- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Almost half of custodial parents received full child-support payments in 2001, a better trend toward compliance than has been recorded since the mid-1990s, the Census Bureau said in a report released yesterday.

About 45 percent of custodial parents received all the child-support payments they were due, with $5,800 the average annual amount paid, said Census Bureau analyst Timothy S. Grall.

Another 29 percent of custodial parents received “some” child-support payments.

In 1993, 37 percent of custodial parents received full payments and 39 percent of custodial parents received partial payments.

The 2001 data are “good news” because they reflect stable payments even in a recession, said Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, a child-support advocacy group based in Fredericksburg.

“We certainly have a long way to go yet” as the nonpayment rate for child support shouldn’t be any higher than the unemployment rate — 5 percent or so — Mrs. Jensen said.

States are often successful in withholding child-support payments from paychecks, she said, but they still struggle to collect support from parents who are self-employed or live out of state.

The new report, “Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2001,” said that 13.4 million parents had custody of 21.5 million children younger than 21.

Census data indicate that the number of children living in a home without both parents is growing: In 1999, 26.2 percent of all children younger than 21 who were living at home did so with just one parent. In 2001, this number edged up to 27.6 percent.

About 85 percent of custodial parents in 2001 were mothers, a figure that was statistically unchanged since 1994, the bureau said.

The report also found that in 2001 more custodial mothers were working and fewer lived in poverty.

About 52 percent of custodial mothers worked full time, year round in 2001, up from 41 percent in 1993. During the same time period, the portion of mothers who lived in poverty fell from 37 percent to 25 percent.

The number of mothers on welfare also fell sharply: In 1993, 26 percent of custodial mothers were in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. In 2001, 6 percent of mothers were on the new welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

In a separate report issued yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that TANF rolls fell slightly between March and June.

In June, 2,032,157 families were on TANF, HHS said. That was a 0.3 percent decrease from March and a 54 percent decrease from August 1996, when welfare reform was enacted.

The number of persons on TANF in June was 4,955,479, which was 0.6 percent fewer than in March and 60 percent fewer than in August 1996, HHS said.

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