Archive for the ‘child_support’ Category

Infographic – Child Support: The Hidden Social Safety Net

April 29, 2015child_support, family instability

The Hidden Social Safety Net: a look at how child support payments compare to more traditional forms of family support.

CFRPInfographic_HiddenSocialSafetyNet_052015

Click for: PDF versionCitations

Box # 1: “Almost one in four children are in the U.S. child support system”

Child enrollment numbers calculated by dividing official 2013 caseload data for each program by the total U.S. child population in 2013 as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Child Support Enforcement. (2014, April). FY2013 Preliminary Report – Table P-3. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/fy2013-preliminary-report-table-p-3

United States Department of Agriculture. Office of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. (2015, April). WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) FY2013 Monthly Data – State Level Participation by Category and Program Costs. Retrieved from: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/pd/WICAgencies2013ytd.xls

United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Family Assistance. (2014, May). TANF Caseload Data 2013 – Total Children. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/main/2013_children_tan.pdf

United States Department of Commerce. U.S. Census Bureau. (2013, July). Current Population Reports. Table POP1. Child population: Number of children (in millions) ages 0–17 in the United States by age, 1950–2013 and projected 2014–2050. Retrieved from: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/pop1.asp

Box #2: “How do child support payments help families?”

Bullet 1: United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Child Support Enforcement. (2014, February). History demonstrates child support lifts children out of poverty. Commissioner’s Voice blog. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/blogs/voice/2014/02/05/history-demonstrates-child-support-lifts-children-out-of-poverty/comment-page-1/

Bullet 2: United States Department of Commerce. U.S. Census Bureau. (2014, October). The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2013. Table 5a. Retrieved from: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-251.pdf

Bullet 3: United States Department of Commerce. U.S. Census Bureau. (2013, October). Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2011, Detailed Tables. Table 5. Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/people/childsupport/data/files/chldsu11.pdf

Box #3: “Average Monthly Assistance per Family in 2011”

Calculations correspond to each program’s average benefit per family in the program.

Child Support Owed and Received: United States Department of Commerce. U.S. Census Bureau. (2013, October). Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2011, Detailed Tables. Table 5. Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/people/childsupport/data/files/chldsu11.pdf. Note: Yearly benefit totals divided by 12 to reflect monthly averages.

TANF: United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Family Assistance. (2013, October). Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2011. Table 41. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ofa/appendix_fy2011_final_amend.pdf

SNAP: United States Department of Agriculture. Office of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. (2015, April). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Average Monthly Benefit Per Household. Retrieved from: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/pd/19SNAPavg$HH.pdf

EITC: United States Department of the Treasury. Internal Revenue Service. (2014, October). Statistics for 2010 Tax Year Returns with EITC. Retrieved from: http://www.eitc.irs.gov/EITC-Central/eitcstats/2010. Note: Average credit divided by 12 to reflect a monthly average. The EITC accounts for family size and number of children when determining the amount of the credit, permitting the average tax credit to be compared with the average assistance received by family units in other programs.

WIC: United States Department of Agriculture. Office of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. (2015, April). WIC Program: Average Monthly Benefit Per Person. Retrieved from: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/pd/25wifyavgfd$.pdf; Johnson, B., et al. (2013). WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2012. Prepared by Insight Policy Research under Contract No. AG-3198-C-11-0010. Alexandria, VA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Retrieved from: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/WICPC2012.pdf. Note: “Average number of household members receiving WIC benefits” calculated using weighted averages of each Region and State in Table E.14 of “WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2012”. The average number of household members receiving WIC benefits was then multiplied by WIC’s average monthly benefit per person in 2012 to arrive at the average monthly assistance per family.

 

A Father’s Support: More to it Than the Money

March 30, 2015child_support, economic security, fathers

78773852_modAfter seven years in conversation with nearly 400 low-income men, authors of a new study in the Journal of Marriage and Family are lending fresh insight into the ways that low-income fathers support their children in other households. Drawing on repeated semi-structured interviews, Kane, Nelson and Edin find that poor noncustodial fathers provide surprising amounts of support in the form of diapers, clothes, food, and childcare. These non-cash goods and services, referred to as in-kind support, make up about one-quarter of the overall support nonresident fathers provide, and total an average of $60 per month in value. Though paternal support has traditionally been thought of in financial terms, a more comprehensive accounting of fathers’ contributions reveals that in-kind goods and services make up a significant portion of their efforts.

