DATE: October 21, 2015
TO: State and Tribal Agencies Administering Child Support Enforcement Plans under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and Other Interested Parties
SUBJECT: Safe Access to Child Support Services: Scope of the Issue
ATTACHMENT: Enhancing Safe Access to Child Support Services: IV-D Program Inventory and Planning Resource
The existence of domestic violence in the child support caseload has been acknowledged as a given for decades, but until recently, scant research has been conducted on the incidence of domestic violence between parties in the child support system. The Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the University of Texas conducted the first large-scale study to gather information on domestic violence, paternity, and child support participation. The CFRP study was based on a representative sample of approximately 1,200 mothers and 300 fathers with a non-marital birth in the state of Texas. The sample was split between parents surveyed three months after their child’s birth and a sample of parents three years after their child’s birth.
For the first time, child support program administrators have data specific to domestic violence experienced by custodial parents in the IV-D program and the data highlights several critical issue areas for child support agencies’ attention. Unless otherwise noted, all research reference comes from CFRP and can be found at: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.org.
One of the primary reasons that victims either stay with their abuser or return to their abuser after leaving is the lack of financial resources to live independently. The core purpose of the child support program, ensuring families receive consistent and reliable support, is ideally aligned to promote victims’ ability to safely leave violent relationships and establish safe, independent living situations for themselves and their children. When victims do not know what protections are available to them in the child support process, victims go without critical financial support. Not only can consistent financial support help victims leave an abusive relationship, but knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence can help child support professionals understand customers, lead to improved case processing, and increase safety for parents and staff.
A short list of best practices for enhancing safe access to child support includes:
There is no “one size fits all” plan that works in every setting, and as such, states, local, and tribal child support agencies have flexibility in crafting a domestic violence plan that is appropriate for their unique legal and administrative settings. OCSE’s “Enhancing Safe Access to Child Support Services: IV-D Program Inventory and Planning Resource” is designed to be a logical, practical first step in developing a comprehensive domestic violence plan. States have previously crafted practices on the placement and removal of a Family Violence Indicator (FVI). But FVI policies should not be viewed as a complete domestic violence policy or plan. A domestic violence plan explains the child support agency’s overall approach to identifying and responding to domestic violence at various stages of case processing.
INQUIRIES: Please contact Senior Program Specialist, Michael Hayes at Michael.email@example.com
Office of Child Support Enforcement