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Research Findings on Automated Cost-of-Living Adjustments in Minnesota, New York and Vermont

DCL-01-22

Published: May 2, 2001
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Case Management, Review and Modification
Types:
Policy, Dear Colleague Letters (DCL), Research & Data, HHS/ACF/OCSE Research

DCL-01-22

May 2, 2001

TO: ALL IV-D DIRECTORS

Re: Dissemination of Research Findings on Automated Cost-of-Living Adjustments of Child Support Orders in Minnesota, New York and Vermont.

Dear Colleague:

This memorandum disseminates the executive summary of the "Automated Cost-of-Living Adjustments of Child Support Orders in Three States" study funded by the Office of Child Support Enforcement. A brief summary of the report's major findings appears below:

Automated Cost-of-Living Adjustments of Child Support Orders in Three States (The Lewin Group with ECONorthwest)

1. COLAs serve a different purpose than traditional review and modification and cannot correct an inappropriate order or a change in circumstances. Having a COLA policy in place does not mean that traditional reviews and adjustments will not occur or are not necessary.

2. COLA appeals are rare. The low COLA appeal rate is driven by the small size of the adjustment, the cost and effort involved in the appeal, and the non-custodial parent's understanding, or lack thereof, of the process.

3. COLA processes are inexpensive to implement and operate. COLA processes are automated and require very few labor resources.

4. COLA policies are generally popular among State staff and custodial parents.

5. Lack of income data may render infeasible more sophisticated efforts to automate modifications

6. Guideline complexity hinders automated modifications.

If you have questions or would like to have the full report, please contact the OCSE Division of Planning, Evaluation, and Research.

Sincerely,

Frank Fuentes
Acting Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement