The start of a new year is a good time to look back. We have been through a lot of changes in the past seven years. Let’s start with some of the sobering ones.
The economic downturn affected parent earnings and child support program funding alike. During the height of the recession, support collected through income withholding declined by 3 percent, while support collected from unemployment insurance tripled between 2008 and 2010.
At the same time, the child support program experienced significant decreases in program funding and staffing levels. Our peak funding year was 2008 — before the recession — when program expenditures were $5.87 billion in nominal dollars. Since then, funding has declined over 3 percent to $5.69 billion in 2014. Structural labor market changes, increasingly complex families, and reduced program resources have all taken their toll.
… Read More: Reflecting on our accomplishments
This year is the child support program’s 40th anniversary. For four decades, the program has fostered a culture of performance, innovation, and change. When I talk with child support professionals across the country, I hear a strong commitment to service, a deep engagement in the daily work of the program, and a willingness to do what it takes to accomplish our mission: collecting child support for children. We are always trying to do better. I think the phrase I hear most often from child support employees is that “The work is never boring!”
And indeed, it is not, for we are in the business of helping families succeed. Change has been our constant theme. Changes in the family structure, job market, and customer demographics since 1975 have required us to steadily adapt our services to the realities of today’s diverse families. From the beginning, we’ve looked to changing technologies for more effective and efficient processing of our caseloads. But behind the technologies, behind the dollars, behind the performance numbers are real families, families struggling to make ends meet, families trying to keep it together, families who are doing their best to raise their children. … Read More: 2015 was a busy year…
In honor of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month, OCSE celebrates the growth and success of tribal child support programs.
Today, one in ten federally recognized tribes — 59 out of 566 — operate comprehensive child support programs. Another four tribal programs are in the start-up phase. Many tribes have incorporated traditional practices into a holistic tribal family-centered service delivery model. … Read More: Celebrating the growth and success of tribal child support programs in honor of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We know that domestic violence is an every month concern for child support agencies, but October provides an extra reminder of the critical role safe access to child support services plays for survivors and their families. In the September 2015 Child Support Report, we feature a number of articles addressing the need for domestic violence safeguards and resources for parents receiving child support services.
In talking with child support professionals over the past year about the connection between child support and domestic violence, I’ve consistently heard the following theme: “We know domestic violence is a huge issue for families in our caseload and we want to do more to enhance safe access to child support, but we’re not really sure where to start.” Just like one size doesn’t fit all parents when it comes to delivering child support services, there’s not one approach to developing a comprehensive response to domestic violence. With that in mind, OCSE has developed new resources for child support agencies to use as a roadmap for starting the process of enhancing safe access to child support. These resources draw on the experiences of your peers in other states and jurisdictions. … Read More: Domestic violence survivors in the case load
40th Anniversary Infographic
This year is the 40th anniversary of the national child support program. Check out our 40th Anniversary infographic on our website to see some of the ways we’ve changed!
Thanks primarily to technology and proactive income withholding, our collections have increased from less than $1 billion to $28 billion, and our cost-effectiveness ratio has increased from $3.25 to $5.25 over the past four decades. Today, 75 percent of collections are made through payroll deductions. By the end of the year, almost all child support programs will use our centralized electronic income withholding (e-IWO) process through OCSE’s child support portal, under new legislation enacted by the Congress last fall. … Read More: 40 years of progress: Technology and innovation
As I travel and talk with caseworkers around the country, I hear your commitment and passion for our program mission, and see your hard work day in and day out to collect child support for children. The child support program has the reputation for being one of the best run programs in government. What we are all after is compliance with support obligations. When support payments come in regularly, custodial parents can budget for the money so there isn’t a household crisis every month. … Read More: Improving compliance through respect and procedural fairness
We’re always looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of our child support program, particularly in three major areas, modernizing technology, increasing procedural fairness, and gathering evidence of programs that work. In honor of Father’s Day, our June Child Support Report focuses on programs and initiatives that help fathers deepen their financial and emotional commitments to their children.
For more than 20 years, OCSE has been involved in efforts to secure consistent support for children through programs to improve parental responsibility and increase child support collections. Ongoing research and evaluation efforts are designed to yield the evidence required for developing and replicating program models.
… Read More: Honoring dads on Father’s Day
In the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014, Congress asked my office, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, to submit a report to Congress that addresses the effectiveness of state child support programs. As part of our outreach to parents to inform the report, we asked custodial and noncustodial parents and adult children who grew up in a separated family to tell us their child support stories. To date, we have heard directly from over a thousand parents and children. We are grateful that they took the time to talk with us. Their voices have informed and moved us. Here are excerpted comments from a few of the adult children who shared their experiences with us: … Read More: Thank you for sharing your child support stories
A son and daughter visit their incarcerated dad–part of Sesame Street’s Little Children: Big Challenges Incarceration initiative © 2013 Sesame Workshop.
Millions of children in this country have grown up with a parent in prison. One in two state prisoners are parents. The data reflect strong racial disparities. One in three black men can expect to go to prison during their lifetime. One in four black children born in 1990 had a parent in jail or prison by the time the child was 14 years old — more than double the rate of black children born in 1978, about the time when our program was getting started.
Many experts believe that the loss of a parent due to incarceration is more complicated and painful for a child than other losses. Repeated incarceration destroys all but the strongest family relationships. Most children love their parents, miss their parents, want their parents to come home, and mourn when they are gone. Helping parents and children overcome stigma and maintain contact during incarceration can help. But a child who has lost a parent to prison may never fully get over it.
… Read More: “My father is in prison”: The importance of child support and justice partnerships
The period to submit your stories for the Report to Congress is now closed. Thanks to those who sent in information. If you would still like to leave general comments, you can do so below.
The November-December 2014 Child Support Report gave you an overview of how new legislation, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183), affects the child support program. One particular provision requires us to draft a Report to Congress to recommend cost-effective program improvements, address effectiveness and performance, and outline the future of the child support program.
Please tell me your story. Whether you are a mom or a dad, or whether you grew up living apart from a parent, I want to hear from you. We will draw from these real-life experiences for our Report to Congress.
My story is that I left home early. I was 17 and pregnant when I got married and 27 when I divorced. I finished high school, but dropped out of community college. I had two kids and a desire to give them a better life. … Read More: My Child Support Story