New memorandum encourages the development of child support employment services

Today, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families publishes an information memorandum encouraging state and tribal child support agencies to consider applying for a funding and regulatory waiver to help create employment services for noncustodial parents struggling to make child support payments due to unemployment or underemployment.

The information memorandum informs child support agencies of a long-standing statutory authority, which provides child support enforcement agencies the ability to fund otherwise non-allowable program activities, including noncustodial parent employment programs.

With an approved waiver request for noncustodial parent employment services, state and tribal child support enforcement agencies have the ability to develop work activities for noncustodial parents to help improve the financial well-being of their children by increasing reliable child support payments. Without an approved noncustodial parent employment waiver by OCSE, state and tribal child support agencies have very limited authority to conduct such activities with noncustodial parents who are unable to pay child support.

“Allowing noncustodial parents who are behind or noncompliant with their child support obligations to participate in work activities is a results-based and cost-effective approach to obtaining regular child support payments,” said Scott Lekan, Commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement. “Our agency’s role in the child support collection process is to actively promote and assist state and tribal child support efforts in promoting work initiatives that will increase noncustodial parents’ ability to economically support their children and themselves. This program supports our agency’s goals as it promotes personal responsibility, provides an opportunity for noncustodial parents to take care of their children, and allows families to avoid government dependence.”

As part of OCSE’s strategy to promote the demonstration and evaluation of employment programs for noncustodial parents, Section 1115 of the Social Security Act allows limited demonstration authority to use federal funds for employment services. Under the statute, state and tribal child support enforcement agencies must promote the objectives of the child support program, make sure designated projects improve the well-being of children or operation of the program, and provide their share of funding.

State and tribal child support agencies must also invest new funds – not redirect funds away from routine child support program operations - to pay their share of the cost of the pilot activities. They must also provide detailed information about implementation and evaluation plans for the projects. With OCSE’s approval of the waiver project, the child support agency’s share or private funding contributions are eligible for federal financial participation of up to $2 million.

“OCSE believes the option to implement noncustodial parent employment services is a good strategy to increase participation in the workforce, improve compliance with court-ordered child support payments and provide low-income Americans with a path out of poverty to financial self-sufficiency,” said Lekan. “Employment services will help noncustodial parents fulfill their financial responsibility, encourage parental engagement and strengthen parental connections children need to achieve positive and supportive life outcomes.”

Child support programs nationwide serve nearly 15 million children each year, lifting more than one million people out of poverty by collecting child support owed by one parent, and disbursing it to the other parent.

OCSE will offer technical assistance throughout the waiver request and approval process, as well as through the duration of the project, including a toolkit of resources for assessment, design, and development of employment service programs for noncustodial parents.

For additional information about the federal child support program, please visit: Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Quick Facts

  • The information memorandum encourages state and tribal child support agencies to use Section 1115 waivers to fund noncustodial parent employment services.
  • An approved waiver project is eligible for up to $2 million in federal funding for the duration of the project, typically 2-5 years.
  • OCSE has the authority to waive specific program requirements or funding limitations, under certain circumstances, to allow a state or tribal child support agency to conduct time-limited activities that would not otherwise be allowable.

Quotes

“Allowing noncustodial parents who are behind or noncompliant with their child support obligations to participate in work activities is a results-based and cost-effective approach to obtaining regular child support payments. Our agency’s role in the child support collection process is to actively promote and assist state and tribal child support efforts in promoting work initiatives that will increase noncustodial parents’ ability to economically support their children and themselves. This program supports our agency’s goals as it promotes personal responsibility, provides an opportunity for noncustodial parents to take care of their children, and allows families to avoid government dependence.”
Scott Lekan, Commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement
“OCSE believes the option to implement noncustodial parent employment services is a good strategy to increase participation in the workforce, improve compliance with court-ordered child support payments and provide low-income Americans with a path out of poverty to financial self-sufficiency. Employment services will help noncustodial parents fulfill their financial responsibility, encourage parental engagement and strengthen parental connections children need to achieve positive and supportive life outcomes.”
Scott Lekan, Commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement

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State & tribal child support agencies - federal §1115 waiver is available to create job services for under or unemployed noncustodial parents struggling to pay

Last Reviewed: July 23, 2019
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