Relief from Government-Owed Child Support Debt and Its Effects on Parents and Children

Evaluation of the San Francisco Child Support Debt Relief Pilot

Most of the money many low-income Californians pay for child support does not reach their children; instead, it reimburses the government for public assistance their children have received. In California, 40% of child support payments are for debt owed to the government. In this pilot program, philanthropic partners paid down the portion of pilot participants’ public assistance debt. Tipping Point partnered with the Urban Institute to evaluate the debt relief’s effects on the parents’ compliance with current child support orders, employment, financial stability, relationships with their children, and other aspects of well-being.

Relieving child support debt resulted in putting most fathers on a more constructive, productive path toward improved financial stability and well-being that allowed them to better support their children both financially and emotionally.

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