Recently, I was updating our breakdown of Title IV-D incentive payments to states, and I came across this little gem in a 2012 budget request from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families for title IV-D funding.
This is on page 278 (source https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/olab/cse.pdf):
“Child Support and Fatherhood Initiative
The CSE program plays an important role in facilitating family self-sufficiency and promoting responsible fatherhood. Building on this role, the FY 2012 budget includes a new Child Support and Fatherhood Initiative to encourage non-custodial parents to work, support their children, and play an active role in their children’s lives.
Ensuring that when non-custodial parents do the right thing and pay child support, their children benefit. The proposal includes $1 billion over eight years (FY 2014 – 2021) to encourage states to pass through the current child support collections they receive on behalf of TANF families to the families, rather than retaining those payments. The proposal would no longer require states to reimburse the Federal government for any part of the current child support payment that the state chooses to distribute to the family, estimated to cost $543 million during the eight-year period. To encourage states to take up this policy, the proposal also includes a short-term five-year pool of funds to offset a significant share of states’ costs in implementing this policy, estimated to cost $454 million between FY 2014 and FY 2018.
The proposal also requires that the child support payments made on behalf of children in foster care are used in the best interest of the child, rather than as general revenue ($370 million) and prohibits the use of child support to repay Medicaid costs associated with giving birth from fathers—a practice that is currently used only by a small number of states. Recovery of this debt from noncustodial parents can discourage the participation of pregnant in Medicaid and reduce child support payments to the family ($70 million). In addition, the proposal grants states additional flexibility to discontinue the requirement that child support payments be assigned to the state when a family receives TANF assistance ($122 million), and provides limited resources to help states makes the necessary adjustments to their computer systems ($100 million). Taken together, these policy changes are estimated to result in an additional $1.9 billion in child support payments reaching the children the payments were intended to support.
Promoting Access and Visitation. The budget provides $570 million over ten years to support increased access and visitation services and integrates these services into the core child support program. The first step in facilitating a relationship between non-custodial parents and their children is updating the statutory purposes of the CSE program to recognize the program’s evolving mission and activities that help parents cooperate and support their children. The proposal also requires states to establish access and visitation responsibilities in all initial child support orders. The proposal also would encourage states to undertake activities that support access and visitation. Implementing domestic violence safeguards is a critical component of this new state responsibility. These services not only will improve parent-child relationships and outcomes for children, but they also will result in improved collections. Research shows that when fathers are engaged in the lives of their children, they are more likely to meet their financial obligations. This creates a “double win” for children – an engaged parent and more financial security.”
Let us count the insults:
- The “fatherhood initiative” is intended to encourage >>non-custodial parents<< to work, support their children, and play an active role in their children’s lives. Last I checked, noncustodial mothers have a child support delinquency rate almost double that of fathers.
- Apparently, it is a fact that child support payments directly pass through as benefits to children.
- The Department was asking for $570 million over ten years to support increased access to “visitation”. Wow, that’s awesome. Out of a $4 billion dollar annual Title IV-D budget, the Department was asking for an additional $57MM per year to encourage non-custodial parents to “visit” with their children (14% of the enforcement budget and $1.1MM per state) because higher involvement by non-custodial parents is correlated to lower child support delinquencies.
- Oh, but then we also have the obligatory VAWA and “best interests” disclaimers.
- It is also worth noting that the initiative is intended to “encourage” non-custodial involvement. Not a peep is mentioned about the enforcement of custody orders.
So, the Feds dangled a little extra gravy out there for noncustodial parents (er, I mean fathers) so they’ll “visit” with their children, and what do you know, all of a sudden, states start looking at shared parenting bills that dangle a little extra parenting time for non-custodial parents, while still preserving conditions that maximize and administer child support payments for Title IVD bonuses.
I’ll tell you what U.S. Government. I don’t need “encouragement” to see my children.
In fact, I’m trying to get laws changed so that Government will get out of my way and let me actually do it.