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Does Child Support Need an Update?
clock June 15, 2012 13:52 by author Admin
[Excerpt from The Root]

Timed for Father's Day weekend, on Friday the White House Domestic Policy Council issued a new report detailing the Obama administration's various initiatives to encourage fatherhood and healthy families.

"One out of every three children in America -- over 24 million in total -- lives in a home without their biological father present," reads the introduction to the report, entitled Promoting Responsible Fatherhood (pdf), which continues to say that many noncustodial dads who try to do the right thing are challenged by unemployment and underemployment. "Data show that low-income men from communities of color are significantly more likely to be nonresident fathers than resident fathers."

Among the continuing efforts touted in the report are Health and Human Services Department grants for community organizations that provide services such as parenting classes, financial or child-support management and healthy-relationships education; as well as the Justice Department-led Federal Interagency Reentry Council, which reaches fathers leaving the criminal justice system to help them reconnect to their families and enter the workforce.

Also tucked inside the report are two policy announcements around the child-support system. This year the administration will issue state waivers that link unemployed, noncustodial parents (usually fathers) to work-oriented services such as job-training and job-search assistance.

Instead of using federal dollars to prosecute unemployed fathers who can't afford their monthly child-support orders, the waivers will let state child-support-enforcement offices reallocate their federal funds toward services that better address the financial barriers that often keep these dads from meeting their obligations.

In addition, HHS recently announced that it will award more than $10 million in competitive grants for states to otherwise implement employment services for low-income noncustodial parents.

"There are guys who don't have the economic means, for various reasons, to pay, and for a lot of low-income dads it becomes insurmountable debt," Joseph T. Jones, the president and founder of the Center for Urban Families, told The Root. "Then the child-support system expends resources to incarcerate them, compounding the issue because even while the father's in jail, the debt continues to accrue."

Read the rest of the story here »
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