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Child Support and TANF Reauthorization
July 23, 2009
Child Support Is an Important Part of the Safety Net.
o The child support program served 17 million children and collected $26.6 billion in owed
child support in FY 2008. Over 90% of the money collected, $24 billion, was distributed to
families; the rest went to reimburse federal and state public assistance.
o Services are available to families at all income levels. But most of the families served are
former or current TANF recipients (45% and 13%, respectively), and many of the 42% of
never-TANF cases are low- and moderate-income.
The Child Support Program Is Threatened by Funding Cuts Next Year.
o Child support collection rates have doubled over the past 10 years, with the biggest
improvements for the poorest families. However, a 20% cut in funding included in the
Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 could reverse this progress.
o Funding for child support was restored by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act –
but only through September 30, 2010.
Child Support and TANF Are Separate but Related Programs.
o TANF cash assistance recipients must assign their right to child support to the state while
receiving TANF. (Assignment of pre-assistance arrears eliminated as of October 1, 2009.)
o TANF recipients must cooperate with the state in establishing paternity and collecting child
support unless they have good cause not to, such as domestic violence.
o Most child support collected while a family receives TANF is retained by the states and
shared with the federal government. However, the federal share is waived if a state pays the
child support to the family and disregards it in calculating TANF assistance, up to $100 for
one child, $200 for two or more children.
Half of the states (26) do not pass through or disregard any child support. Nine states
have a $50 passthrough/disregard; six states have a passt