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New Publication Analyzes Participation by Minorities in the Child Support Program

DCL-07-43

Published: December 10, 2007
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Types:
Policy, Dear Colleague Letters (DCL), Research & Data, HHS/ACF/OCSE Research

DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER

DCL-07-43

ATTACHMENT: Minority Families and Child Support - Data Analysis

DATE: December 10, 2007

TO: STATE AND TRIBAL IV-D DIRECTORS

RE: New Publication Analyzes Participation by Minorities in the Child Support Enforcement Program

Dear Colleague:

I am pleased to provide you with a copy of a new report entitled "Minority Families and Child Support," prepared under contract to the Office of Child Support Enforcement by Spectrum Consulting.

This study compares the participation of minorities in the Child Support Enforcement program in recent years using a Census Bureau national survey: "Current Population Survey-Child Support Supplement." The data were combined over the years in order to achieve sufficient sample sizes.

In general, child support participation by minorities lags significantly behind Whites. Comparable pooled data from 1994 to 2002 show that child support orders were established for 66 percent of eligible Whites, compared with rates of 43 percent for African Americans, 43 percent for Hispanics, 51 percent for Native Americans, and 46 percent for Asian Americans. In terms of compliance (e.g., payment as a percent of the child support order), Whites paid 62 percent of the amount owed, African Americans paid 44 percent, Hispanics paid 53 percent, Native Americans paid 52 percent, and Asian Americans paid 58 percent.

Analysis shows that the critical variable for these differences was the high rate of un-married births and separations as opposed to divorced or remarried status by minorities.

Recently, child support participation differences between Whites and African Americans have narrowed significantly. African-American order rates increased from 31 percent in 1990 to 47 percent by 2002, while White rates have stabilized or declined. By 2002, more African-American mothers had orders than those that did not.

This study also analyzed data from Princeton University's "Fragile Family and Child Wellbeing Study" of 2000 urban unwed mothers in the third year after an unwed birth. Findings indicate that paternity establishment rates are comparable at 85 percent for unwed Whites, 80 percent for unwed African Americans, and 77 percent for unwed Hispanics.

Child support order rates are comparable for unwed Whites and African Americans at 44 percent for unwed Whites and 38 percent for unwed African Americans. Unwed Hispanics lagged at a 32-percent rate. This is due primarily to socioeconomic disadvantages for unwed Hispanics. It is significant that the child support order establishment rate was much lower than the paternity establishment rate. Order rates for the unwed fragile families are also lower than aggregate national order establishment rates (56 percent).

The compliance or proportion of an order paid by unwed fragile families approximated aggregate national levels (57 percent). The proportion of the child support order paid was comparable for unwed Whites and Hispanics at 54 percent. Unwed African Americans, however, only paid 39 percent of the amount due; this was only partially explained by socioeconomic factors.

It is my hope that this report will encourage and enable you to formulate appropriate strategies for improving child support for minority families.

Sincerely,

Margot Bean
Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement

Enclosure

cc: OCSE Regional Program Managers