Tag Archives: Bubble Chart

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, www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css.

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:  http://www.healthcare.gov/


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Spreading the Message on Our Commitment to Fatherhood

father and babyThe child support program is one of the few government programs that systematically reach men, and the only one to do so in their roles as fathers. Because the program serves so many children—a quarter of all children and half of all poor children—and both their parents throughout childhood, it is uniquely positioned to connect men to a range of resources to help them be the fathers they want to be.

Across the country, child support programs are finding innovative new ways to help fathers provide for their children. State and local child support agencies have engaged in outreach, referral, case management and other activities in partnership with fatherhood, workforce, veterans, reentry, and asset-building programs to increase the ability of parents to support their children. They are working to engage fathers in the lives of their children, to increase noncustodial parent employment, to improve family relationships, and to address family violence prevention. 

OCSE Updated Bubble ChartThe OCSE “bubble chart” promotes the child support program’s vision for a more holistic family-centered approach to service delivery. Our collaborations with other public agencies and community organizations in the six domains of the bubble chart are enhancing the success of our program’s fundamental mission to reinforce the responsibility of parents to support their children when they live apart and to encourage fathers and mothers to be involved in their children’s lives.

OCSE reconfirms our commitment to fatherhood issues through participation in a range of federal interagency initiatives, including six listed on page 3 in the June Child Support Report.

This month, the Child Support Report also brings you voices of fathers—leaders of three national organizations—who discuss their views on fatherhood. Four other articles look at research and state perspectives about unwed parents in our program. Several highlight the need for more services that target fathers across the country and point out efforts that are showing signs of success. All of the articles—plus another (on page 8) about a North Carolina county partnership with the local library—demonstrate the child support program’s obligation to speak out about our commitment to fatherhood issues.

We have a long way to go, but our collaborative work at every level of government and with community organizations strengthens our important message that the child support program is here to help parents, children, and families.

Happy Father’s Day to all!

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‘Bubble Chart’ Mirrors Child Support Work Nationwide

Many of you have seen OCSE’s “bubble chart,” a simple picture of the innovative partnerships and initiatives that state, county, and tribal child support programs have developed to help parents improve their ability and willingness to support their children. Through collaborations with courts, workforce agencies, prisons, fatherhood programs, domestic violence coalitions, and faith-based and community organizations, we have begun to put the bubble chart in action.

Our automated enforcement strategies work well for most parents in our caseload—the 75 percent or so of parents who are regularly employed or have assets. Most child support is collected from noncustodial parents through automatic employer payroll withholding (70 percent). Other collection methods include withholding federal and state income tax refunds and unemployment benefits, bank account seizures, denying passports, and denying or revoking driver’s and professional licenses. OCSE maintains the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS), including web-based portals that operate applications, such as Query Interstate Cases for Kids (QUICK), to simplify interstate data exchanges and exchanges between states and employers.

However, traditional enforcement tools have been less effective for the approximately 25 percent of parents who owe child support but have a limited ability to pay. We know from research that 70 percent of unpaid child support debt is owed by parents earning no or low-reported income. A growing body of research suggests that reduced orders and debt balances can improve employment and child support outcomes.

The idea behind the bubble chart has slowly taken root within the child support community over the past decade: turning nonpayers into paying parents. Sometimes the most effective strategy to increase support for a child is to connect a father to a job. The bubble chart encourages child support programs to intervene early to address the underlying reasons for nonsupport—whether it is unemployment, parental conflict, or disengagement. By broadening our strategies and partnering with other programs, we can do more to assure that parents provide their children with financial and emotional support throughout childhood.

I believe the bubble chart represents the direction that child support professionals are leading the program—toward a more family-centered approach to delivering child support services. Despite budget constraints, we have a lot to look forward to as we continue to innovate and to put families first.

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