Opinion

Albritton: Colorado leading the way in providing for needy children, families

Author: Phyllis Albritton - May 23, 2017 - Updated: May 19, 2017

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Phyllis Albritton
Phyllis Albritton

Colorado is leading the nation with a new policy that supports and strengthens the safety net for children.

In April, Colorado became the only state in the nation to allow Colorado Works (Colorado’s version of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF) recipients to receive full child support payments with no impact on their cash benefits. From April 1 through May 15, $542,238.70 in child support was distributed to 3,007 families. In most other states, collected child support is used to run the child support program.

There are important reasons for wanting child support to go directly to children.

According to the Colorado Children’s Campaign, more than any other single factor, a family’s economic security tips the scale of child well-being dramatically in a child’s favor. In 2014, approximately 190,000, or 15 percent, of Colorado’s more than 1.26 million children lived below the poverty level. Steady child support is an important contributor to economic self-sufficiency.

But there’s more:

• Stronger bonds between parents and children support greater future success for the children.

Research indicates that parents who pay child support are more likely to visit their children and influence how they are raised. Second, more parents are likely to pay child support on time because they see that the money goes directly toward their child’s needs.

• Financial support helps the family get back on their feet sooner.

Consistent child support helps the parent with whom the child lives become more economically secure. Self-sufficiency is the ultimate goal of Colorado Works. Stable, secure income supports that goal.

Here’s why: Family income is related to children’s outcomes in school and as working adults. A $1,000 increase in family income increases math and reading scores for children in low-income families, according to 2012 research published in the American Economic Review. A $3,000 increase for a family earning less than $25,000 increases a child’s long-term earning power, according to research published in the Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality’s Pathways magazine.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says Colorado is one of 26 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to allow at least some portion of child support to be paid directly to the TANF recipient with whom the child lives.

Colorado families who receive Colorado Works benefits and have an existing child support order don’t have to do anything to directly receive their child support. They will automatically receive the child support payment if the other parent makes the payment on time and Child Support Services has correct information on how to deliver the payment.

If a parent would like to start making payments, he or she can contact the Family Support Registry at 800-374-6558.

Children who have a strong start in life are better prepared to learn and develop the skills that will allow them to grow into contributing, productive citizens. Programs like these that support families ultimately result in significant savings for taxpayers.

What’s good for our children is good for Colorado. No child deserves to live in poverty.

Phyllis Albritton

Phyllis Albritton

Phyllis Albritton is the director of the Office of Economic Security in the Colorado Department of Human Services. She is responsible for overseeing Child Support Services, Colorado Works, Adult Financial programs, Refugee Services and Food Assistance, Energy Assistance and Food Distribution programs. 


2 comments

  • Claire Levy

    May 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Thank you for highlighting this important change in policy. Colorado Center on Law and Policy is proud to have spearheaded the effort to enact this change into law.

  • Ned Black

    May 24, 2017 at 10:55 am

    WOW !!..”Colorado Works” what a euphemistic term for welfare! Someone was really thinking hard there.
    Ms. Albritton states that a families economic security plays into a child’s well-being more than any other factor. That’s just not true. Many many children (myself included) have grown up in homes that were poor, sometimes very poor. There have been countless children that have come from poor backgrounds that grow up to be healthy happy citizens. On the flip side (especially now) many children are coming out of affluent homes and are absolute monsters. Maybe Ms Albritton didn’t have a mom and dad that loved and supported her? So she doesn’t understand the value of that against having “economic security”.

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