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New law could force child support collection for needy parents

Many Illinois parents are all-too-familiar with how difficult it is to make ends meet. Those challenges can become even more pronounced in cases where only one parent remains within the home. If the noncustodial parent fails to meet his or her child support obligations, no amount of budget stretching can make ends meet each and every month. In such cases, turning to the government for short-term financial assistance is sometimes the only available option.

Recently proposed legislation, however, would place an additional burden in the path of parents seeking food stamp assistance. The change would require participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to take steps to collect unpaid child support prior to receiving SNAP benefits. Many who oppose this change point out that enforcing such a rule could cost states billions of dollars.

Noncustodial parents who are behind on their child support obligations should be responsible for providing support to their children. However, forcing custodial parents to jump through hoops connected to child support enforcement only slows their path to a more financially stable outcome. This requirement also ignores the fact that most custodial parents are aware of whether the other parent is able or willing to pay child support.

Pursuing child support enforcement is most effective when the targeted parent has the means to make good on his or her obligations. Otherwise, a great deal of time, expense, and effort is spent trying to collect unpaid child support with a very low likelihood of success. For those in Illinois parents who rely on SNAP services to feed their families, an additional burden is far from welcome.

Source: governing.com, "Why Forcing Food Stamp Participants to Receive Child-Support Services Is a Bad Idea", Vicki Turetsky, May 16, 2018

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