Policy & Practice
The Family Support Act of 1988 and the 1996 welfare reform act recognized the need to help low-income fathers stay involved with their families, financially as well as emotionally. The laws required states to offer AFDC assistance to two parent families in which the primary wage earner was not employed. They also encouraged states to establish education, employment, and training assistance to noncustodial fathers of low income children so that they could obtain the level of employment needed to fulfill child support obligations. Reform policies have also tried to amend state practices regarding the distribution of child support payments received from noncustodial parents for families receiving welfare benefits. The law created flexible arrangements that would increase the proportion of the payment sent to the families. However, most states have retained their previous practice of withholding $50 of each payment to cover the costs of their welfare programs. States should restructure their child support system to create a more efficient method for collecting and distributing child support payments. The payments themselves should not be used to fund the program. Instead, states should allocate a portion of their general revenue for this purpose. In addition, the child support programs should be more respectful and responsive toward fathers. 2 references.
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