Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Child Support Enforcement
Handbook on Child Support Enforcement
The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Program is a Federal/state/local partnership to collect child support: We want to send the strongest possible message that parents cannot walk away from their children. Our goals are to ensure that children have the financial support of both their parents, to foster responsible behavior towards children, to emphasize that children need to have both parents involved in their lives, and to reduce welfare costs.
The Federal CSE Program was established in 1975 as Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. It functions in all states and territories, through the state/county Social Services Department, Attorney General’s Office, or Department of Revenue. Most states work with prosecuting attorneys, other law enforcement agencies, and officials of family or domestic relations courts to carry out the program at the local level. Native American Tribes, too, can operate child support programs in the context of their cultures and traditions with Federal funding.
State Child Support Programs locate noncustodial parents, establish paternity, establish and enforce support orders, modify orders when appropriate, and collect and distribute child support payments. While programs vary from state to state, their services are available to all parents who need them.
The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It helps states develop, manage, and operate their programs effectively and according to Federal law. OCSE pays the major share of state program operating costs, provides location services, policy guidance and technical help to enforcement agencies, conducts audits and educational programs, supports research, and shares ideas for program improvement.
We believe that child support enforcement provides hope as well as support to America’s children. We dedicate this Handbook to the millions of parents who put their children first by responsibly providing for their emotional and financial support.