fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

Talk with Tom Caplan, expert on child support pass-through laws

In Oct. 2007, the Institute for Research on Poverty released a pivotal study on a hot topic for welfare recipients. Many state laws allow the state to collect $50 a month from welfare recipients who also receive child support.

Today, I spoke with Tom Caplan, associate director of the institute the study and implications it has on the correlation between child support and welfare benefits.

Click below to listen to the chat http://hilaryp.podbean.com/medias/play/aHR0cDovL21lZGlhMS5wb2RiZWFuLmNvbS9wb2RjYXN0LWJsb2ctYXVkaW8tdmlkZW8tbWVkaWEtZmlsZXMvYmxvZ3MvMjc0OTEvdXBsb2Fkcy9XaXNjV2VsZmFyZUludGVydmlldzEubXAz/WiscWelfareInterview1.mp3>Listen%20to%20this%20episode</a></font>

Can’t hear the audio? Read on for a full copy of the transcript.

Hilary: How important is the topic of welfare is to your research institute?

Tom: The institute was founded 40 years ago during the war on poverty, in the 1960s.

Hilary: This study specifically dealt with the difference between disregard and pass-through?

Tom: Before the big national welfare reform of 1996, the U.S. government had one policy for how states should treat child support. Any private child support that exceeded $50 just reimbursed the state and federal government. So after 1996, the policy changed and states weren’t required anymore to disregard the first $50 of child support. Most states chose not to, so that every dollar of child support that came in, none of it went to the children.

Hilary: Do you think the general public understands the importance of having pass-through?

Tom: No, I don’t think so at all. On the one hand, look, we’re giving these people public benefits, and that’s meeting their basic needs. Any money that comes in from public child support, that ought to reimbursement the public. On the other hand, if someone said that ‘gee, we’re not providing that much with public welfare benefits so that if a family is able to receive private child support, it ought to be on top of those basic welfare benefits. I think people would believe that too.

Hilary: The study found that pass-through has had a negative effect on the non-custodial parent being responsible and continuing to upkeep their payments. Do you feel like that’s accurate?

Tom: The study was setup by states where some people in are randomly assigned to get pass-through, and some parents were assigned not to get pass-through. If we could look at  state policies where it was all done one-way and it wasn’t an experiment, we’d have a more accurate account.

Hilary: But what if people don’t see a benefit in having $50 more dollars going to a family?

Tom: It’s surprising that absent parents know that the money is going to the family, and their willingness does not always happen.  I think the supposition, that pass-through does not does not increase the willingness of a non-custodial parent to pay, the likely reason for that is that in most states it’s pretty hard to get away with not paying.

Hilary: With all of those variables taken into account, we’re still seeing more single moms now more than ever. DO you think we’ll see more push for pass-through?

Tom: Well, I do. The federal government just passed legislation that allows states to do pass-throughs. I don’t know if we’ll ever see a majority of states do this.

Hilary: Where could someone who wants more information about pass-through go onine?

Tom: It’s: www.irp.wisc.edu/publications

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Kid Concerns, Legislation, Listening, Money Matters, Pass-Through, Related Reports, Research | , , , | 1 Comment