Child support payments are a vital source of income for many families that AFI projects serve. For low-income single parents, it comprises 25 percent of their income. Child support payments supplement earnings and help make saving possible.
Congress established the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program in 1975 to collect child support payments for children living in single-parent families. The primary goal of the program has remained consistent over the years: helping custodial parents obtain child support.
In addition, parents can receive many other services from the state-level CSE agencies that implement the national CSE program. CSE agencies can help locate a parent that owes child support, establish paternity for a child, obtain a child support order, and enforce medical support obligations to help a family obtain medical insurance coverage. CSE agencies have multiple tools to collect child support payments, including garnishing income other than wages, such as unemployment and retirement benefits and income tax refunds. CSEs can also suspend driver’s licenses and professional, occupational, and recreational licenses.
Most child support orders require payments be made through the State’s centralized child support disbursement unit (SDU). The State SDU pays almost the entire amount of the child support payment directly to the family, with some exceptions.
AFI grantees should learn more about the services available through their CSE agency, and ultimately refer their project participants to those offerings. For example, the CSE program can help custodial parents assess whether or not a child support obligation has been or should be established, and can help to collect child support owed. When working with noncustodial parents who owe or pay child support, this financial obligation must be considered when doing any financial planning or saving.Learn more about the basics of child support enforcement.
This article originally ran in the IDAresources.org Update Newsletter on 04/28/11 and is available for archival purposes.