May 7, 2014
To all who are not aware, the child support enforcement system is a billion dollar business in the debt collection industry. According to Emily Alpert Reyes of the LA Times (2013), more that $14 billion in child support was left unpaid to American parents in a single year. She does not mention that much of that money is arrears and are exclusively owed to the states. When that much money is at stake, there are extreme measures taken in order to collect those dollars. Because this money is government owned debt, the action to collect becomes more ruthless and uncaring than with the private collection agencies.
Currently, there are several enforcement measures taken in order to collect these billions of dollars. Professional and driver's licenses are snatched, property liens ordered, and imprisonment are just a few punishments that parents endure when owing child support debt to the government. All of the fees associated with the collection process emphasize the billion dollar status of the child support industry. But what about the revenues that are generated by non-public companies operating on the backs of families enrolled in the child support system? Companies such as the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) and the Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support Association (ERICSA) are two organizations making money in the name of children and families.
The NCSEA serves child support professionals, agencies, and strategic partners worldwide (NCSEA, 2014). There is no direct relationship between families and this agency although the alleged connection can be found written in the company's mission statement. The business boasts that it advocates to enhance the financial, medical, and emotional support that parents provide for their children, (NCSEA, 2014). This support does not come without a cost to the array of organizations that are served by this company and not to the taxpayers or families.
For instance, state, tribal, or international IV-D agency memberships range from $1,275 to $3,000 depending on which class the organization enrolls. There are additional Web-Talks available (beyond the initial programs) that can be purchased for $150, (NCSEA, 2014). Local agencies must also pay in order to gain information supposedly designed to better assist children and families. Although less at $315 to $1050 based on class, there are additional costs if an agency is seeking better classes with more information. There are premium education and training programs offered to both private and public parties.
According to the CSEA (2014), the premier program is $3,200 and represents a total value of more than $5,390. In order to purchase this expensive package that is supposed to be about assisting families in collecting child support, an organization must be a current dues member, (CSEA, 2014). While it is clear that businesses target and partner with government agencies while taxpayers are being made to pay the bill for their services. This money is never a direct, or arguably, indirect benefit to the children or the families currently participating in the child support system.
ERICSA, too, is a for-profit business generating revenues from the scheme of the child support agencies. This for-profit company describes itself as facilitating communication and delivering professional training in order to enhance the well-being of families, (ERICSA, 2014). That sounds commendable if families directly benefited from that assistance. It seems that the company is the biggest beneficiary based on the conferences, symposiums, and expositions that it hosts across the country. Although membership to the organization is only $25 per year (excluding lifelong membership), the company more than likely accommodates its revenues by cashing in from the government.
In May of this year, ERICSA will be hosting a training program that charges $250 for volunteers, $350 for speakers, and moderators, and $425 for regular attendance, (ERICSA, 2014). For those employers attending the employer symposium, costs are similar but there are additional charges at $200 a day for classes that are no included. There are also charges for the reception for the ERICSA president at $25, a business breakfast charge of $25, and a banquet which costs $50 per person, (ERICSA, 2014). This money being spent and collected in the name of children and families will, once again, never directly benefit the children.
These are just two examples of businesses that gain huge profits under the disguise of caring about the welfare of children and families. The billion dollar industry will continue to grow as long as citizens continue to be held liable for lifelong debt, double digit interest, and unrelenting collection practices. Public entities have no desire to discontinue collecting revenues off of the backs of children. Based on the growing revenues of private child support entities, their desire to discontinue making money in this fashion, is one that does not exist.
Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support Association (n.d.). ERICSA - Eastern
Regional Interstate Child Support Association. Retrieved March 3, 2014, from
National Child Support Enforcement Association (n.d.). About NCSEA | NCSEA:
National Child Support Enforcement Association. Retrieved March 3, 2014, from
Reyes, E. A. (2013, November 20). Billions of dollars in child support go unpaid
yearly - Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2014, from
A parent and an author who has survived adverse situations and lived to write about it..