The state of Washington will no longer attempt to collect child support payments from parents whose children have been placed in out-of-home care. The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families ended this practice as of September 1, 2022.
A recent study found that referring parents to child support collection lengthened the time children spent in out-of-home care. For every $100 collected, there was a 6.6-month delay in reunification, according to the study. Generally, the purpose of foster care is to reunite parents with their children once it is safe to do so. Long stays in foster care can be associated with negative outcomes for children.
Previously, parents were referred to child support collection to partly “reimburse” the state (most states across the country have or had similar practices) for the costs of caring for their child(ren) in out-of-home care. Yet the system designed to collect these payments actually collected far less that the costs of administering it. According to DCYF, for each dollar spent on collecting money from parents, only 39 cents was collected.
“We know that most parents are already facing financial hardships when they come into contact with the child welfare system,” said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter in a statement. “This old and misguided policy only deepened that hardship and made it harder for parents to get their kids home.”
For more information, please visit DCYF’s website here.