Displaced Homemakers Network of New Jersey, Inc., the line item was increased from $985,000 to $1,475,000 in fiscal year 2001. These same women worked to increase the line item again from $985,000 to $1,420,000 for the fiscal year 2002.

Displaced Homemakers Centers' History

Displaced homemakers are women who have lost their primary source of income due to divorce, separation, death or disability of a spouse and therefore must obtain or upgrade their skills for transition into the paid labor market. Included are women who are moving from public assistance to work. They come from a wide range of age, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. New Jersey has more than 750,000 Displaced Homemakers between the ages of 30 and 66, and ranks 8th in the number of Displaced Homemakers in the nation. In the 1970s, the national divorce rate rose rapidly, as reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Women who had worked primarily in the home, raising a family, suddenly faced the daunting task of obtaining or updating skills and re-entering the workforce. In 1979, the New Jersey Displaced Homemakers Act was signed into law by then governor, Brendan Byrne. The Act did not appropriate funding, but mandated that action be taken to address the issue of Displaced Homemakers.

In 1982, the Vocational Division of the New Jersey Department of Education appropriated startup funds for six Displaced Homemakers centers. Six pilot centers were established across the state to provide counseling and training, and to address the barriers faced by these women.

The Displaced Homemakers Centers provide outreach, intake and orientation, personal and group counseling, assessment and testing, career and educational programs, computer training, life skills development, skills training, pre-employment preparation, supportive services, English as a second language, referrals and job placement. There are currently 15 centers in New Jersey's 21 counties.

The centers, with their varied services, are designed to enhance the employability and earnings of women and impact of the quality of their lives and those of their families. Center coordinators/directors draw on a wide range of contact within their towns, cities, and counties to help individuals find the assistance they need.

With supportive counseling and training, a Displaced Homemakers is assisted in reaching her full potential. She can gain a heightened awareness of her untapped talents, greater confidence in her own abilities and new skills to meet the challenges of the labor market. With these improvements, she gains economic and emotional self-sufficiency for herself and her children.

On January 28, 2013, Governor Chris Christie signed a bipartisan resolution into law to designate May as Displaced Homemakers Awareness month.

New Jersey Department of Children and Families Division on Women

In 1974, the New Jersey Division on Women (DOW) was established as a pioneering state agency for women's advocacy throughout the state. Today, DOW is proud to continue the tradition of advocating for women's rights and opportunities through the funding of organizations, agencies and programs that provide a variety of services to the women of New Jersey. DOW's dedicated staff develops, promotes, and expands women's rights in the areas of poverty and welfare, employment and wages, work and family, the economic and social aspects of healthcare, violence against women, and women's civic and political participation in their communities.

Through DOW's work in program development, research policy analysis and the advancement of public discussion of issues critical to women, DOW fosters programs and services that empower the women of New Jersey.

The mission of the NJ DOW is to create, promote and expand the rights and opportunities for all women in the State of New Jersey. The Division conducts research leading to public policy to support the development, coordination and evaluation of programs and services for women.

Currently funded through the New Jersey Department of Children and Families Division on Women, Displaced Homemakers centers seek additional funding through grants, donations, community resources, and more.

To learn more about how you can help Displaced Homemakers, click here.

Document Archive

The Quality of Life for Older Women: Older Women Living Alone. A Report by the Chairman of the Select Committee on Aging

The Displaced Homemakers: A State-of-the-Art Review

Casagrande Bill Naming May Displaced Homemakers Awareness Month Signed into Law

Displaced Homemakers Awareness Month Bill