N.K. Clark

 
March 1, 2014



When the United States government passed reform to the child support and the Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC) systems, the objective was supposedly to end welfare as we knew it in the nation.  When this dramatic change was implemented in the AFDC program, block grants were awarded to the states in order to provide for needy families.  Unfortunately, this change was detrimental to an already disadvantaged community.  According to Schott, Paretti, and Finch (2012), the government gives states a fixed block grant totaling $16.5 billion each year.


With the time limits and other restrictions preventing low-income families from receiving cash and other benefits, the remaining money can be used as the states' discretion.  In fact, with the freed up money, states used some funds to substitute for (or "supplant") existing state spending (Schott, et.al., 2012).  This left many families in worse financial situations then they could have possible imagined when drafting the reforms.  According to Schott, et. al. (2012), the money, which initially was used to assist disadvantaged families, was suddenly used for plugging holes in state budgets.


With no direct money being paid to supplement these low-income families, child support reform was the alternative.  Unfortunately, there was no substantial long-term plan for transitioning those parents, mostly living in poverty, from depending on one income to depending on another.  The latter of the incomes was as uncertain as the success of child support and welfare reformations.  A significant safety net would have been helpful when lifting families out of poverty.


The federal government did not seem to strongly consider the difficulty of being denied a steady income, albeit a low amount, while seeking money from another parent who was probably living in poverty themselves.  The objective, along with getting millions of people employed was to wean people off of public assistance while pursuing money from another target.  The label of "deadbeat" dad was introduced and there dawned a new villain to blame on poverty in America.  There was never a second thought that the government did not care about lifting people out of poverty by providing jobs.  The government, arguably, was only worried about ending welfare as a crutch for the poor.


According to The Lewin Group (2003), increases in work activity might increase a woman's sense of independence and reduce her perceived need for child support.  Why, then, over a decade later is child support one of the biggest issues affecting the modern day nontraditional families.  The need for omen to reduce the need for child support would mean that they may not miss forfeited payments that were assigned to the states in return for receiving dwindling and time restricted cash welfare benefits.  When collecting the child support payments, the custodial parents did not receive a penny of that money.

 

In the beginning, it was because of receiving TANF benefits, and then it was because of a supposed bill owed to the state for those benefits, and finally it is because of arrears.  Anyway that it is justified, it is money being collected on behalf of children and families but is clearly being retained by the states.  Besides money that is clearly being retained by the state, billions are collected and undistributed to these some families.  In fact, in 2012 alone, the Office of Child Support Enforcement reported that a total of $640,772,707 which include pending and unresolved distributed collections.  That is even more money that the government has claimed without any explanation to the public that it is supposed to serve.

 

Finally, all states receive incentives and bonuses for meeting and or exceeding five measurements approved by the federal government.  As long as the mandated requirements are satisfied, money will be paid to the states like clockwork.  Eight states received Section 1115 Grants in addition to incentive payments in 2012.  The payments ranged from $194,416 to $200,000.  This money is not directly paid to the families but is, instead, used to “manage evaluations”.  These evaluations are used to inform state child support agencies conducting national child support noncustodial parent employment demonstrations about the effectiveness of the programs (Department of Health and Human Services, 2012). 

 

These grants have not improved the conditions of the families enough to gain national recognition for assisting families on a quest to become self-sufficient.  As the information details, the federal government pays out at least three times for the benefit of state child support agencies.  Yet, child poverty has increased since the reform and implementation of the two systems.  The child poverty rate in 2000 was 17% and was 23% in 2012 (KidsCount, 2012).  I can think of over 16.m children that could make better use of that money if it were to reach the families.  Instead, the local, state and federal governments continue to triple dip into the pockets of taxpaying citizens and families.

 

   

References:

Kids Cound data center (2013). Children in poverty | KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Retrieved February 11, 2013, from http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/43-children-in-poverty?loc=1&loct=1#detailed/1/any/false/868,11/any/321,322

The Lewin Group (2003, April 11). Child Support and TANF Interaction: Literature Review. Retrieved February 2, 2013, from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/cs-tanf-int03/report.htm

Office of Child Support Enforcement (2012, October 22). FY 2012 OCSE Grant Awards | Office of Child Support Enforcement | Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved February 11, 2013, from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/fy-2012-ocse-grant-awards

Schott, L., Pavetti, L., & Finch, I. (2012, August 7). How States Have Spent Federal and State Funds Under the TANF Block Grant — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3808





 


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