Why Does Pennsylvania Lead The Nation In Child Support Collection?

Every state and just about every county has a child support collection office responsible for enforcing Court ordered child support. Receiving child support is critical for parents with custody of children. Child support income can prevent parents from being on public assistance and it can also result in reimbursing public assistance costs.

States/counties looking to increase the amount of child support they collect should learn more about how Pennsylvania operates their child support collection office.

Federal guildelines require that states obtain at least 80 percent of child support owed by non-custodial parents. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation currently meeting or exceeding all federal guidelines.

As reported in a Governing article, Pennsylvania studied their child support cases looking for variables to determine how likely a non-custodial parent is to pay “and what things can we do to help them overcome various barriers to making reliable, consistent payments?”

Utilizing various types of data (age, employment status and history, residential stability and number of child support cases) Pennsylvania developed a payment calculator that arrives at a score that predicts how likely a person is to satisfy their child support obligations.

The private sector does similar data analysis to calculate things like credit scores and insurance rates. Dan Richard the Director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Child Support stated in the Governing article:

“Once the basic information about a case is put on the computer, you can press a button and it will automatically calculate a score that projects the likelihood of payment,” “From a policy point of view, and a programmatic point of view, it was a major initiative. But from a technological point of view, it was not a major leap, and it was implemented at a modest cost.”

The data and the determined score allow the child support office to focus their resources where they are needed most as far as collection efforts and in linking individuals to job placement resources.

Does providing a “score” to an individual’s future behavior trouble you or does it make sense for a government agency to utilize a “scoring” system to target resources?


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