MDHHS acting to increase support for estimated 2,700 families; Families that receive child support and cash assistance soon to get up to $200 a month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 20, 2019                                                

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112                                               

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan residents who receive child support in addition to cash assistance through the Family Independence Program (FIP) will soon see more money they can use to buy food, clothing and other items for their children under a change in Michigan’s fiscal year 2020 budget.

The budget signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer includes $946,000 to support child support pass-through payments of up to $200 a month for qualifying households that receive assistance through FIP. This relatively modest investment will have a substantial return for Michigan, with an estimated 2,700 families receiving an additional $2.5 million in child support.

Currently, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) keeps child support payments that would be paid to parents who receive FIP. This collected money is paid to the federal and state government to offset FIP expenses. However, federal law permits states to “pass through” up to $200 a month of child support to families with two or more children and up to $100 to families with one child.

“Providing greater opportunities for families to succeed is one of MDHHS’s top priorities,” said Erin Frisch, MDHHS chief deputy director for opportunity. “This change accomplishes that and is a win for families that receive child support and their communities. In addition to helping families, providing this additional financial support stimulates the economies of communities where parents live, as they will soon have more to spend on groceries, clothes, and other essentials of living.”

Sending child support to the families rather than keeping it increases participation and cooperation with Michigan’s Child Support program because the paying parents know that a portion of what they pay will go to the family, versus going to the government. The parent or guardian who receives the child support is also more likely to help the program establish and enforce child support orders.

Before 2012, Michigan provided a pass-through payment of $50 to parents receiving FIP. This was eliminated due to budget constraints.

“Michigan should be commended for helping more families get the support they need and deserve for their children,” said Vicki Turetsky, head of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2009 to 2017 and now a consultant. “In states across the country, we have seen that when these dollars are made available to families, the families have more income and noncustodial parents pay more child support and agree more readily to establish paternity and support orders. Child protection complaints even go down. The child support paid by parents matters to their children. Research finds over and over again that children who receive child support do better in school, for example.”

Families receiving FIP will receive the pass-through only if the parent who owes child support pays it. Additionally, if the paying parent pays less than $100, the family will only receive the amount he or she pays.

Pass-through child support payments will begin in January. Letters will be mailed to all affected FIP recipients notifying them of the change.

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