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     Section 228 of Title 18, United States Code, makes it illegal for an individual to willfully fail to pay child support in certain circumstances. Yet there are multiple cases of men and women who intentionally decide not to pay their court ordered child support and neglect their parental responsibilities.

     As a single mother who has a court order for child support, I find it disheartening that this law is not properly enforced. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than a quarter of Americas children now live with one parent. Nearly 6 of 10 children living with only their mother were near or below the poverty line, that is 69% of the children in America. Receiving help is also a much more tedious process when you live in one state and the non-custodial parent lives in another. Section 228 of Title 18 needs some serious revisions and it needs to happen now.

     There should be better state to state communication. Throwing the non-custodial parent in jail for back support DOES NOT WORK.  Once the non-custodial parent is incarcerated they receive three meals a day and a place to sleep all on the tax payer’s dime. This contradicts the fact that some single parent households cannot afford to give their child/children a decent meal or a safe place to sleep.

      Children who have only the financial support of one parent are not being given a chance to live the best life possible, because single parents can't afford most things needed. “Child support payments represent 45% of the single mother’s income. Dead beats are the reason 41% of households headed by single mothers are below the poverty level, twice that for single father households”- Joan Entmacher (former vice president of family & economic security of the national women’s law center).  The 1996 welfare reform law gave a concise mandate; if you create a child, you must support that child. Children have a better chance at succeeding when they have access to more resources. “Research has shown that a dollar of child support income has a greater effect on how well a child does in school than does other sources of family income”- Knox, V. (1996). The Effects of Child Support Payments on Developmental Outcomes for Elementary School-age Children. Journal of Human Resources, 31(4), 816-840. That only comes when either both parents help support the child or the custodial parent receives enough financial assistance.

     As a mother to a 7-year-old, I am responsible for providing safe housing, food, clothing, medical and other miscellaneous necessities, while also being responsible to take care of my individual financial needs. Not only do I maintain a full-time work schedule, but I am also a full-time mother, father figure, chief, chauffeur, doctor, cheerleader, teacher and nurturer for my child. We are making our children raise themselves or having strangers raise them if we are lucky enough to afford a sitter. Due to the custodial parent having to work over 80 hours just to barely make it another month. Which in turn adds more stress to the parent further making it harder to be fully available to the child.

      If the non-custodial parent isn’t paying his/her court ordered support the custodial parent should be able to receive government assistance even if the parent has employment. The U.S. Federal Government initiated the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to provide affordable and nutritionally adequate diet to the low-income families; protecting them from hardships and hunger. Yet there are millions of single parent households who don’t qualify for snap because their income is consider too high for the program.  For a single mother of 2 children you cannot make over $20,420 if you want to qualify for assistance; that is $425 a week and $1,701 a month. The mother’s monthly income of $1,701 is just child care so that leaves no money for food or shelter. These eligibility requirements are unrealistic to say the least, no one can live off $425 a week, $1,701 a month, $20,420 a year when you have children. Single parents should not be penalized for having a job making them ineligible for SNAP/TANF.

     Children are supposed to be able to count on their parents for the financial, medical and emotional support they need to be healthy and successful even when they live in different households. As of 2017 there are 14,206,496 child support cases open, with 15,147,168 children attached to those cases. 12,384,637 child support orders have been established from the 14,206,496 open cases. Even with back pay of $7,693,333,984 being paid to children with child support orders there was still $117,356,312,693 of back pay due at the end of 2017. Money that could have helped the custodial parent properly provide for the child/children and reduce financial stress.