Crisis In The Family Courts

Cut TANF Title IV-D programs which represent $4Billion of waste

Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on September 28, 2011

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WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT

This letter is to request that you take action to cut spending on pork barrel spending on certain TANF Title IV-D programs which represent $4 billion untraceable dollars that no one keeps track of. These funds meant for needy children were diverted and wasted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to non needs based programs available to all fathers engaged in the family court litigation industry—no matter how wealthy they are. These parents now ask Congress to take a stand to hold ACF’s defective leadership and the programs destroying families accountable by demanding the following budget cuts:

1. TANF Contingency Fund authorized under 403(b) Social Security Act for payment to States and other non-federal entities under Titles I, IV-D, X, XI, and XIV “to remain available until expended.” (p. 474)

2. ID Code 75-1552-0-1-609, lines 0005 and 0009 [$990 million] (p. 473)

3. ID Code 75-1501-0-1-609 lines 0002, 0003 [Access and Visitation] [$1.7 billion] (p. 474)

4. Discretionary “Child Support Incentives” to States [$305 million] (p. 475)

5. ID Code 75–1512–0–1–506 “Healthy Families” [$1.7 billion] (p.476)

6. ID Code 75–1512–0–1–506 “Abstinence Education” [$1.7 billion] (p. 477)

7. Line 0129 “Faith Based Initiatives” [$1 million] (p.479)

Struggling parents want things like jobs, housing, education, childcare, and access to medical care to help them weather the current economic crisis. Instead, these hard working families are forced to invest $4 Billion in irresponsible, extortion based, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) programs that promote widespread Medicaid and child support fraud, protracted high conflict litigation, and bogus therapy programs.

Child support agencies deliberately withhold and mismanage billions of paid collected support, which starves children onto TANF and causes parents to be falsely prosecuted for nonpayment.

Good parents are being exploited, bankrupted, and emotionally destroyed while their kids are needlessly placed on the welfare, Medicaid, and foster care system rolls. Billions of dollars of child support remains unaccounted for nationwide.

These frivolous programs spend without restraint and direct money to places HHS cannot identify (as noted by the OIG and GOA reports on the second page.) There is no oversight. DHHS’s position is that once the money goes to the states, they are not responsible for oversight. Fraud is rampant, yet the OIG does nothing to enforce the laws to protect families.

90% of the parents paying child support are fathers. Using child support enforcement programs as a vehicle, these extortion based programs force fathers to elect between criminal penalties and inciting “high conflict” family court litigation to create a “need” for their own publicly funded services. These irresponsible programs cash in on the “incentives” by placing children in unstable homes, and then starve the entire family onto some sort of public assistance. We can identify no legitimate purpose for these programs and request that Congress take the following actions:

(1) Revoke or reduce funding to Administration for Children and Families (ACF) child support incentives, Access and Visitation (AV) programs, and gender based funding to child support agencies.

(2) End collateral child support/custody funding mandates.

(3) Overhaul Office on Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) on the federal level to remove staff with conflicts of interest and bias.

(4) Audit OCSE to find out where our tax dollars are actually going, and then implement rigorous transparency, oversight, and accountability measures on programs.

The [unlawful] programs are supposed to be ADMINISTRATIVE, but they used quasi judicial power to create, amend, and enforce court orders without judicial authorization. The agency does not provide due process, nor do they have to show you their files. Judges have to look the other way because if they object, they will lose their HHS funding, and at the same time the judge has to accept responsibility for the agency’s badly managed and even crooked interference when litigants are hurt.

On the author’s family court case, the bills were inflated and no one would let me have receipts for services, without telling me or the judge, support orders were modified, documents falsified, and support enforcement would not let me see their files. Like hundreds of families I am aware of, this money was used to force my family into needless litigation which cost me tens of thousands of dollars.

In 2011, we ask why the Obama Administration inexcusably ignored the pleas of desperate hard working parents and doubled the budget for these pork barrel projects, starving them out of their home. It’s time to get serious about deficit reduction, and require the president to exercise fiscal restraint on programs which would target and extort families under the most trying circumstances.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION: WHERE DOES CHILD SUPPORT GO?

Recovery Act: Thousands of Recovery Act Contract and Grant Recipients Owe Hundreds of Millions in Federal Taxes
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-686T

This Government Accountability Office report recently came out which shows that these HHS grant recipients owe us struggling tax paying families hundreds of BILLIONS in taxes.

