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Characteristics of Families Served by the Child Support (IV-D) Program: 2016 Census Survey Results

Published: November 19, 2018

This report identifies the characteristics of custodial families served by the child support (IV-D) program using the latest data available from the Census Bureau, which was collected in 2016 and reflects the income of families in 2015.

Although OCSE and state child support agencies collect and report a substantial amount of data about child support, they collect little about the economic and demographic characteristics of custodial families in the IV-D program. As a result, OCSE has worked with the U.S. Census Bureau since the 1970s to collect this type of data.

The Census Bureau adds a supplement every other year to its Current Population Survey. This supplement asks a series of questions that identifies custodial families based on methodology originally developed by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and then asks about child support awards and services received.

These are key findings described in this report:

  • Approximately 34% of families and 42% of children in the IV-D program were poor in 2015.
  • Nearly half (48%) of all children who lived in poverty in 2015 were eligible for child support services.
  • Custodial parents who participate in the IV-D program are much more likely to be poor, never married, under the age of 30 years old, and have limited education than custodial parents outside the IV-D program.
Last Reviewed: November 19, 2018

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