Though paternal support has traditionally been thought of in financial terms, a more comprehensive accounting of fathers’ contributions reveals that in-kind goods and services make up a significant portion of their efforts.

Talk to a noncustodial father though, and he may not think of buying shoes and toys as support at all. In fact, Kane et al. note that the overwhelming characterization of in-kind support by fathers is relational, not financial. Sharing a meal with one’s child is seen as a way of bonding—not a mental calculation involving some share of the child’s overall cost.

To help paint a more comprehensive picture of in-kind support, CFRP analyzed how often Texas men who fathered a child outside of marriage contribute things such as clothes, childcare, food, medicine, or toys by the time the child is 3 years old. Importantly, these fathers established paternity in the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, making an initial commitment to the child and setting themselves apart from the smaller segment of fathers who sidestepped legal parenthood at the birth and are apt to provide much less. Among this group who established legal paternity at the birth, 6 in 10 are still living with the mother and child three years later. For these fathers, the provision of in-kind support is built into their daily lives with the family.

For the remaining 40 percent of fathers who do not live with the mother however, in-kind support is far less assured. When asked how often nonresident fathers provide things such as clothes, food, medicine, toys, or childcare, 4 in 10 mothers report that the father never provides these things, while another 28 percent say that the father only contributes in this way a handful of times throughout the year [Figure 1]. The majority of fathers who fail to provide in-kind support also fail to provide informal financial support, and 54 percent are already in the formal child support system by the time their child is 3 years old (not shown). Though it’s possible that entry into the formal system causes some fathers who were providing in-kind support to dial down or terminate their contributions, a likely scenario for many is that the father was never providing in-kind support to begin with. In these cases, the child support system acts as a safety net, jumpstarting the flow of support and lifting the economic wellbeing of children in its care.

Figure 1: Frequency of In-Kind Support

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For more: CFRP’s research on Father Involvement and Support

 

– by Daniel Dillon, Senior Research Associate

 

CFRP in the News: FiveThirtyEight and NPR

March 2, 2015cfrp, child_support, osborne

Are Moms Less Likely than Dads to Pay Child Support? 

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight’s Mona Chalibi asks this interesting question and has a surprising answer. CFRP Director, Dr. Cynthia Osborne, was asked to help explain. The story was also produced as a radio segment on NPR that aired yesterday, March 1st. See below for links.

Dr. Osborne is director of the Child and Family Research Partnership at The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and studies poverty and inequality, family and child well-being, and family demography. She has extensive experience in long-term evaluations of state and national programs and related issues, including child supporthome visiting, and father participation.

 

SEE ON FIVETHIRTYEIGHT

Click here or below for the full story.

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LISTEN ON NPR

Click here or below to listen to the story aired March 1, 2015.

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New Published Paper in Journal of Applied Research on Children

February 10, 2015child_support, paternity

Congratulations to Dr. Cynthia Osborne and Daniel Dillon on their newest published paper in the Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 5: Iss. 2: “Dads on the Dotted Line: A Look at the In-Hospital Paternity Establishment Process.”

