Child Support

Need To Improve Efforts To Identify Fathers and Obtain Support Orders Gao ID: HRD-87-37 April 30, 1987

GAO reviewed the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Child Support Enforcement Program to determine: (1) whether states' efforts to determine paternity and obtain support orders for children who receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) are adequate; (2) whether the data compiled are sufficient for program oversight; and (3) the potential impact of recent legislative amendments to the program.

GAO found that 42 percent of the children receiving AFDC who needed paternity determinations did not receive them because: (1) AFDC agencies did not refer all cases to child support agencies; or (2) child support agencies did not open cases, closed them prematurely, or did not work on open cases for 6 months. GAO also found that: (1) state case-tracking and monitoring systems and closure criteria were ineffective; (2) local agencies concentrated on cases offering the highest collections; (3) there are no federal standards to assess agencies' effectiveness in determining paternity and obtaining support orders; and (4) the HHS Inspector General (IG) has not reviewed the program's management. In addition, GAO found that: (1) 49 states felt that the 1984 Child Support Enforcement Amendments would help in collecting and enforcing support payments; (2) 20 felt they would help in determining paternity; and (3) 29 felt they would help in obtaining support orders.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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