Tag Archives: Research

Child support performance has never been stronger

Blue line graph on a yellow backgroundThe numbers are in, and I am very pleased to report to you that 2015 represents a new high water mark in child support program performance.  Congratulations to all of you for your resilience and hard work!  We have come through the economic downturn stronger than ever.

The child support program continues to be highly effective for millions of children and their families, reducing child poverty and promoting family self-sufficiency. In 2015, we provided child support services for 16 million children, more than 1 in 5 children nationwide, along with 22 million parents and caregivers. According to 2013 Census Bureau data, child support was 41 percent of the income of poor families that receive it, up from 29 percent in 1997.

Paternity, support order establishment, current collection, and arrears collection rates have never been higher, while cost-effectiveness remains high at $5.26 collected for every $1.00 spent.

And the really exciting news is that as states have begun to implement family-centered strategies on a broader scale, the current collection rate — which measures support order compliance and regular payments — is starting to rise. The last time we saw the current collection rate move this much was in the early 2000s. We also see an uptick in the arrears collection rate.

Over the past decade, we have made progress on every measure. Here are our FY 2015 national results:

  • We collected almost $29 billion in IV-D cases receiving child support services, including over $50 million in tribal child support collections, reflecting the growth of the tribal child support program. In 2006, we collected $24 billion.
  • We collected an additional $4 billion in payments made through income withholding orders for child support cases that did not receive child support services.
  • The IV-D paternity establishment percentage was 100 percent and the statewide Paternity Establishment Percentage was 95 percent, maintaining the high numbers from 2006.
  • 86 percent of cases had a child support order. In 2006, the support order rate was 77 percent.
  • We collected 65 percent of current support. In 2006, it was 60 percent.
  • We collected 64 percent in arrears cases. In 2006, it was 61 percent.
  • Our cost effectiveness rate of $5.26 compares to $4.58 in 2006.
  • Our collections increased by nearly 20 percent since 2006, while our expenditures increased by 3 percent.

The data say we are headed in the right direction. I am proud of your commitment to strengthen and improve our program.  Because of you, more families have what they need to make ends meet and more children have what they need most — parents who put them first.

Learn about more our improving performance measures in the July 2016 edition of the Child Support Report.

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How the President’s FY 2017 Budget Strengthens Child Support

Graphic of White House with the words "Administration's FY2017 budget " on it.I am pleased to describe the child support-related legislative proposals included in the Administration’s FY 2017 Budget. We are renewing a number of prior proposals for efforts to ensure that children benefit when support is paid, promote access and visitation, improve program efficiency, and for dedicated research funding. We’re adding new proposals to further strengthen enforcement. And, this year, we’re proposing a Child Support Technology Fund to promote the replacement of aging child support systems.

Below are the six areas of legislative proposals related to child support. These summaries offer a quick read on the proposals; for more details, see our FY 2017 Budget fact sheet. It is a supplement at the end of the February-March 2015 Child Support Report (CSR).

Child Support Technology Fund — to promote the replacement of aging child support systems to increase system security, efficiency, and integrity

Child Support Research Fund — to spark research, build the child support evidence base, and tailor the appropriate child support enforcement tools for each family

Strengthening Establishment and Enforcement — to increase collections and program efficiency

Child Support and Fatherhood Initiative — to encourage noncustodial parents to support their children and play an active role in their lives; to build on the family distribution reforms included in the 1996 and 2006 statutes; to encourage states to pass through child support collections to TANF families so that when parents pay child support, their children benefit; to support safe increased access and visitation services and integrating these services into the core child support program to improve collections and parent-child relationships and outcomes for children

Medicaid and Child Support Proposals — to allow states to eliminate Medicaid’s requirement to assign the right to cash medical child support to the state as a condition of eligibility to reduce barriers to health care access and increase resources for the poorest families

NDNH Access Proposals — to allow certain additional programs and agencies authority to access NDNH data for program integrity, implementation, and research purposes

As we focus on the budget, in the February-March CSR, Washington and Nebraska child support offices share their insights on another important planning tool — the strategic plan. Washington shares its story on the systematic steps staff members took to develop their plan, including using a visual management tool to display progress. Nebraska staff and leaders used a roadmap analogy to describe their process in developing their strategic operations plan. We’ll continue the discussion on strategic planning in next month’s CSR.

In the meantime, we would like to hear your thoughts on the FY 2017 Budget.

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We Depend on Evidence-Based Research

Commissioner's researchData and research are engines that drive the national child support program. Data help us know whether we are on track to meet our performance goals. They help us identify the best case strategies to pursue. Research and data help us gain public support for our program and develop policies and initiatives that can effectively respond to trends in our caseload.

For example, the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Current Population Survey” shows us that the child support program’s caseload reflects societal trends in poverty, nonmarital childbearing, divorce, and families who receive public assistance. The “Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing” national survey of 5,000 newborns in hospitals, conducted by a team of researchers at Columbia and Princeton Universities, helps us understand the causes and consequences of nonmarital childbearing. This research helps us to better understand the living situations of our customers.

Research helped us understand why noncustodial parents’ arrears accumulate—and as a result of that research, child support professionals have developed projects to better manage these arrears. Research also taught us that we can increase support payments if we can help unwed parents negotiate access and visitation arrangements. And child support professionals have developed mediation projects that help parents put together parenting plans. Our research about undistributed collections has led to ways to reduce those amounts.

In the last 15 years, research has helped to spur the program’s shift to a broader set of family-centered strategies. We now know that the more involved the dad is emotionally, the more likely he will pay child support. We know that many fathers need services to help them understand the importance of their role as a dad. And we have learned that the child support program is uniquely positioned to reach out to low-income men through services that lead to employment and through access and visitation services.

At OCSE, we are thinking hard about ways to increase our data analysis and research opportunities to identify evidence-based practices that we should incorporate into our program. At the federal level, OCSE is developing a data warehouse to help us analyse our FPLS and administrative data. We are partnering with our Department’s research and evaluation offices, the Office of Family Assistance (which administers the TANF program), and the U.S. Department of Labor to obtain research evidence about certain workforce program models. And, through a small number of grants, we have been encouraging state child support agencies to develop partnerships with their state universities to use research to learn about more effective ways of doing business.

I look forward to further research as OCSE strengthens its partnerships—and creates new ones—with agencies at every level of government. We have the latest results about our partnership that drives the insurance match program (see page 1 in the February Child Support Report) and the passport denial program’s partnership with employers (see page 6 in the CSR).

I also look forward to seeing research evidence and other data from your states, counties, and tribal agencies. Despite tight budgets, you continue to innovate and test problem-solving solutions, for example, interactive websites to better communicate with customers (see page 4 in the CSR)—perhaps one of the most important opportunities to connect with our diverse customer caseload.

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