Child Support:

States' Implementation of the 1984 Child Support Enforcement Amendments

HRD-86-40BR: Published: Dec 24, 1985. Publicly Released: Jan 7, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO conducted a telephone survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine the extent to which they had implemented 10 mandatory practices in the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984. GAO also obtained information from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Child Support Enforcement on federal approval of states' requests for implementation delays and exemptions.

The Child Support Enforcement Program is a federally administered, state-run program established to require absent parents to support their children and, as a result, to reduce Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Program spending. In 1984, Congress enacted amendments to improve the program's ability to: (1) mandate proven collection techniques; (2) ensure that services will be available to non-AFDC families; and (3) strengthen interstate child support enforcement. The amendments required that the states implement 10 mandatory practices by October 1, 1985, unless they were granted a delay to allow for enactment of the needed legislation or were exempted from enacting one or more of the requirements. The mandatory practices are: (1) income withholding; (2) tracking and monitoring of withheld support payments; (3) expedited state processes; (4) state income tax refund offset; (5) liens on real and personal property; (6) posting securities; (7) paternity statutes; (8) reporting overdue payments to credit agencies; (9) notice to AFDC recipients of amounts collected; and (10) an application fee for non-AFDC clients. GAO found that: (1) none of the 10 practices were fully implemented by all the states; (2) more than half of the states had fully implemented 8 practices; (3) 4 states had implemented all of the practices; (4) 2 states had implemented all but 1 of the practices; (5) 44 states and the District of Columbia had fully implemented some of the practices; (6) 10 states were granted exemptions; and (7) 5 states were granted delays for 1 or more of the practices.

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