April 2019

The Payback Problem: How Taking Parents' Child Support Payments to Pay Back the Cost of Public Assistance Harms California Low-Income Children & Families

Overview

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. 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 report was a collaborative effort with organizations such as the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and Western Center on Law & Poverty to raise awareness of the unfair system that deprives poor children of critical resources, particularly children of color, and lift up recommendations for reform.