The Payback Problem: Why Child Support in California Goes to the Government Instead

In California last year, the state intercepted over $300 million in child support payments that should have gone to low-income children and their families. This was not an anomaly. Every year, hundreds of thousands of poor children across the state receive just a fraction of the child support payments made by their parents. That’s because, despite having the fifth largest economy in the world, California takes all but the first $50 of every child support payment made to children who receive public benefits and uses it to reimburse the government for the cost of providing those benefits. This unfair policy deprives poor children of critical resources, particularly children of color, and creates barriers to employment as well as ballooning debt for low-income parents.

A coalition of organizations, however, is working to advance reform. Advocates, local government officials, and the philanthropic community have partnered to raise awareness of California’s flawed child support system, and state legislators, supported by the advocacy of impacted individuals, are advancing bills this legislative session that would ensure children receive 100% of their child support (SB 337), eliminate the 10% interest rate on outstanding child support debt owed to the government (AB 1092), and extend an existing law that automatically suspends child support orders for certain incarcerated parents (AB 1091).

Join us to learn more about California’s child support system, how it impacts low-income families of color, and how you can help advance reform.

Featured Speakers:

  • Anne Stuhldreher, Director, The San Francisco Financial Justice Project
  • Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Vice President of Programs and Strategy, Insight Center for Community Economic Development Ronnell Hampton, Founder, Growing Greatness
  • Christa Brown, Manager, The San Francisco Financial Justice Project
  • Lewis Brown, Jr., Senior Associate, PolicyLink