Child Support:

States' Progress in Implementing the 1984 Amendments

HRD-87-11: Published: Oct 3, 1986. Publicly Released: Nov 3, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO surveyed states' progress in implementing 14 selected provisions of the Child Support Enforcement Amendments to determine: (1) whether states enacted required legislation before the implementation of certain provisions; (2) the expected enactment and implementation dates; and (3) the causes of any delays in provision implementation.

GAO found that the number of states that had fully implemented the provisions requiring state legislation ranged from 3 for the wage-withholding and state-tax-refund-offset provisions, to 45 for permitting the establishment of paternity until at least a child's 18th birthday. Most of the states had already implemented the six provisions that did not require state legislation. In addition, GAO found that state officials had concerns about the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Child Support Enforcement's oversight of states' implementation because: (1) there were communications problems between the Office and the states regarding statutory requirements; (2) the Office did not verify whether states possessed and used required procedures, resulting in unreliable implementation reports from the states; and (3) the Office was not maintaining complete records of states' revised implementation dates, which hampered adequate implementation time-frame monitoring. Most of the states believed that the amendments would: (1) have a positive effect on enforcement nationwide; and (2) help more in collecting and enforcing support payments than in establishing paternity, locating absent parents, obtaining support orders, or enforcing interstate cases.

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