ABSTRACT

CaptureIn the U.S., two out of five children are born to unmarried parents. These children do not have a legal father until paternity is established, a process completed by most families in the hospital at the time of the birth. Over the last 30 years, the percentage of unmarried parents voluntarily establishing paternity in the hospital has climbed considerably, driven in large part by a series of policy changes aimed at easing and incentivizing the process. Despite the apparent success of these policies, few have examined the mechanics of the paternity establishment process itself to understand whether it is functioning optimally for parents and hospitals. Further, few have sought an understanding of why parents do or do not establish paternity. Drawing on original data collected through two separate studies, this paper presents a descriptive portrait of the paternity establishment process from two perspectives—that of unmarried parents and that of birth registrars, the certified hospital staff who administer the process. Data come from the Paternity Establishment Study (PES), a longitudinal birth cohort study of approximately 800 Texas mothers who gave birth outside of marriage in 2013, and the Nonmarital Birth and Registration (NBAR) study, an online survey of 555 hospital staff members certified to register births in Texas conducted in January of 2014. In addition, we incorporate data from a roundtable discussion with staff from the Child Support Division who oversee the in-hospital paternity establishment program. We find that despite heavy workloads, high turnover, relatively low wages, and varying levels of support from hospital management, birth registrars are largely effective in their execution of the in-hospital paternity establishment process, guiding a remarkable 90 percent of parents who are both at the hospital to establish paternity. Despite these successes, birth registrars continue to confront issues that lie outside of their training, experience, and legal knowledge; third-party AOPs, disputed paternity, and family violence cases deserve special consideration, and underscore the need to recognize circumstances in which it may be preferable for a father to establish paternity through alternate means. Our findings call for a more nuanced perspective on the objectives of paternity establishment, and highlight the need for clear and consistent protocols to address the more complex circumstances that birth registrars face.

 
 

New CFRP Project: How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child in Texas?

August 21, 2014cfrp, child_support, economic security

corcHow much does it cost to raise a child in Texas? Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin and Director of the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP), and her team have been tasked to answer that question for the Texas Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division (OAG).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released their Expenditures on Children by Families report with 2013 data. The report shows that a middle-income family in the U.S. is projected to spend $245,340 on a child born in 2013 up to age 18 for food, housing, childcare and education, and other child-rearing expenses. The report also shows that to raise that child in the urban South region, including Texas, is actually lower at $230,610.

However, after a comprehensive review of the Texas Child Support guidelines for the OAG, Dr. Osborne and CFRP determined that the USDA expenditure data are not a suitable source for determining the cost of raising a child in Texas:

  • The USDA data provide only broad expenditure categories for primarily higher income, two-parent families and do not provide the regional variation in costs that may be applicable to Texas families, particularly lower-income families who are more likely to be recipients of child support.
  • Texas is part of the USDA’s urban South region, but the region includes Delaware and the District of Columbia, neither of which are comparable to Texas with respect to cost of living or geographic context.
  • In addition, the expenditure data provide estimates only on what families spend, but provide less information on what the real costs of raising a child include. Costs may be met by families in a variety of ways, such as income from earnings, borrowing, reliance on public assistance, forgoing the good, or spending more than is necessary.
  • The USDA data does not provide information on the costs of raising a child across two households, which is the reality for most children in the child support system. For example, children live most of their time with the custodial parent, but spend a proportion of their time in the noncustodial parent’s household.

Creating a cost estimation model specifically for Texas families and with our high needs populations in mind will result in an invaluable tool for policymakers and programs,” said Dr. Osborne. “It will be the first Texas-specific model and the impact could reach far beyond child support.

As they develop the estimation model of the cost of raising a child in Texas, Dr. Osborne and CFRP will attempt to identify the actual costs associated with childrearing and also illustrate how families across various income levels and social circumstances meet these costs. The model will be replicable on an annual basis and use data that are available publicly at no cost.

“We’ve already started the groundwork and are eager to see how the model develops. Creating a cost estimation model specifically for Texas families and with our high needs populations in mind will result in an invaluable tool for policymakers and programs,” said Dr. Osborne. “It will be the first Texas-specific model and the impact could reach far beyond child support.”

The project research team is led by Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Associate Professor and CFRP Director, and Dr. Kaeley Bobbitt, Senior Policy Analyst. For more about the Estimation Model for Cost of Raising Children in Texas project, go to http://childandfamilyresearch.org/research/corc/.

 

How Unmarried Fathers Support Their Children

March 25, 2014child_support, economic security, fathers, paternity

[Related post: When Dads Commit, Kids Benefit]

In addition to providing emotional support to their children, fathers play a crucial role in their children’s development through the provision of financial support. Children with supportive fathers do better across a wide range of cognitive and behavioral domains—from greater academic achievement and improved health to lower rates of delinquency and depression. For some children, the financial support of their fathers can even mean the difference between living above or below the poverty line.

