Office of Child Support Enforcement


Office of Child Support Enforcement

Mission Statement

OCSE’s core mission is dedicated to establishing paternity and obtaining child support in order to encourage responsible parenting, family self-sufficiency and child well-being and to recognize the essential role of both parents in supporting their children. The national child support program assures that assistance in obtaining support is available to children, through locating parents, establishing paternity, establishing and modifying support obligations, and monitoring and enforcing those obligations.

Program Description

The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement partners with federal, state, tribal, and local governments and others to promote parental responsibility so that children receive reliable support from both of their parents as they grow to adulthood.

How It Is Administered

OCSE helps child support agencies in the states and tribes develop, manage, and operate their programs effectively and according to federal law.

  • Financially support child support program operations
  • Provide grants for state Access and Visitation programs
  • Provide policy guidance and technical help
  • Conduct audits and educational programs
  • Support research and provide grants for program improvement
  • Operate the Federal Parent Locator Service and the National Directory of New Hires
  • Work with states to provide limited enforcement services, such as federal tax refund intercepts and passport denials
  • Work with employers and other private and public partners
  • Help with intergovernmental child support cases

Expected Goals

The child support program annually measures and reports its progress toward achieving the following goals:

  • All children have established parentage.
  • All children in child support cases have appropriate support orders.
  • All children in child support cases receive timely and consistent financial support from parents as ordered.
  • All children in child support cases will receive payments on overdue support.
  • The child support program will be efficient and responsive in its operations.

Brief History of the Program

Established Date

The child support program was established in 1975.

Reason It Was Formed

Congress began the child support program to reimburse benefits paid by the government’s welfare programs. Congress changed the program in 1996 as part of the new welfare reform laws to expand the role of technology and ensure children receive more of the support paid by their parents. Today, the child support program has emerged as a family support program providing significant income for vulnerable families.

Children Served

Fiscal Year Children Served ($M)
2016 15.6
2017 15.1
2018 14.7
2019 14.3
2020 13.8*
* 2020 Preliminary Data


Administration for Children & Families | Office of Communications | 330 C Street, S.W., Mailstop 4002 | Washington, D.C. 20201
Kenneth J. Wolfe, Deputy Press Secretary | Phone: (202) 401-9215 | Fax: (202) 205-9688 | Email: |