Child Support Programs and their contribution in making United States a welfare state
The current essay is aimed at exploring the legislations and policies related to child support and welfare and how it helped United States to be a welfare state. The author has analyzed the child support programs and whether these programs have been helpful for the parents of children. The author has also discussed the problems related to these support programs as well as their benefits.
Welfare and Child Support Receipt
In 2005, there were 6.8 million custodial parents in need of child support through either legal awards or unofficial arrangements there were spend an annual average of $5,600 annually, or an average of $465 monthly. "Overall, custodial parents reported receiving $25.9 billion directly from the non-custodial parent for support of their children in 2005." According to the April 2006 Current Population Survey, "sixty-one percent of all custodial parents received at least one type of non-cash support, such as gifts or coverage of expenses, on behalf of their children." Custodial parents who had a child support order or agreement were more likely to receive non-cash support (65.3%) than those custodial parents who did not have awards (55.3%). The most common type of non-cash support received by custodial parents was birthday, holiday, or other gifts. Other support received included clothing, diapers, groceries, medical expenses unrelated to health insurance, and child care . [1: Grall, T.S. "Custodial mothers and fathers and their child support: 2005." (U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Reports, P 60-234). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau. (2007).] [2: Ibid. 230. ] [3: Ibid. 234.]
There are many issues that involve the welfare system and child support distribution and receipt policies. Many rules and regulations are established by these policies, which can confuse low-income parents and policymakers alike. Below is a discussion of the history of welfare reform policies and their effects on child support receipt and enforcement is discussed.
The History of Child Support Program
On August 14, 1935, the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program was introduced under the Social Security Act and it was part of this act . This program allowed states to financially help the families have low income who met specific requirements, such as a non-custodial parent not providing child support. The 1935 Social Security Act was the first major piece of welfare legislation in the United States. The ADC program was renamed Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1962. The words "families with" were added because of concern that program rules discouraged marriage . [4: Wisconsin Historical Society. "A brief explanation of the Social Security Act." (April 1936) Retrieved November 18, 2011 from hrrp://content.wisconsinhistory.org/u?/tp,3891] [5: Blank, R.M., & Ellwood, D.T."The Clinton legacy for America's poor." In J. Frankel & P. Orszag (Eds.), American economic policy in the 1990s. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (2002): 749-800]
The first major federal child support legislation was the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) in 1950. This act provided a system for interstate enforcement of child support without the custodial parent having to travel to the state where the non-custodial parent lived. It also helped to set up fatherhood, situate missing noncustodial parents, and also assisted in either establishing, modifying, or enforcing an order that may support across state lines. In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed into law Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, through which the federal child support enforcement system was established. This program was to be a partnership between state and federal governments, with state governments having primary responsibility to operate the program. The federal government was responsible for such tasks as to establish a service to locate parent, to provide technical help, and to certify cases that are necessary to be referral to federal courts and the Internal Revenue Service for enforcement and collection . States were provided federal matching funds for child support enforcement for AFDC cases. Federal legislation was also passed that would allow the government to garnish the wages of non-custodial parents in order to satisfy child support obligations . Since under the federal law of 1975, it is required that child support obligations will remain in position even if the non-custodial parent declares bankruptcy . So from the 1981, perditions have been given to child support agencies to gather spousal support in support of custodial parents. Similarly in 1984 it was made obligatory that custodial parents will be required to appeal for medical support through most the child support orders [6: Pirog, M.A., & Ziol-Guest, K.M. "Child support enforcement: Programs and policies, impacts and questions." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 25(4), (2006) 943-990.] [7: Ibid] [8: Garfinkel, I., McLanahan, S.S., & Robins, P.K. (Eds.). "Child support assurance: Design issues, expected impacts, and political barriers as seen from Wisconsin." Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press. (1992)] [9: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means. 2008 Green Book. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. (2008)]
The 1984 Child Support Enforcement Amendments obligates the States to provide equal services for both the welfare and non-welfare families, and endowed with stricter measures against delinquent non-custodial parents, such as obligatory wage preservation if support payments proved to be aberrant by one month as well as creating liens against actual and personal property in the amount of late support. A pass-through policy was also established that required at least $50 of a monthly child support payment that was collected to be distributed directly to the custodial parent. For example, if a custodial parent in Iowa had a $300 child support order and received $361 in welfare benefits, the parent would receive $50 of child support and the remaining $250 would go to the state for reimbursement of welfare benefits on behalf of the custodial parent.
Throughout the last twenty years, there have been several state and federal laws established in an effort to enforce and collect child support. The Family Support Act of 1988 contained a number of provisions for strengthening the enforcement of child support for AFDC cases. The Act obligates judges and other experts to use the guidelines provided by State for determining child support award amounts, and mandated three-year reviews and adjustments of cases involving welfare families who were receiving child support . The Act also set state standards for paternity establishment, authorized to use federal reimbursement for the expenditure on testing paternity, mandated genetic testing in disputed cases, and obligatory instant withholding of wages for all new or modified orders being implied from States, commencing in November 1990. It was required that all States must develop and maintain state-wide computerized tracking and monitoring systems by October 1995, or they will have to face federal penalties . [10: Edin, K. "Single mothers and child support: The possibilities and limits of child support policy." Children and Youth Services Review, 17(1/2), (1995): 203-230.] [11: Lerman, R.I., & Sorensen, E. "Child support: Interactions between private and public sectors." Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. (2001)]
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 necessitated States to approve procedures for the acknowledgement of voluntary paternity because it was found successful in many hospital-based programs . Countrywide, there was found increase in the number of children who had an established or acknowledged paternity up to1.8 million in FY2008, of which 1.2 million involved in-hospital or other paternity acknowledgements . [12: Farrel, M., Glosser, A., & Gardiner, K. "Child support and TANF interaction: Literature review. Report to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Falls Church, VA: The Lewin Group. (2003).] [13: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means. 2008 Green Book. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. (2008)]
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 made several changes to the federal child support enforcement program. One of these changes established a "Families First" policy which was aimed at providing incentives to States so as to support them in allowing more child support to go to previous welfare families . [14: Ibid]
Welfare and Child Support Enforcement
One of the most influential pieces of legislation involving welfare and child support enforcement was the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. This was passed during the Clinton era when he made clear: "I want a national system of national child support enforcement because governments don't raise children; people do." [15: Ellwood, 2002, p. 749]
One of the most important premises of PRWORA was holding both custodial and non-custodial parents financially accountable for their children. For example, states were now able to deny food stamps to non-custodial parents who were behind in their child support payments. This new law was the first effort of the federal government to withhold welfare benefits from low-income non-custodial parents as a penalty for not satisfying their child support obligation . PRWORA also allowed states to design their own welfare-to-work programs, and established a lifetime limit on receipt of welfare benefits. [16: McLanahan, S.S., & Robins, P.K. (Eds.).]