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Journal Publication

Child Support Policy: Areas of Emerging Agreement and Ongoing Debate

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

June 17, 2024

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) system is important in providing resources to children who live apart from one of their parents. This is especially true in poor households. In this paper, we summarize the case in favor of the current CSE system, and address some key critiques. We then consider some long-term issues of concern, identifying areas of emerging agreement (at least between the two authors), and exploring some of the fundamental questions that remain to be addressed. We argue that CSE reduces child poverty, helps to promote parental responsibility especially for parents living apart from their children, and for many families is a convenience. Contrary to early proponents of the program, we argue that CSE should not be used for cost recovery; collected child support should always directly benefit children, not offset government costs. Finally, we outline areas of agreement and disagreement related to mandated cooperation with CSE. In this way, we aim to clarify both areas where bipartisan policy reforms may be more feasible, and areas that remain particularly challenging.

Read the full article here.