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HHS/ACF Homelessness Initiative


Published: April 25, 2008


DATE: April 25, 2008


RE: HHS/ACF Homelessness Initiative

Dear Colleague:

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) supports the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness. This initiative is part of the Administration’s continuing commitment to reduce and end homelessness in the nation, as outlined in the broader HHS Strategic Plan on this subject.

The goals of the HHS Strategic Plan are: 1) Prevent episodes of homelessness within the HHS clientele, including individuals and families; 2) Help eligible, homeless individuals and families receive health and social services; 3) Empower our State and community partners to improve their responses to individuals and families experiencing homelessness; and 4) Develop an approach to track Departmental progress in preventing, reducing and ending homelessness for the HHS clientele. The full plan is available at http://www.hhs.gov/homeless/

No single program can solve the growing and complex problem of homelessness. Ending homelessness requires housing combined with the types of services supported by HHS programs. Very often, persons experiencing homelessness may be eligible for child support enforcement services, which can make a big difference in their lives.

This year, OCSE has committed to (1) strengthen outreach activities by encouraging States to work closely with homeless shelters to identify noncustodial and custodial parents with child support issues; and (2) urge States to offer debit cards as a means of transmitting child support payments to families. As of March 2008, 41 States have implemented a debit card process.

While we applaud the efforts you have already begun, there is more to do. You may wish to contact potential partners in your area. In January 2003, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness entered into a National Partnership with 100 Mayors by creating 10-Year Plans to end chronic homelessness. Today, over 325 Mayors and County officials have committed to 10-Year Plans. Also, 20 Federal agencies, 53 Governors of States and territories and the private sector have made commitments.

Ongoing efforts are leading to good results. In November 2007, the Federal government released national data showing an 11.5% decline in the number of chronically homeless adults who live on the streets or in emergency shelters. According to the report, the number of chronically homeless persons fell from 175,914 in January 2005 to 155,623 in January 2006.

We urge you to support OCSE’s initiatives and to work with other programs and agencies as well as the private sector to serve the needs of homeless persons and families as they struggle to meet their financial responsibilities. If you have best practices or success stories to share, please send them to Toni Baker at tbaker@acf.hhs.gov.

Thank you for your support in this critical area.


Margot Bean
Office of Child Support Enforcement

Cc: OCSE Regional Program Managers

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