Before leaving for their July 4 recess, congressional leaders announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on child welfare, sex trafficking, adoption assistance and child support legislation. The agreement combines and reconciles three bills that the House passed and three bills adopted by the Senate Finance Committee. The House is expected consider the measure first after the July 4th recess and the Senate would follow suit shortly thereafter. There would be no amendments to the bill.
Title III of H.R. 4980 contains amendments to the child support program. The summary below is taken primarily from the congressional press release, with NCSEA providing further detail.
Improving Child Support
- Requires states to make necessary changes to implement the Hague Convention in enforcing international child support cases, increasing the amount of child support collected for families. (p. 65)
- Tribes will have direct access to the Federal Parent Locator Service. (p. 72)
- A sense of the Congress (no force of law) that establishing parenting time arrangements is an important goal. (p. 74)
- Requires federal data standardization within the child support enforcement program, improving administration in order to streamline child support with TANF, child welfare, Unemployment Insurance and SNAP. (p.75)
- Creates a task force within HHS, in conjunction with the OCSE strategic plan, with input from state, tribal and county child support directors, among others, to explore ways to improve the effectiveness of the child program. A report is due to Congress by June 30, 2015 (p.77)
- Requires all states to implement electronic processing of income withholding by October 1, 2015, as most states already do; saving taxpayers $48 million over 10 years. (p. 81)
The bill did not include:
- Language addressing the perceived conflict by some state courts between FFCCSOA and UIFSA. (The House Judiciary Committee has claimed jurisdiction and has not acted on it yet.)
- The Senate Finance Committee provision providing relief from passport sanctions in very limited circumstances.
- Giving tribes direct access to the federal tax refund offset. (Congress is working with OCSE and tribes to estimate possible federal savings realized due to administrative streamlining with this provision.)