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Child Support Plays an Increasingly Important Role for Poor Custodial Families

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Document date: December 01, 2010
Released online: December 17, 2010
Untitled Document

Abstract

The child support program has become a critical public program for children, serving 17 million children, representing nearly one in four children in the United States.  Among social welfare programs, only the Medicaid program serves more children.  It is also an important source of income for poor families, lifting a million people from poverty in 2008.  This brief describes the role of child support in reducing poverty and shows how poor custodial families have become more reliant upon child support. 

The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the entire brief in PDF format.


Key Findings

  • The Child Support Program serves nearly one in four children in the United States.
  • Without child support, child poverty would increase by 4.4 percent.
  • Child support represents, on average, 10 percent of poor custodial family income and 40 percent of income for poor custodial families who receive it.
  • For deeply poor custodial families, child support represents, on average, 15 percent of their family income and 63 percent of family income for those who receive it.

The child support program has become a critical public program for children, serving 17 million children, representing nearly one in four children in the United States. Among social welfare programs, only the Medicaid program serves more children. It is also an important source of income for poor families, lifting a million people from poverty in 2008.1 This brief describes the role of child support in reducing poverty and shows how poor custodial families have become more reliant upon child support.

Families are eligible for child support if they have a child with a parent living outside the home. These families are referred to as custodial families since they have custody of the children. Unlike other social welfare programs, child support is a private transfer, paid by the noncustodial parent and usually transferred to the custodial family through the child support enforcement program. The child support enforcement program is operated at the state and local level and regulated by the federal government.

End of excerpt. The entire brief, is available in PDF format.



Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Families and Parenting | Poverty, Assets and Safety Net


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