Though there is little doubt that children benefit from financially supportive fathers, more than 2 in 5 children in the U.S. are born to fathers who have no legal obligation to support them. Children born to unmarried parents do not have a legal father until paternity is established, a process completed by most families in the hospital at the time of birth. In Texas, 7 in 10 fathers establish paternity by signing an in-hospital Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. Over time, roughly one-quarter of these AOP-signing families will enter the formal child support system. Little is known, however, about the three-quarters of AOP-signing families who remain outside the formal child support system, and how fathers in these families support their children, if it all. A better understanding of how unmarried fathers support their children when no legal obligation is present can help shed light on whether the child support system is succeeding in its efforts to ensure children are supported, and may improve targeting for resources aimed at addressing lingering gaps in support.

Drawing on survey data collected from two statewide cohorts of Texas mothers who gave birth outside of marriage, CFRP provides an overview in the How Unmarried Fathers Support Their Children brief of how AOP-signing fathers support their children financially in the years following a nonmarital birth. Not only have these fathers made the initial commitment to their children through establishing paternity, but their status as legal fathers means they have the ability to provide support through both formal and informal means.

Click here for the entire How Unmarried Fathers Support Their Children brief.

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For the entire series of related briefs:

  1. Who Establishes Paternity? 
  2. Why Parents Establish Paternity
  3. Fathers in the First Few Months: A Study of Unmarried Fathers and Their Children
  4. How Unmarried Fathers Support Their Children

When Dads Commit, Kids Benefit

February 27, 2014child_support, fathers, paternity

463398715_smFathers have a profound and far-reaching impact on their children, shaping everything from academic performance and impulse control to social development and the capacity for empathy. But while the research is clear on the importance of fathers, many children are in danger of growing up in father-absent families. In fact, a majority of births to women under 30 happen outside of marriage—and divorce rates for those who do marry have blown past 40 percent. Together, these trends have left 1 in 3 children without a biological father in the home—a significant disadvantage associated with higher rates of school dropout, behavioral problems, and teen pregnancy.

These are just some of the findings marshalled by Lois Collins and Marjorie Cortez on behalf of fathers and their historically undervalued role as co-parents in an article published this week in the Atlantic. As the authors make clear, though research has long noted the benefits of involved fatherhood, public policy has been slow to offer solutions geared toward troubled fathers themselves. “We have valued men as wallets more than as dads,” they write, quoting a recent commission report to the White House. As a result, fathers have found little to affirm their larger purpose as parents amidst the panoply of government programs historically stacked against them. But it’s not all bad news for today’s young dads. At the federal level, recent efforts have been made to create father-focused policies around paternal involvement, job training, and healthy-marriage initiatives. And organizations like STRIVE International, the Annie E Casey Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have stepped in with new male-focused initiatives of their own.

Discussions around the importance of involved fatherhood and how policy should respond to the challenges of today’s dynamic families intersect with the heart of CFRP’s research and policy agenda.  Drawing on survey data collected from two statewide cohorts of Texas mothers, CFRP developed a series of research briefs exploring the intersection of nonmarital childbirth, parental relationships, father involvement, and support. The latest brief in this series, Fathers in the First Few Months, takes stock of how fathers are involved with their children shortly after a nonmarital birth, and considers how policy might play a role in bettering the prospects of today’s most at-risk children.

– by Daniel Dillon, Staff Research Associate

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[Updated March 2014] For the entire series of related briefs:

  1. Who Establishes Paternity? 
  2. Why Parents Establish Paternity
  3. Fathers in the First Few Months: A Study of Unmarried Fathers and Their Children
  4. How Unmarried Fathers Support Their Children

About Parental Relationships from the Texas PES Study

February 14, 2014child_support, fathers, paternity

Did you know…

Relationship Duration of Unmarried Parents prior to Pregnancy

In Texas, almost half of parents giving birth outside of marriage were dating for more than 2 years before the mother became pregnant.

2014_0214_b_graphonly

 

Relationship Status of Unmarried Parents: 3 Months after Birth

In Texas, the vast majority of parents who give birth outside of marriage are dating or living together 3 months after the birth of their child.

