Medford and Somerville State Representative Christine P. Barber testified before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities this week to testify in support of legislation she filed to ensure child support paid to families receiving Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) goes directly to benefit the child, rather than the state.
Since its creation in 1975, the public child support program has required that applicants for cash assistance assign their child support rights to the state and federal government. This continues after a family leaves public assistance, in which case child support assessed through tax refunds continues to go to the state and federal government rather than to the family, until it’s paid in full.
Rep. Barber’s H.1952, An act to bring child support home, instructs the Commonwealth to ‘pass through’ child support payments to families receiving TAFDC grants and those who formerly received assistance, allowing families to collect $50-$150 more in assistance per month. Enabling this pass through, which has been an option for states since the implementation of the Deficit Reduction Act in 2008, also means the federal government waives its share of child support collection, and is a cost effective way to increase income for poor families in Massachusetts.
“This increase may not seem significant to many,” Rep. Barber commented in her testimony. “But $50 to $150 more per month for a struggling family can make a huge difference, and can often be just enough to make ends meet. This bill will not only help lift families out of poverty, but it also will improve the connection between non-custodial parents and their children as they provide direct financial support.”
“It makes no sense to send child support paid by low-income dads to the federal treasury instead of paying it to their kids,” said Deborah Harris of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “The bill would bring child support home to children.”
Ruthie Liberman, Vice President of Public Policy at EMPath, an anti-poverty agency formerly known as Crittenton Women’s Union, said, “The single parents that come to EMPath to create a path out of poverty are working hard to take care of their children, advance their careers and complete their higher education. An extra $50 to $150 of support in the form of child support each month may mean they can stop having to make the choice of buying enough food or having diapers for their children.”
H.1952 will now be considered by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, which must report out the legislation by February 1, 2017 for it to continue to move forward in the 190th legislation session.