Child Support: Beyond Enforcement to Engagement
NCSL Legislative Summit: Aug. 6, 2012
Representative Michael Barbieri, Delaware
Vicki Turetsky, Office of Child Support Enforcement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. PowerPoint
Representative David Heaton, Iowa
Beyond Enforcement to Engagement
State legislators and legislative staff from across the country heard from Vicki Turetsky, OCSE Commissioner, on the importance of child support on the well-being of children and the resulting public benefits. The session is part of a new contract between OCSE and NCSL to create a clearinghouse of resources on child support policy for legislators and to build relationships between legislators and state child support directors.
Commissioner Turetsky opened her remarks by emphasizing the ways child support improves child well-being by reducing child poverty, promoting parental responsibility and improving educational outcomes. She stressed the importance of child support as a key source of income for low-income custodial families, specifically the deeply poor. The Commissioner also underscored the cost-effectiveness of child support programs and explained how child support avoids other public costs.
The Commissioner went on to discuss ways to ensure children receive reliable support payments, outlining five evidence-based tools that increase regular payments. These tools are part of the paradigm shift in child support to focus on short and longer-term strategies to collect support, including greater use of data and early intervention with parents to make sure parents are on the right track to meet support obligations.
Participants also heard from Representative Dave Heaton from Iowa about the legislative perspective on child support programs. Rep. Heaton told the audience that child support legislation is often influenced by specific constituent concerns. He acknowledged the budget cuts states have made to child support programs and the challenges those cuts created for staff. He also mentioned the inconsistency of driver’s license suspension rules and the ability for noncustodial parents to get to work if they cannot drive.
Legislators left the session with a better understanding of child support programs and its importance to children and families.