Child Support matters to one-in-four Maryland children

August is Child Support Awareness Month

 BALTIMORE (July 25, 2011) – For several years now August has been designated as National Child Support Awareness Month.  Across the country, both state and federal governments are raising awareness of the importance of child support.

According to recent census data, one-in-four children are being raised in single parent homes.  Many of these children grow up without ever knowing the financial and emotional support of their absent parent.  As a result, children living in single parent families have more than twice the poverty rate of all Maryland children.

“There is nothing more important than protecting Maryland’s children,” said Department of Human Resources Secretary Theodore Dallas.  “Child support plays a vital part in ensuring the well being of Maryland’s children and the stability of many single parent households.  Parents who pay child support are investing in their children’s future.”

The Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) manages over 250,000 active child support cases and distributed over $511 million in financial support last year.  To ensure robust collections, DHR uses tools like cross-referencing data with other agencies, denying the issuance of passports, and intercepting lottery winnings and income tax returns when child support debt exists.  In addition, DHR has increased collaboration with the business community, the judiciary, and other local and state government offices in an effort to collect monies owed to children.

To ensure emotional support, the department administers several father-focused programs that assist non-custodial fathers in removing barriers to employment, acquire skills to enhance their family relationships and reconnect with their children.  Over 2,625 noncustodial parents participated in training and employment services last year.  These programs are also open to custodial parents.

The department is the state’s social service provider.  DHR collaborates with 24 local jurisdictions to: provide foster care, adoption, and protective services to children; collect and distribute child support payments; provide protective services, case- management, supportive housing, in-home aide services, and respite care to vulnerable adults; and provide temporary cash, food stamps, and medical assistance to families.  It also funds programs for homeless persons, refugees, and migrant workers.  Last year, DHR served over one million people in need.  In terms of its annual budget, DHR is Maryland’s fifth largest state agency.         

Filed in: Child Support, DHS News

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