Update from Capitol Hill – February 2018

Congress and the Administration Weigh in on Child Support

Inserted at the last minute to help pay for a child welfare bill, the February 2018 federal spending bill contained a provision raising the annual child support fee from $25 to $35 for child support program participants who have never received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.  The threshold triggering the fee was also increased from the current $500 in collections to $550.

NCSEA was not alone in being surprised at the move. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement was unaware of the ‘pay-for’ until the measure was essentially not open for amending, and many rank and file members of Congress did not see the bill until hours before it was adopted. The provision goes into effect October 1, 2018 unless the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determines a state needs to make modifications through their state legislature to meet the new requirement.

One week later, the Trump administration sent its FY 2019 budget proposals to Congress. While the full details have not been released, the general proposals  include creating a Child Support Technology Fund to help states replace their child support IT systems. The initiative envisions states using a new generation statewide system purchased by HHS, allowing the federal government to avoid reimbursing each state for the costs associated with building their new systems. The budget also would expand child support work requirements while allowing for limited federal funding to support employment and training services for non-custodial parents who are behind in their child support payments. Congress would have to pass legislation to enact these budget proposals.

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