Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014: Improving Child Support Recovery

3/28/2016

Child holding flowersThe U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means announced a bipartisan agreement on June 26, 2014, designed to help reduce the incidence of sex trafficking among youth in foster care, assist in creating normalcy for youth in foster care, increase the speed with which permanency for foster youth is achieved and increase the amount of child support for families.

President Obama signed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (the act) into law on Sept. 29, 2014.

The main requirement with regard to child support is that each state adopt the most recent amendments to the 2008 Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to bring it into compliance with the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. Additional requirements or recommmendations deal with parenting time arrangements and best practices.

Below is an explanation of the child support provisions within the act. For those interested in the child welfare related provisions, click here.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act: 2008 Amendments

Title III of the act is intended to improve child support recovery. The act requires states to adopt the 2008 amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which put the uniform act in compliance with the most recent Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, of which the U.S. is a member, but has not yet ratified.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have adopted the original 1992/1996 UIFSA as required by 42 U.S.C. 666(f) and 21 states have adopted the 2001 amendments.

The act amends 42 U.S.C. 666(f) to require that “each state must have in effect the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, as approved by the American Bar Association on Feb. 9, 1993, including any amendments officially adopted as of Sept. 30, 2008 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.”

As of March 2016 all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted the 2008 amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. See the Uniform Law Commission for more.

NCSL continues to track state legislation in the Child Support and Family Law Legislation Database.

Other Provisions

In addition, the act also provides a sense of Congress that establishing parenting time arrangements when obtaining child support orders is an important goal which should be accompanied by strong family violence safeguards. It further encourages states to use existing funding sources to support the establishment of parenting time arrangements, including child support incentive payments, Access and Visitation Grants, and Healthy Marriage Promotion and Responsible Fatherhood Grants.

Further, the act requires the secretary to provide recommendations for cost-effective improvements to the child support enforcement program and ensure that the plan addresses the effectiveness and performance of the program, analyzes program practices, identifies possible new collection tools and approaches, and identifies strategies for holding parents accountable for supporting their children and for building the capacity of parents to pay child support. The act suggests that specific attention be paid to front-end services, on-going case management, collections, tribal-state partnerships, interstate and intergovernmental interactions, program performance, data analytics, and information technology. As part of this process, the Secretary is encouraged to consult with state, tribal and county child support directors, judges, noncustodial parents and organizations that support them and other organizations affected by child support enforcement policies.

Following the gathering of information, the secretary must submit a report to Congress setting forth policy options for improvements in child support enforcement. The report must include:

  • A review of the effectiveness of state child support enforcement programs, and the collection practices employed by state agencies administering the programs , and an analysis of the extent to which the practices result in unintended consequences or performance issues associated with the programs and practices.
  • Recommendations for methods to enhance the effectiveness of child support enforcement programs and collection practices.
  • A review of state best practices in regards to establishing and operating state and multistate lien registries.
  • A compilation of state recovery and distribution policies.
  • Options, with analysis, for methods to engage noncustodial parents in the lives of their children.
  • An analysis of the role of alternative dispute resolution in making child support determinations.
  • Identification of best practices for: (1) determining which services and support programs available to custodial and noncustodial parents are non-duplicative, evidence-based, and produce quality outcomes, and connecting custodial and noncustodial parents to those services and support programs; (2) providing employment support, job training, and job placement for custodial and noncustodial parents; and (3) establishing services, supports, and child support payment tracking for noncustodial parents, including options for the prevention of, and intervention on, uncollectible arrearages, such as retroactive obligations.
  • Options, with analysis, for methods for states to use to collect child support payments for individuals who owe excessive arrearages.
  • A review of state practices used to determine which individuals are excluded from
  • Options, with analysis, for actions as are determined appropriate for improvement in child support enforcement.

About This NCSL Project

NCSL staff in D.C. and Denver can provide comprehensive, thorough, and timely information on critical child support policy issues. We provide services to legislators and staff working to improve state policies affecting children and their families. NCSL's online clearinghouse for state legislators includes resources on child support policy, financing, laws, research and promising practices. Technical assistance visits to states are available to any state legislature that would like training or assistance related to this topic.

The Denver-based child support project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience. Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or cyf-info@ncsl.org.

NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child support issues before Congress and the Administration. Staff in D.C. can be reached at (202) 624-5400 or cyf-info@ncsl.org.

The child support project and D.C. human services staff receive guidance and support from NCSL's Standing Committee on Health & Human Services.

Additional Resources