- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2002

Almost half of custodial parents received the full amount of child-support payments they were due in 1999, a significant increase since 1993 and a sign that "income withholding" and other reforms are working, child-support advocates say.
In a report released Friday, the U.S. Census Bureau said that 45 percent of custodial parents received all the child support they were due in 1999.
This is significantly higher than in 1993, when less than 37 percent of parents got checks for the full support, said Timothy Grall, author of the census report.
The increase in full payments is likely linked to income withholding, a process in which part of a noncustodial parent's paycheck is sent directly to child-support enforcement agencies, said Geraldine Jensen, leader of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support (ACES) in Toledo, Ohio.
ACES first lobbied for income withholding in Ohio in 1985, and when the state adopted the policy, payments doubled, Ms. Jensen said.
Congress later passed a law requiring all states to adopt income-withholding policies by 1994. Then in 1996, it added more child-support reforms, such as computer systems to track new employees and central registries to keep cases updated.
The new census report shows that "a lot of progress has been made," said Paula Roberts, a child-support analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy.
"We're nowhere near where we need to be, but the news is really good," she said, adding that she wouldn't be surprised if in the census report for 2001 payment numbers "go up dramatically."
The 1999 data also show an increase in the number of custodial parents who work full-time and a decrease in poverty rates for single-parent families, the report said.
This "demonstrates once again that welfare reform in America is working," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said Friday.
Congress and the nation's governors "rejected the status quo six years ago," he said. "With the same boldness as in 1996, we need to move beyond the existing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program today's status quo and improve upon it so that it completes the transition of individuals from dependence upon a welfare check to the independence of a paycheck."
The often-praised 1996 welfare reform law expired Sept. 30 without the Senate passing a bill to reauthorize it. Congress passed a resolution to continue the program for three months, and there is an expectation that members will take up the issue during the lame-duck session next month.
According to the census report, in 1999:
An estimated 13.5 million parents had custody of 21.7 million children.
85 percent of custodial parents were mothers.
6.7 million parents were owed child support, with $4,755 the average amount due.
Almost 74 percent of parents received full or partial payments, with $2,791 the average amount received.
From 1993 to 1999, the number of full-time working custodial parents rose from 45.6 percent to 53.7 percent.
The number of custodial parents living in poverty fell from 33.3 percent in 1993 to 26.1 percent in 1999.
Custodial mothers received $17.6 billion (nearly 60 percent) of the $29.5 billion they were due in 1999. Custodial fathers received $1.4 billion (nearly 50 percent) of the $2.8 billion they were due.

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