Child Support Collection Efforts for Non-AFDC Families

HRD-85-3: Published: Oct 30, 1984. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal, state, and local efforts to collect child support for families not receiving assistance from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.

The recently enacted Child Support Enforcement Amendments require a greater emphasis on child support collection and enforcement for non-AFDC families, new federal incentive payments to states for non-AFDC support collections, and mandatory wage withholding when the equivalent of 1 month's support is in arrears for both non-AFDC and AFDC cases. GAO found that the availability of child support collection services for non-AFDC families varies among the states. Although agencies are required to follow up when non-AFDC child support is not paid, neither the federal government nor the states visited set any maximum allowable time for initiating followup. Among the sample of cases which GAO studied, nearly 80 percent of the new case absent parents were in payment arrears by the end of the the study period. The only federally prescribed collection requirement is that late payments be identified within 30 days and that payers be contacted as soon as possible. State and local officials cited lack of staff and smaller fiscal incentives for collecting non-AFDC rather than AFDC case support as reasons for service shortfalls. Finally, local child support agencies which GAO visited frequently do not follow up on past due payments for both non-AFDC and AFDC cases and generally lack operating policies and procedures for their collection and enforcement activities.

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