At first glance, Senator Romney’s plan may trigger support if one only focuses on dollar amounts. But what has to be discussed is his desire to eliminate Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) which was previously called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Note the crucial word “families” in each version. Romney’s plan would also eliminate a number of income tax credits in order to make the plan deficit neutral.
TANF is a block grant program established by Title IV of the Social Security Act and managed by states. Title IV-A is the block grant program. Title IV-B is Child and Family Services. Title IV-C has been repealed. Title IV-D is the crucial section that provides child support enforcement and establishment of paternity. When I managed the small child support division in Whitley County, AFDC (as it was known then) was a much-needed program. Its purpose was to assist families where a non-custodial parent had abandoned the family and wasn’t paying child support.
The program worked in tandem with the above mentioned Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, which mandates all states provide child support enforcement services through a prosecutor’s office or a suitable alternative entity. A custodial parent can apply for TANF, and, if approved for funds, is expected to cooperate by providing information as to the whereabouts (if known) of the missing parent. Jurisdiction is obtained over the absent parent through an existing divorce or paternity proceeding. The parent is brought into court so the court can enforce the child support order set out in the divorce or paternity proceedings.
Regardless of the name (AFDC or TANF), the funds were and are in lieu of the non-custodial parent’s obligation. The state enforces the child support order and is allowed to recover funds to replace those used to support the family during lack of child support payment by the non-custodial parent.Romney’s plan would eliminate this block grant program; however, the Title IV-D program should still be available to enforce child support and establish paternity with only Part A repealed.
The plan is not to stimulate anything; it is a structural change that would be ongoing. As a structural change, this should not be included in any stimulus package. It must be fully debated outside the parameters of Covid -19 and the pandemic.