2014_0214_a_graphonly

 

Source: CFRP Paternity Establishment Study, April-May 2013. http://childandfamilyresearch.org/research/paternity.

CFRP Director Cynthia Osborne Presenting at 2014 NCSEA Policy Conference

February 6, 2014cfrp, child_support, osborne

ncseaCFRP Director, Dr. Cynthia Osborne, is in D.C. this week to share her expertise in program evaluation and in paternity issues at the 2014 National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) Policy Conference. The conference theme, “Putting Policy into Action for the Modern Family,” is right inline with the work we do at CFRP.

Dr. Osborne is presenting at two relevant sessionsSystematically Evaluating Impacts of Policy and Operational Changes in the IV-D Program and New Frontiers in Paternity Establishment. See below for full descriptions, and click here for the full conference program. We hope you get to see her. To learn about what CFRP is doing in these areas – go to our Research page.


Systematically Evaluating Impacts of Policy and Operational Changes in the IV-D Program
(Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 1:30-3:00 pm EST)

The story of the IV-D program is one of innovation and change. But how do programs determine the value or impact of innovations? How does a state know when it makes sense to evaluate a program innovation or policy change? What kind of evaluation methods should be used? What are reasonable evaluation costs? Who should do the evaluation? What have state programs learned from working with evaluators/researchers? Consider this plenary a free policy evaluation “consultation” with a panel composed of nationally recognized social science researchers with extensive IV-D experience Their presentation will be facilitated by Washington State IV-D Director, Wally McClure – who will draw on his experience working with university and private research organizations to keep it real and relevant for IV-D program administrators The panel will address some of the general questions about policy and program evaluation and provide examples from some recently completed studies, but the primary focus will be in responding to evaluation topics picked by NCSEA Policy Conference attendees through a pre-conference survey.

  • Moderator: Wally McClure (Washington)
  • Speakers: John Topagna (ECONnorthwest), Maria Cancian (University of Wisconsin), Cynthia Osborne (University of Texas at Austin-Child and Family Research Partnership); Jessica Pearson (Center for Policy Research)
  • Follow up Plenary III with three breakout workshops that will do a “deep dive” into recently completed and newly launched research/evaluation on three big policy issues: paternity establishment, NCP employment programs and moving NCPs out of the underground economy And provide your input on a new, major fatherhood research effort funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

New Frontiers in Paternity Establishment (Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 3:15-4:30pm EST)

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity -twenty years have passed since its inception – a conversation about its impact on children and families is long overdue Join nationally recognized experts as they discuss the latest research findings and a cutting edge program designed to give every newborn a “Bright Start.”

  • Moderator: Mary Morrow (Illinois)
  • Speakers: Cynthia Osborne (University of Texas at Austin- Child and Family Research Partnership); John Topagna (ECONorthwest)

Click for more about Dr. Cynthia Osborne.

 

Evaluation of CS4C Program Leads to Policy Changes

January 23, 2014asset building, child_support

139661970smCFRP’s evaluation of the Child Support for College (CS4C) program has helped spur a rule change at the Texas State Securities Board that will help Texas families receive professional assistance when signing up for college savings programs.

One of the barriers encountered by CS4C, an 18-month pilot program designed to incentivize college savings among those in the Texas child support population, was a set of legal restrictions around the type of assistance financial coaches could provide to clients interested in college savings accounts. Regulations enacted by the Texas Securities Act prohibited financial coaches from providing guidance or financial advice to clients unless coaches were officially registered with the State Securities Board –a lengthy process involving extensive background investigations, tests on securities law and principles, compliance with record-keeping and disclosure requirements, and annual renewal.

Because many financial coaches working with disadvantaged populations are employed through community organizations, few are registered as official dealers, agents, or investment advisers. Under the old rule, these coaches were severely restricted in their ability to help clients navigate the complex menu of investment options, leading some clients to forgo college savings accounts altogether.

