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The Child Support Enforcement Program: A Fact Sheet

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Publication Date: February 1998

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: 94-319

Topic: Social conditions (Public welfare and social services)


The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, Part D of Title IV of the Social Security Act, was enacted in January 1975 (P.L. 93-647). Its main goals are to reduce spending for actual and potential recipients of public welfare by obtaining support from noncustodial parents on an ongoing basis; and to establish paternity for children born outside of marriage so that child support can be obtained. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands operate CSE programs and are entitled to federal matching funds. To qualify for federal matching funds, each state’s CSE plan must be approved by the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services. The CSE program provides six major services on behalf of children: parent location, paternity establishment, establishment of child (and spousal) support orders, review and modification of support orders, collection of support payments, and distribution of support payments. Collection methods include: wage withholding, intercept of federal and state income tax refunds, intercept of unemployment compensation, liens against property, and providing child support debt information to credit bureaus. Since 1984, CSE agencies have been required to petition for medical support as part of most child support orders.