Monthly Archives: May 2013

Health care options for families

Bubble ChartOne of the “bubbles” in the child support bubble chart is health care coverage. In identifying family-centered strategies over the last four years, I have highlighted family health care needs. Through our medical support activities, the child support program has long had the responsibility to obtain private health insurance for the children in our caseload. Now we can play a critical role in providing information to both parents about the range of available health care options—for their children and for themselves.

Later this month, OCSE plans to launch two new fact sheet series to explain child support and health care connections under the Affordable Care Act and to address promising medical child support policies and practices under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. Watch for them on our website,

Starting Oct. 1, 2013, parents will be able to choose new affordable insurance options through a new Health Insurance Marketplace. There will be one application, called the “Health Insurance Marketplace Application for Health Coverage & Help Paying Costs,” that parents can use to apply for the new Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and tax credits that will help pay for premiums. Parents may choose to use this application online, by phone, by mail, or on paper. In-person counselors and a toll-free phone line will be available to help them through every step of the process.

No matter what state they live in, families can get help as they apply for and choose new insurance options. Some states are setting up a state-based Marketplace; other states will work with the federal government in a State Partnership Marketplace; and the remaining states will have a federally facilitated Marketplace.

The Affordable Care Act authorizes states to expand Medicaid to adults under age 65 with income of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. This is approximately $15,280 for a single adult in 2013. The Act provides unprecedented federal funding for these states—the federal government will pay for 100 percent of the cost of coverage for newly eligible individuals through 2016, and pay no less than 90 percent of the cost subsequently.

No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Health insurance helps pay these costs. Help families find out how insurance works—and why it’s so important to have. Go to:


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Child support program engages veteran and military families

Girl hugging man in military uniformMay highlights veterans and military families. In addition to National Military Appreciation Month, May hosts Armed Forces Day (May 18) and of course Memorial Day (the 27th).  Also, May 10 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

As child support workers, we have an obligation to work with families at their most vulnerable. We cannot repay the sacrifice that our service men and women and their families make for our country, but for many reasons, the child support program must pay special and well-deserved attention to military members, veterans, and their families. Here are some of those reasons:

  • About 50 percent of active duty members and 70 percent of Reserve and National Guard members are parents. See the OCSE fact sheet “Military Services and Child Support Partnerships.”
  • About 6 percent of the national child support caseload involves a veteran or a active military member.
  • Military families face extra challenges with multiple deployments and a higher divorce rate than the rest of the population.
  • A massive military drawdown by the Pentagon is set to begin this August.
  • Military members transitioning to veteran status often face a decrease in pay and a significant risk of unemployment.
  • Cases involving veteran parents are more likely to be interstate cases that require more attention.
  • Veteran noncustodial parents are likely to have significantly higher arrears—27 percent higher on average. See the OCSE fact sheet “Child Support Participation in Stand Down Events.”

In the coming months, OCSE will work with our partners at state, tribal, and local agencies, many of whom are already leading the way in outreach to military families. We plan to spread the word about their innovative services. We also plan to strengthen communication, systems, and policy links between child support and the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to support collaborations that add real value at the state and local levels.

Resources to help you

On OCSE’s Military & Veterans webpage, you can find fact sheets and other resources to help you work with veteran and military families.  Here are a few:

A Handbook for Military Families: Helping You with Child Support – Our new handbook answers questions for both custodial and noncustodial parents on topics such as paternity establishment, child support, access and visitation, and child custody. While valuable for military families, the handbook is also useful to child support caseworkers and supervisors, as well as  military commanders.

Working with the Military on Child Support Matters – Look for an update this summer. We regularly hear from caseworkers that this resource serves as an indispensible desk guide on military issues surrounding a child support case.

A Child Support-VA Collaboration Toolkit – Look for our assessment later this year of nine pilot projects across the country that are helping veterans who are homeless. Through a partnership between OCSE, the VA, and the American Bar Association, the pilot projects are helping homeless veterans gain permanent housing through assistance with modifying child support orders and reducing arrears.

I’m particularly excited about our Veteran and Military Liaison Network. The network brings together staff from the state and local child support community to explore ways we can better serve those who have so proudly served us. Its members are connecting with each other smoothing the way for cases involving veterans and military families. For more information on the network or any other aspect of our work with veterans and military families, please contact Thom Campbell at


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