Recognizing this as a substantial barrier to saving for college, RAISE Texas, one of the primary stakeholders in the CS4C program, began to work with the Texas State Securities Board to draft a new rule allowing financial coaches to assist families and individuals in completing applications for approved college savings programs, such as the Texas 529 plan. In addition, the proposed rule would permit financial coaches to actively provide information on these savings programs to clients. On January 14, 2014 the Texas State Securities Board approved and passed these changes in rule 139.24.

In practice, the rule change provides a registration exemption for charitable organizations and their financial coaches when assisting economically disadvantaged clients with Texas qualified tuition program plans. The new rule represents an important step forward in efforts to facilitate college savings among disadvantaged populations in Texas, and would not have been possible without the commitment of CS4C stakeholders and advocates.

Click for more information about the CS4C program evaluation and the full evaluation report.

–by Daniel Dillon, Research Associate

New CFRP Report about Father Involvement after a Nonmarital Birth

November 14, 2013child_support, economic security, fathers, paternity

cfrp_report_cover_thumbThe percentage of nonmarital births in the United States doubled between 1980 and 2011. Currently in Texas, 42 percent of recent births are to unmarried mothers. This dramatic rise in the number of nonmarital births is of growing concern because of the precarious economic status of single parents (most often mothers) and children. Moreover, there are a host of negative social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes associated with children who live in poor single-parent families, especially when those families lack involved and supportive fathers.

One strategy to promote a father’s financial and emotional investment in his child—while also formalizing the legal rights and responsibilities of fatherhood—is to encourage the establishment of paternity. Paternity establishment is the legal determination of fatherhood. It serves as a tool to promote responsibility, encourage father involvement, and provide legal access to a cadre of attendant benefits and rights. Furthermore, research shows that fathers who voluntarily sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form in the hospital are more likely to be involved and supportive, which can lead to improved child outcomes.

In CFRP’s newest report, A Portrait of Father Involvement and Support in the First Three Years after a Nonmarital Birth, we examine the intersection of in-hospital acknowledgment of paternity (AOP), formal child support, informal support, parental relationships, and father involvement. The report’s aim is to give a broad understanding of the characteristics associated with each topic. To address the research aims related to this report, CFRP conducted two separate studies: The Paternity Establishment Study (PES) and Checking in with AOP Signers (CAS) Study. Information from the PES and CAS studies are used extensively throughout the report.

Full report: A Portrait of Father Involvement and Support in the First Three Years after a Nonmarital Birth.

Click for CFRP policy briefs, posts, and more about Paternity Establishment and Father Involvement.

New Report about Child Support Issues of Military Families

November 11, 2013child_support, military

heroes_smAlthough unmarried soldier and veteran parents are more likely than their civilian counterparts to have a formal child support and visitation order, they often face unique challenges caused by their military service that make it difficult for them to meet their parenting and child support obligations. Frequent changes in station, lengthy deployments, concomitant changes in pay, combat-related stress, and transitions to veteran status are fundamental elements of military service, but they can pose challenges for noncustodial parents to pay a fair amount of child support and to co-parent their children; and for custodial parents to receive adequate child support and share their children as agreed upon.

The challenges associated with military service are consequential to all parties involved, including the child support system, the military, and the families. In the end, it is the children and families for which these issues matter most. Children benefit from the financial and emotional commitment of both parents, and soldiers and veterans deserve special attention to help resolve the issues regarding their child support and parenting obligations that are often made more difficult due to their service to this country.

A new CFRP report, Child Support & the Military: Efforts to Help Our Heroes, provides an overview of the challenges military service may pose with regard to child support and parenting obligations, as well as a review of Texas and other states’ and federal efforts to address these important challenges. The report concludes with a summary of recommendations that the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), state legislatures, judiciary, state child support offices, and the military should consider to ensure that soldiers and veterans are well-served, military readiness is maintained, the burden on state child support systems is reduced, and children have the support they need.

Information in the report is drawn from a rigorous evaluation of the HEROES Project conducted by the Child and Family Research Partnership at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin under the direction of Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D.

