Child Support Effectiveness Cited By OMB

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HHS News Release

HHS Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., today announced the federal child support enforcement program was cited by the Office of Management and Budget as being the highest rated social services program and block grant/formula program among all reviewed government-wide. The reviews are being conducted as part of budget process reforms under the President's management agenda aimed at ensuring government programs provide results that justify the public's investment. Programs are evaluated using the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) to develop program performance ratings for use in budget decisions.

The child support enforcement program is a federal/state/tribal partnership designed to help families by promoting family self-sufficiency and well-being. State child support agencies locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity when necessary, establish orders for support and collect child support payments for families. Over $20 billion was collected and distributed to families in Fiscal Year 2002. Largely as a result of new enforcement tools and capabilities provided under welfare reform, the program has shown marked improvement recently. Collections have increased 50% over the last five years.

"The PART evaluation confirms this is a program with a clear and unambiguous purpose, is well managed and provides results. It is not only beneficial to the children and families it helps, but the taxpayers as well," Horn said.

The program has evolved from its beginnings as a way to reimburse the government for welfare payments made to families to one in which the bulk of the collections go to families rather than government. In 2002, 89 percent of child support collections went to families.

"I'm proud of the child support enforcement program," said Sherri Z. Heller, Ed.D., Commissioner, Office of Child Support Enforcement. "Welfare reform is about getting families to where they can be self-sufficient. Child support is crucial to making that happen."

The federal government reimburses states 66 percent of the cost of administering the program, provided they are in compliance with federal child support law. Last year, almost $4 billion in federal funding was provided to states to help defray the cost.

In FY 2002, over $20.1 billion was collected at a combined state/federal cost of about $5.2 billion. "Collecting four dollars for every dollar spent is obviously a good investment," said Heller. "And, from the states' perspective, it's an even better investment since for every dollar a state spends on the program, it receives two dollars back from the federal government in matching funds. In essence, the federal government triples the states' investment in the program. That's a good deal for the states."

Contact: Chris Downing
ACF Press Office (202) 401-9215
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