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Twelve Reasons for Collaboration Between Departments of Correction and Child Support Enforcement Agencies

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 65 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2003 Pages: 87-90,104
Esther Griswold; Jessica Pearson
Date Published
June 2003
5 pages
This article discusses the reasons why child support and corrections agencies should collaborate on the child support status of incarcerated and paroled parents.
There is a largely unknown intersection between incarcerated parents and child support enforcement (CSE) programs. Some States are addressing the problems that arise from having parents in prison that do not meet their child support responsibilities. There are a number of reasons why Department of Corrections (DOC) and CSE agencies should collaborate. The majority of inmates in State and Federal facilities are parents. Many of these inmates have formal child support obligations. Child support obligations do not stop when a parent becomes incarcerated. Most incarcerated noncustodial parents (NCPs) cannot pay their monthly support orders. Many NCPs in prison with monthly support obligations also owe significant child support arrearages. State CSE agencies vary in how they treat incarcerated parents with child support involvement. Some States will modify an order if the incarcerated NCP requests it. Paroled and released offenders face substantial child support obligations and stiff enforcement actions that may affect successful re-entry. Some CSE agencies are working with pre-release programs. A few States are forgiving or waiving a portion of arrears owed to the State if the NCP remains employed and makes regular support payments. Many parolees in re-entry programs do a good job of working and paying child support. State prisons and DOC facilities can strengthen their reintegration programs by incorporating information on child support. DOC and child support officials are beginning to see the value of identifying parents with child support responsibilities while they are in prison so that parents avoid the accumulation of excessive arrears and also include child support in their post-release plans. A CSE agency should partner with the DOC to create a viable reintegration program that benefits both offenders and the larger community. 10 endnotes