 

Two “Child Support for College” Initiative Asset-Building Events

October 22, 2013asset building, child_support

99680076mod2Over the next few weeks, CFRP is presenting preliminary findings from the program evaluation of an innovative asset-building program in the state of Texas, the Child Support for College (CS4C) initiative. The pilot year of the CS4C program just wrapped up, and now there are two opportunities to learn about the program and lessons learned from the evaluation, as well participate in the larger asset-building discussion.

Dr. Cynthia Osborne, with staff researchers Laura Bellows and Daniel Dillon, is presenting at a special forum on October 25, 2013 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.  The forum, Seeding the College Dream: Results from the Child Support for College Asset-Building Initiative, will include an informative overview of CS4C, initial findings and conclusions, and a discussion of a panel of experts.  Click for more info about the forum.

Dr. Osborne is also participating in an upcoming webinar, Supporting Children’s Futures: Turning Child Support into College Saving, hosted by the national asset-building organization, CFED, on November 12, 2013.  Dr. Osborne will be sharing the results of the evaluation of CS4C and how lessons learned in Texas could be applied to efforts in other states.  Click here to register for the free webinar.

CFRP’s full evaluation report will be available in December 2013.

Child Support for College (CS4C) is a unique pilot program administered by RAISE Texas that works with the families who are a part of the 1.4 million case Texas child support system.  Many of these families have low levels of income and wealth and therefore have difficulties saving for their child’s education. For some of these families, child support contributions from the noncustodial to the custodial parent may provide the necessary infusion of resources to seed and support college savings. CS4C addresses this opportunity by promoting parent savings for their child(ren)’s future college education and providing access to financial coaches.

 

The CAS Study: Increasing Father Involvement Through Paternity Establishment

May 22, 2013child_support, economic security, fathers, paternity

153148996_smTwo married parents living in one household with their children once comprised the normative family in the United States. Today, approximately 41 percent of children are born to unmarried parents and nearly one third of children live apart from at least one of their biological parents.1 These changes in family structure are cause for concern because unmarried fathers have no automatic legal ties to their children, and children living apart from at least one parent are considerably more likely to live in poverty and spend less time with the noncustodial parent.2

One strategy to ensure that unmarried fathers have legal ties to their children and to improve their financial and emotional investment in their children is to establish paternity in the hospital at the time of birth through parental signing of an Acknowledgement of Paternity Form (AOP).

The CFRP team has been conducting multiple large scale surveys over the last few months, as part of a paternity establishment project funded by the Texas Office of the Attorney General – Child Support Division (OAG). The first, called the Checking-in with AOP Signers (CAS) Study, recently wrapped up, and it examines the important role that fathers play in their children’s lives. For the study, CFRP targeted a geographically representative group of Texas families who had a child outside of marriage and established paternity in the hospital. Some of the families recruited to participate had entered the child support system and others had not.

Preliminary findings of the CAS Study show that approximately 69% of the fathers were living with their child’s mother when the child was born. Before the child’s fourth birthday, however, this initial involvement began to fade for many families. By the time the child was 3-1/2 years old, fewer than two out of five fathers lived with their child. With regard to financial support, of fathers who established paternity for their child at birth, approximately one-third enter the formal child support system by the time the child is 3-1/2, although not all of these fathers provide support regularly. Of the fathers who are not in the formal child support system or living with their child, fewer than half (48%) provide any form of financial or in-kind support to the mother and child. The CAS Study is investigating factors that may increase and prolong father involvement and support as well as topics such as the understanding of paternity establishment among Hispanic mothers, the effect of multiple births on mothers’ knowledge of paternity and child support, domestic violence and child support compliance, and many more topics affecting the wellbeing of Texas families. Additional findings from the CAS Study will be released later this year.

Sources:

  1. Martin J.A., Hamilton B.E., Ventura, S.J., Osterman, M.J.K., Kirmeyer, S., Mathews, T.J., & Wilson, E.C. (2011). Births: Final data for 2009. National Vital Statistics Reports, 60(1). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarry.htm
  2. US Census Bureau. (2010). [Table C3 September 21, 2011]. Living arrangements of children under 18 Years/1 and marital status of parents, by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin/2 and selected characteristics of the child for all children: 2010. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh‐fam/cps2010.html.