|Enact child support enforcement policies that encourage parents released from prisons and jails to maintain legitimate employment that will help them provide long-term support to their children.|
|Use child support enforcement mechanisms short of incarceration, where appropriate, that hold the noncustodial parent accountable but do not limit his or her ability to make future child support payments.|
As stated earlier, employment prospects for people released from prisons and jails are typically dim. Noncustodial parents released from prison and jail owing child support are also subject to paycheck garnishment, which sometimes discourages them from pursuing legitimate employment.1 A criminal record and history of incarceration are not justifications for staying unemployed or engaging in illegal behavior; ensuring long-term support for children requires that parents find and maintain legitimate employment.
To support the ability of noncustodial parents to find and sustain employment upon release from prisons and jails, child support enforcement officers should help connect parents re-entering the community with One-Stop employment centers, transitional employment, and other work programs.2 When needed, officers should also grant parents a 60-day post-release grace period to find employment before resuming child support payments. To encourage regular payments, officers should prioritize the collection of current payments over that of past arrears.
Child Support Statute, Oregon
Oregon's child support statute (Ore. Rev. Stat. 416.425(9)) returns child support payment amounts to pre-incarceration levels 60 days after a noncustodial parent is released from prison, providing time for parents who have been released from prisons and jails to find employment.3
Child support enforcement officers should use driver’s license revocation as a measure of last resort, and include flexible provisions for traveling to and from work when revoking licenses. In addition, child support enforcement officials should prioritize payments that directly benefit the child over repayment of costs to the state for providing financial assistance (TANF) to the child’s family.4
Report on Working with Parents Who Are Incarcerated, Office of Child Support Enforcement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) released a report describing a number of local and state initiatives to help parents who are incarcerated meet their child support obligations. The report, “Working with Incarcerated and Released Parents: Lessons from OCSE Grants and State Programs,” can be retrieved at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pubs/2006/guides/working_with_incarcerated_resource_guide.pdf.
1 Holzer, Offner, and Sorensen, Declining Employment.
2 The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 required jurisdictions to create One-Stops, which are comprehensive career centers for people seeking training, education, and employment services. For more information about WIA, or One-Stops, see www.doleta.gov. For more information about workforce development, employment, and reentry, see the Employment and Education section of the Reentry Policy Council Web site at www.reentrypolicy.org.
3 Ore. Rev. Stat. 416.425(9) retrieved at www.leg.state.or.us/99reg/measures/hb2200.dir/hb2231.en.html, December 1, 2006.
4 For a state-by-state list of license restrictions practices for child support enforcement, see the Web site of the National Conference of State Legislatures at www.ncsl.org/programs/cyf/licensechart.htm.