Update from Capitol Hill – April 20

The House and Senate appropriations committees have begun marking up the federal fiscal year 2017 spending bills. Both houses have started with bills that are typically bipartisan in nature, including funding for energy and water and military construction projects. Given the annual battles over abortion and funding for the Affordable Care Act, Congress not finalize the Labor-Health and Human Services measure until late in the year. Funding to administer the child support program, however, will continue throughout since it is classified as a mandatory spending program not subject to the annual appropriations process.

The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has issued two important documents in recent days. The FY 2015 preliminary data report provides data from all state child support programs on collections, expenditures, paternities, orders established, and other program statistics. FY 2015 highlights include: the program  served 15.9 million children; caseloads  declined by 2.5 percent; FTE staffing has decreased every year since 2006; and the cost effectiveness rate was $5.26.

OCSE also released the National Child Support Strategic Plan for 2015-2019 reflecting the collaborative efforts and diverse perspectives of state, tribal, and county child support agencies that — along with the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement — make up the national program.  The plan is organized around five principles that represent a coherent vision for the future of the program: 1. Families First; 2. Case Specific Tools; 3. Modern Technology; 4. Resourceful Partnership; and, 5. Evidence-Based.

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