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
Many years ago (in fact, only a few years after Congress authorized the IV-D program), I was a mom on my own with two small children to feed. I did not receive child support, and was the sole breadwinner in our family. I was a full-time waitress then, receiving a very small paycheck. To get by, we had to rely on my tips. Every night, my sons and I counted out the dollar bills and rolled the dimes and nickels. I set aside the quarters for the commercial washer and dryer in my apartment building. I used the pennies for bus fare, to the annoyance of those boarding the bus behind me.
So, I worked for tips. I hoped that customers would like my service well enough to give me a good tip. What I quickly learned was that the better my customer service, the better my tips — most of the time. This is what I learned about customer service: … Read More: Everything I learned about customer service, I learned while I was a waitress
We celebrated a major milestone at the end of the fiscal year when President Obama signed new legislation that will have lasting impacts on several key areas of the child support program. You’ll see an outline of these key areas in the November/December Child Support Report (page 2), and we’ll feature several articles in future editions.
At a glance, the legislation involves six child support-related components. The law:
- Expands the Hague Treaty to strengthen our international case processing efforts.
- Gives Indian tribes access to important child support data systems.
- Encourages parenting time arrangements as part of child support order establishment.
- Requires new standards for data interoperability – or data sharing – among states.
- Requires mandatory electronic income withholding. This will potentially save states’ and employers’ time, resources, and postage – and get child support to families more quickly.
- Requires OCSE to submit a major report to Congress in June 2015.
… Read More: Plans underway to fulfill milestone legislation
Domestic violence discussions were widespread on social media in September because of events in the news. #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft were top trending Twitter topics as survivors of family violence used the hashtags to tweet their stories. As a result, calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and renewed interest in employee training to address domestic violence increased dramatically.
Domestic violence has long been important to the child support community. Child support income is critical for most parents who are survivors of domestic violence, but child support establishment and enforcement can increase the risk of abuse. As child support professionals, we are responsible for ensuring that survivors of domestic violence receive child support safely and confidentially. While the topic for this blog is timely because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this is an every-month concern for child support agencies and other organizations. For example, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project (@NationalDVAM) tweets about conversations and resources continuously throughout the year.
… Read More: Our focus on domestic violence survivors