OIG STATE AUDIT REPORTS ON UNDISBURSIBLE ARREARS
The more federal dollars were receive the less States collected in support. States refuse to distribute child support to "families first," and are instead keeping the money for themselves-without accounting for it.

These reports can be found here:
http://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/oas/acf.asp

The Office of the Inspector General found HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars in undisbursed child support which was never accounted for when it audited the child support services programs from only a hand full of counties in approximately 30 states. There are only incentives to COLLECT support and put families on TANF, and NONE to actually disburse it to the children it is intended to benefit. When undistributed arrears were discovered, the OIG ordered the States to give 66% to the federal OCSE office, and allowed the State to keep the remaining 34% for themselves. And so the states deliberately don’t tell parents they collected the money, then create "set up to fail" disbursement methods to retain the funds for the general fund:

• send checks to the wrong address,
• illegal liens on accounts
• create massive arrears, give dad the tax benefit, then garnish the tax benefit,
• put child support it in trust accounts during litigation-that lasts more than 3 years,
• retroactively abate arrears, then keep it for themselves without telling either parent.

When the OIG identified the embezzled funds, they did not help them find the children it was intended to benefit, the OIG instructed States to properly report…So the feds could have their 66%. This policy entirely lacks accountability or consequences for this fraud. Subsequent reports demonstrated that the problem has continued to worsen, and there are [still] no protocols and procedures in place to define, identify, and track these monies.

Healthy Marriage And Responsible Fatherhood Initiative: Further Progress Is Needed in Developing a Risk-Based Monitoring Approach to Help HHS Improve Program Oversight:
www.gao.gov/new.items/d081002.pdf

$500 Million Unconditionally Given To Activists: Operating under a deadline that allowed HHS 7 months to award grants, HHS shortened its existing process to award Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants to public and private organizations. During this process, HHS did not fully examine grantees’ programs as described in their applications, including the activities they planned to offer, and this created challenges and setbacks for grantees later as they implemented their programs. –P. 2

•Failure to Implement Uniform Standards, Policies, and Procedures: HHS uses methods that include site visits and progress reports to monitor grantees, but it lacks mechanisms to identify and target grantees that are not in compliance with grant requirements or are not meeting performance goals, and it also lacks clear and consistent guidance for performing site monitoring visits. –P.2

Embezzlement and Fraud Was Likely Vastly Under Estimated: Moreover, we did not survey organizations that received money from grant recipients to provide direct services, subawardees. Since making the initial awards, 4 organizations have relinquished their grants, 1 organization had its grant terminated, and 1 new grant was awarded. There are 6 organizations currently pending non-continuation of award funds.

GAO REPORT: Child Support Enforcement: Better Data and More Information on Undistributed Collections Are Needed
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-377

Medicare and Medicaid Fraud, Waste, and Abuse: Effective Implementation of Recent Laws and Agency Actions Could Help Reduce Improper Payments
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-409T

Child Support Enforcement: Departures from Long-term Trends in Sources of Collections and Caseloads Reflect Recent Economic Conditions
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-196
In fiscal year 2009, the child support enforcement (CSE) program collected about $26 billion in child support payments from noncustodial parents on behalf of more than 17 million children. The CSE program is run by states and overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). States receive federal performance incentive payments and a federal match on both state CSE funds…The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) eliminated this incentive match beginning in 2008, but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 temporarily reinstated it for 2 years….

In fiscal year 2009, the CSE program experienced several departures from past trends. For one, child support collections failed to increase nationwide for the first time in the history of the program in fiscal year 2009… Also in fiscal year 2009, the number of CSE cases currently receiving public assistance increased …Preliminary HHS data show that total CSE expenditures grew by 2.6 percent in fiscal year 2008 as many states increased their own funding to maintain CSE operations when the federal incentive match was eliminated…In contrast to fiscal year 2008, a different picture emerged in fiscal year 2009, when the incentive match was temporarily restored but total CSE expenditures fell slightly by 1.8 percent, which HHS officials told GAO was due to state budget constraints. Most states nationwide have not implemented "family first" policy options…because giving more child support collections to families means states retain less as reimbursement for public assistance costs.

Administrative Expenditures and Federal Matching Rates of Selected Support Programs
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-839R

Sincerely,

Change.org Petitioner

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