The Displaced Homemaker Act

The Displaced Homemakers Self-Sufficiency Assistance Act was signed into law in 1990 to help homemakers gain new skills to get into the workforce. As of 1990 there were 15.6 million displaced homemakers. Two out of every three new entrants to the workforce in the 1990s were women, according to the act’s statement of purpose, and they needed to learn new skills to fill jobs that had higher skill levels than jobs needed in the past.

Definition of and Qualifications for a Displaced Homemaker

A displaced homemaker is a person who works for her family at home but does not earn a paycheck. To benefit from the act, the displaced homemaker must be unemployed or underemployed and is having difficulty finding or upgrading a job. The other criteria the displaced homemaker must meet is that she has to have lost or will soon lose income assistance. Income assistance can be public assistance if she has children or the income of another family member.

State-Level Involvement

The act provides assistance to states to provide coordination and referral services, support service assistance and program and technical assistance to displaced homemakers. To do that, the governor of each state designates a state administrative entity to make services available through eligible service providers. The state administrative entity also develops an annual plan to use the program funds and set criteria for approving and monitoring eligible service providers.


For years when the funding for displaced homemakers exceeds $25 million, the available funds will be used to make state grants allocated on a state population basis. When the funding is less than $25 million, grants will be offered to state service providers on a competitive basis. Five percent of the funding must be used for training and technical assistance. The state grants can be used for programs that provide special services for displaced homemakers who are from rural areas, are minorities or who are 40 years old or older. The funding also can be used for nontraditional training or self-employment training.

Eligible Service Providers

Eligible service providers receive grants to provide education and training-related and support services to displaced homemakers. Eligible service providers include public agencies and nonprofit, community-based organizations. Grant funding will be allotted on a competitive basis for programs that provide career counseling, assessment, testing and evaluation, pre-employment services, basic skills, literacy and bilingual training, recruitment and outreach, job development and placement, followup services and life skills development. Service providers can use no more than 20 percent of the allocated funds for administrative costs.