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Two New Publications Regarding Child Support Services for Incarcerated/Released NCPs

DCL-06-31

Published: September 29, 2006
Information About:
Other Public Partners, Courts, Workforce/Labor, State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Family Services & Referrals, Incarceration/Prisoner Reentry
Types:
Policy, Dear Colleague Letters (DCL)

DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER

DCL-06-31

ATTACHMENT: Working with Incarcerated and Released Parents: Lessons from OCSE Grants and State Programs
Incarceration, Reentry and Child Support Issues: National and State Research Overview

DATE: September 29, 2006

TO: ALL STATE AND TRIBAL IV-D DIRECTORS

RE: Two New Publications Regarding Child Support Services for Incarcerated/Released Noncustodial Parents

Dear Colleague:

I’m very happy to announce two new publications dealing with the topic of incarcerated/released parents – One is “Working with Incarcerated and Released Parents: Lessons from OCSE Grants and State Programs, A Resource Guide” and the other is “Incarceration, Reentry and Child Support Issues: National and State Research Overview.”

The attached Resource Guide provides highlights of ten OCSE funded Section 1115 and Special Improvement Project (SIP) demonstration grants as well as some state and local CSE agency projects that address issues related to incarceration and child support over the past several years. The Resource Guide Appendices include a sample memorandum of understanding, modification request forms, outreach materials and regulations to help you adapt promising practices in your jurisdictions. The attached Research Report presents a synopsis of key reentry research from many sources including Bureau of Justice Statistics, Urban Institute and the Vera Institute of Justice. It provides a national overview of several collaborative efforts which address the array of problems of incarceration and reentry for families and children.

There has been growing awareness over the past few years of the need to provide services to this special population as reflected by strategies in the FY 2005-09 National Child Support Enforcement Strategic Plan.

There are four key reasons why child support agencies should be providing services to incarcerated/released noncustodial parents.

  • One is the large number of parents in the child support caseload with a criminal background. More than 650,000 people are released from state and federal prisons each year. The majority of inmates in state and federal prisons are parents with children under the age of 18, and many of them have formal child support obligations.
  • The children of incarcerated/released parents are more likely to become recipients of public assistance and are vulnerable to a variety of negative outcomes including a greater likelihood of: failing in school, exhibiting behavioral problems and becoming involved with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
  • These parents are accessible in prison settings and respond positively to outreach efforts by child support personnel. Research shows that incarcerated noncustodial parents often enter prison with current monthly obligations and arrears. But few understand that they must notify the child support agency to request a modification to reflect their change in circumstances and subsequent lack of or reduction in income.
  • Finally, the growth in child support arrears exceeded $107 billion in FY 2005. While there is no national study showing the portion of arrears held by incarcerated/released noncustodial parents, state studies (Colorado and Massachusetts) suggest it is substantial (about 16 to 18 percent).

I hope you find these publications useful in your efforts to partner with the criminal justice system and provide services to incarcerated and released noncustodial parents in order to help reverse the negative outcomes for the parents and children we serve. I also encourage you to share these publications with community and faith-based organizations in your states. Both publications are also accessible via our website. If you would like any additional information, please contact Susan Greenblatt, Deputy Director, Division of State, Tribal and Local Assistance, OCSE at 202-401-4849.

Sincerely,

Margot Bean
Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement

cc: Regional Program Managers
ACF Regional Administrators