Custodial Parents Living in Poverty
Story Behind the Numbers - Child Support Fact Sheet #3
Last Reviewed: June 30, 2015
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This fact sheet focuses on data reported in a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2011. The data reported are estimated based on a biennial survey of custodial parents, the Child Support Supplement to the Current Population Survey, March/April 2012, co-sponsored by the Office of Child Support Enforcement.
The proportion of custodial parents living below poverty line continues to increase in 2011. The report found that 4.2 million custodial parents lived in poverty in 2011, representing 29 percent of all custodial parents, about twice the poverty rate for the total population. These statistics reinforce the essential role that child support services can play in helping low-income families, especially during an economic downturn. Parents in the child support program tend to have lower incomes than those who do not receive child support services and are particularly vulnerable to economic downturns. Because of their relatively low incomes, when families in the child support program receive child support, it represents a larger percent of their family income than it does for custodial families outside of the program.
While we have very detailed information on the IV-D caseload, there is no national source of information for total (IV-D and non-IV-D) child support recipients and total amount of child support received. We rely on nationally representative surveys such as this one to provide information on the total child support population. It is important to note that this survey includes both IV-D and non-IV-D families, but does not include households where children are living with someone other than their biological parent (e.g. aunt, uncle, grandparents).
- Custodial Parents Living in Poverty.pdf (534.92 KB)