July 23, 2014
There are 27 states that do not pass-through any money to families receiving Temporary Need for Needy Families or TANF funded cash assistance. There are other states that have on record that they pass-through some money to these families, but fail their own state laws. For instance, Arizona is supposed to pass up to $50 to families, which is the amount disregarded for the purposes of eligibility and TANF benefits. However, between 2009 and 2013, there was $0 passed through to the families of the state. According to the Alaskan government website, in some cases, the Child Support Services Division may issue child support payments directly to the family for months the family was not on temporary assistance. Since the state government receives TANF block grants to provide for needy families, the parents should be demanding a full TANF cash benefit, pass-through money or a full child support payment.
Georgia is another state that has a policy in place regarding passing through some of the child support payment collected. Georgia passes-through and disregards some or all support for purposes of fill-the-gap budgeting, (Center for Law and Social Policy, 2009). Since the state is supposed to, by its own acknowledgment, pay at least some money to the families, those families should be receiving cash on at least a monthly basis. During 2009 and 2013, Georgia did not distribute one dollar to any families enrolled in the TANF cash program. According to Laura Wheaton and Elaine Sorensen of the Urban Institute Program (2007), fill-the-gap states are not required to pay the federal share of child support distributed to families to “fill-the-gap” between the states TANF payment and standard of need. This translates simply to more needy children receiving less money from the government even when it child support is supposedly collected on behalf of the children.
These failed policies and the failure of states to execute its own guidelines and laws is the reason that child poverty has increased in America. Some states that previously disregarded a fraction of the child support payments to the families have decided to discontinue the process. The state of Washington once had in place a policy that yielded income for child support and TANF dependent families. The state reported that between October 1, 2008 and April 30, 2011, federal and state law allowed the Division of Child Support (DCS) to send a portion of child support collections to a custodian of minor children while receiving a TANF grant. During these years, the states passed through approximately $29,814,561. That amount declined drastically between 2012 and 2013 to just $3,484 (Administration for Children and Family, 2014).
The justification offered by Washington officials to justify the drastic and detrimental decline in payments to families were simple budget cuts. According to the Washington state website, due to budgetary concerns, The Washington State Legislature passed SB 6893, which suspended pass-through payments for collections received on and after May 1, 2011. Since the states have no problem refusing money to the rightful payees because of budget constraints, noncustodial parents should be granted relief under similar circumstances. This is a direct comparison of the states ignoring parents that are too poor to afford the child support payments, arrears, rent, utilities, food, etc. If the government can grant itself debt relief under financially burdened times, the same courtesy should be extended to parents. The truth of the matter is that 100% of child support money collected should be paid, in full, the custodial parents. Any amount less than 100% constitutes theft. The system cannot continue to justify enforcements against noncustodial parents by claiming the actions are for the best interest of the children when over half of the states are keeping the money. These practices have one definite beneficiary and that is the government entities across the nation.
Center for Law and Social Policy. (2009, June 12). State child support pass-through policites. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.clasp.org/docs/PassThroughFinal061209.pdf
Office of Child Support Enforcement. (2014, April 1). FY2013 Preliminary Report - Table P-30 | Office of Child Support Enforcement | Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/fy2013-preliminary-report-table-p-30
State of Alaska. (n.d.). 758-1 Child Support Income. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://dpaweb.hss.state.ak.us/manuals/ta/758/758-1_child_support_income.htm
Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. (n.d.). Child Support Pass Through Payment Q & A: Washington State Division of Child Support. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.dshs.wa.gov/dcs/PassThruQA.asp
Wheaton, L., & Sorensen, E. (2007, December). The Potential impact of increasing child support payments to TANF families. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411595_child_support.pdf
A parent and an author who has survived adverse situations and lived to write about it..