What We Do
In California, children and families on public assistance do not receive the full child support payment that they are due. This is due to an archaic, racist rule that requires single parents receiving benefits to sign over their rights to their child support payments to the government. Children and their families only receive $50 of any child support payment. The rest is intercepted by our state and county governments.
In a state with the highest child poverty rates, this system takes valuable resources away from children living in poverty and disproportionately harms children of color. Children are further impacted by harmful collections policies. When a parent cannot afford to make their payment, due to situations outside of their control such as changes in job status or work hours, their driver’s license can be suspended, their bank account is levied, and they are charged ten percent interest- a rate among the highest in the country.
We’ve heard from countless families that this system creates conflict between parents, because the custodial parent often doesn’t see how much the other parent is actually paying. It drives parents to work in underground economies, so they can send the money they earn to their family instead of the government. And it sets families up to fail. This is an economic and racial justice issue as the system functions as a revenue-generating agency for California’s safety net programs, and fails children of color and low-income children. It’s time for our state to put children and families first.
Since 2018, the Truth and Justice in Child Support Coalition has collected and analyzed government data, interviewed parents and children across the state impacted by these harmful policies, and met with policymakers and agency providers in order to shed light on an unjust system that strips resources disproportionately from children of color and the families and communities in which they live. We are calling for immediate reforms to California child support laws and practices to alleviate the inequitable burden placed on low-income families and families of color.
Who We Are
Steering Committee Members:
- The broader coalition is composed of direct service, advocacy and legal organizations that are located across California and focused on racial and economic justice and the well-being of children and families. Our advocacy is informed by the lived experience of people impacted by the child support system and our collective expertise in poverty, human and civil rights, workforce, housing, criminal justice and reentry, among other intersectional issue areas.