Child Support Enforcement: Effects of Declining Welfare Caseloads Are Beginning to Emerge

HEHS-99-105 Published: Jun 30, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1999.
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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, focusing on: (1) changes in CSE welfare collections since 1994; (2) the net savings/cost experiences of state and federal CSE programs; (3) those states that have experienced declines in CSE welfare collections and how these declines affected their state's CSE program funding; and (4) the future implications of caseload declines and welfare reform changes for the CSE program.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
CSE nonwelfare costs continue to rise as CSE welfare caseloads decline, signaling future declines in CSE revenues. Congress and the states may wish to reconsider the option of charging a minimum percentage service fee on CSE nonwelfare collections that would be shared at the same rate the federal government and states share administrative costs--two thirds and one-third, respectively. This would, to some extent, alleviate the growing financial burden to the federal government and states.
Closed – Implemented
A provision in the Personal Responsibility and Family Promotion Act of 2003 (H.R.-4) stated that in addition to current fees, states must impose an annual service fee on individuals who never received TANF assistance and for whom the state has collected at least $500. This approach would yield the same results as intended by GAO's recommendation--reduce the growing financial burden to the federal government and the states. The bill passed the House on February 13, 2003.

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