(21) Over 1/2 of State prison inmates are parents. When noncustodial parents go to prison, most of them are required to pay their child support obligation, even though they have little ability to pay the support. When these parents leave prison, they typically owe more than $20,000 in child support debt. Noncustodial parents leaving prison often re-enter the underground economy because of financial pressures or to avoid the child support system, making it less likely that they will successfully rejoin society and reunite with their families.
(22) Children should receive the child support paid by their parents, and the government should not keep the money to recover welfare costs. Regular child support income appears to have a greater positive impact on children dollar for dollar than other types of income. Researchers in Wisconsin found that when monthly child support was passed through to families receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program established under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act (TANF) and disregarded 100 percent in determining assistance for the families, fathers paid more child support, established their legal relationship with their children more quickly, and worked less in the underground economy. Moreover, the State costs of a full pass-through and disregard of child support were fully offset by increased payments by fathers and decreased public assistance use by families.
(23) Funding spent on Federal child support collection is cost-effective, especially when it addresses fathers’ particular circumstances and passes payments through to the family. The child support program collects $5.12 in support payments for families for every public dollar spent.
(24) The Department of Health and Human Services National Child Support Enforcement Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2005 through 2009 states that ‘child support is no longer a welfare reimbursement, revenue-producing device for the Federal and State governments; it is a family-first program, intended to ensure families’ self-sufficiency by making child support a more reliable source of income’.
(25) Current law permits States to apply the cost of passing through child support to families receiving assistance under the TANF program toward their maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements, but only to the extent that the State disregards the child support payments in determining TANF eligibility and payment amount.
(26) While the Federal Government has over 40 programs that provide some funding for employment and training, the United States is near the bottom of industrialized nations in spending on ‘active labor market policy’. Low-income men have become increasingly disconnected from school and work–and increasingly poor. A large portion of those men are non-custodial fathers.
(27) The negative effect of a criminal conviction is substantially larger for Blacks than for Whites.
(28) African-Americans constitute only 14 percent of drug users, but they represent 32 percent of those arrested for drug offenses, 44 percent of drug convictions, and 45 percent of drug offenders in State prison. One in 15 African-American males over 18 is behind bars as opposed to 1 out of 36 for Latinos and one out of 106 for White males. In addition, since 2000, on average, 682,000 inmates have been released from prison annually. This number does not include those who come home from city and county jails. If current trends continue, the chilling extrapolation is that 1 in 3 Black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime. These men are disproportionately removed from lower income, segregated, and disinvested communities, where they will eventually return–too often without the skills they need to become successful husbands, fathers, neighbors, and wage earners.
(29) Programs that increase employment opportunity and reduce barriers by increasing employment opportunity and reducing recidivism will benefit children and families.
(30) Transitional jobs programs have shown promise in reducing unemployment among chronically unemployed or underemployed population groups, including formerly incarcerated individuals, the homeless, and young African-American men.