Child Support $ Hits a New High

Mayor Credits Collection Programs

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs and Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Robert Doar announced that the city’s Office of Child Support Enforcement collected a record-breaking $731 million dollars in 2011 with over 91 percent of these collections going directly to custodial parents.

This money, collected on behalf of 175,000 families, averages to $4,000 per family and is helping to support nearly a quarter-million New York City children. This year’s sum is an increase of 4.45 percent over the $700 million collected in calendar year 2010 and a cumulative increase of 53 percent since Bloomberg entered office in 2002.

Strong collection efforts, coupled with programs which remove barriers that might keep fathers from paying their child support, has led to the success of New York City’s program as one of the most effective in the nation, according to the Mayor’s office.

“Our city’s success in increasing child support collections is helping lift single parents out of poverty while also more actively engaging fathers in their kids’ lives,” said Bloomberg. “This year alone, by working together, we’ve helped a quarter million children get the support they need and deserve.”

“This is just one of many accomplishments by the Human Resources Administration to improve the economic well-being of families in New York City,” said Gibbs. “A strong belief in the ability of New York City fathers to step up to the challenges and joys of parenting has motivated an aggressive and tremendously successful campaign. Thanks to all the hard work of Commissioner Doar and his staff.”

“Child Support is a key antipoverty program that helps hundreds of thousands of low-income New Yorkers each year,” said Doar. “Providing emotional and financial support is the fundamental duty of anyone who fathers a child. A father’s support can lift a child out of poverty, giving that child a stable environment to grow up in and a better life now and in the future.”

The HRA’s Office of Child Support Enforcement is committed to ensuring New York City’s children receive support from both parents and, as part of Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative, has increased its outreach efforts to connect low-income fathers and young black and Latino men to employment and the formal child support program.

The Young Men’s Initiative is a $127 million enterprise aimed at tackling the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men. It is estimated that nearly three-quarters of noncustodial parents under 30 years of age are black or Latino. Studies show that children in families living at or below the federal poverty level perform better on all social indicators when a father is actively involved in their lives and connected to the child support program.

As a result of the city’s efforts, the Mayor’s office noted, more fathers are paying child support and they are paying in higher amounts. During the past year, the Office of Child Support Enforcement were directed by the Family Court to enforce some 284,000 orders of child support and they successfully secured child support payments in about 62 percent, or 175,000, of those cases, up from 53 percent back in 2004.

Additionally, between 2007 and 2011, the number of child support orders increased by 55 percent, the average child support income for cases with a payment increased by eight percent to $5,873, and the average collections per order went up by 24 percent to $2,592. Seven percent more fathers also paid their child support during this period.

In addition to record collections, the average number of families receiving a payment each month increased in 2011 to 124,523.

In New York City, child support income represents over 30 percent of the income for poor families in which mothers are head of the household and who receive child support payments. Child support collections added to earnings from employment and income from work supports including food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Medicaid help New Yorkers move out of poverty and toward self sufficiency, helping families attain financial stability and independence and decreasing their need for government support.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement currently manages 406,085 cases. These cases are divided into categories based on whether families have ever received cash welfare or not. Current cash welfare cases comprise 17 percent of the total caseload, former cash welfare comprises 47 percent and the remaining 36 percent consists of cases that have never received cash assistance.

Annually, former cash welfare families who received a child support collection get an average of $4,744. Over 135,000 families with a child support order are no longer receiving cash welfare. All families receiving cash welfare are required to comply with child support. All other families apply for services by visiting a child support worker located in the family court. Nearly 150,000 of the families receiving child support services do so voluntarily.

The city Law Department’s Interstate Child Support Unit appears on behalf of custodial parents who are seeking to establish paternity and to obtain child support from New York City residents. Last year the unit handled more than five thousand new cases filed on behalf of families living throughout the United States and in several countries. In addition, a custodial parent who lives in New York City may seek the unit’s assistance in filing for child support from parents who live outside the state and the country.

Last year, petitions for child support were filed against non-custodial parents living in 28 states and several countries including Australia, Candida, Germany, Israel, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The child support program also has a strong partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, with the Sheriff performing an important role in the Office of Child Support Enforcement’s effort to establish and enforce orders. Each year the Sheriff serves summons to more than 20,000 noncustodial parents who fail to show to court.

In addition to strong outreach and partnerships with community-based organizations, such as STRIVE, the DOE Fund and CEO, the Office of Child Support Enforcement programs that began or had expanded in 2011 and have contributed to the program’s success. They include:

Referring fathers to work programs. Reportedly, 5,600 fathers were referred last year resulting in 25 percent of them beginning to pay their child support or got a job.

Offering programs to help reduce past debt owed to the government. More than $8.5 million in child support debt has been reduced over the last two years increasing the number of fathers paying support by 40 percent.

Connecting parents to community mediation programs and community based organizations. For free or at low cost, parents can get help resolving disputes such as visitation and get assistance on co-parenting issues that can serve as a barrier to paying child support and could have negative consequences on children.

Implementing a problem solving court pilot program. To help fathers who fall behind in their payments.

Assisting incarcerated fathers on-site with information and guidance on their child support case. Weekly visits to Riker’s and Queens Boro Correctional facilities have led to over 2,100 individuals attending child support orientations and over 500 receiving guidance on their individual case.

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