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How Being a Single Parent Who Needs Government Assistance is Hard

(Photo: iStock)

A single parent may establish parenthood of their child, provide estimated dates and locations of conception, home or work addresses of the other parent, or even sign away their right to child support payments to their state.

(Photo: iStock)

Depending on the state where you live, a single parent may have to agree to help the government recoup child support in order to receive child care assistance, food stamps, cash welfare, or even Medicaid.


According to VOX, to be able to receive government assistance in the US is to submit yourself to a host of requirements, some reasonable, some harsh. Each state and each program within it, has their own requirements. One requirement is especially revolting, and little known and studied: you must agree to cooperate with authorities on enforcing child support against the parent of your child.


Given that almost 80% of custodial parents are women, this is a welfare restriction with a disproportionate effect on one gender – one that piunishes someone for being a single parent. The requirements for a single parent have been rarely at the forefront of public debates about aid programs. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families created by President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform in 1996 requires child support cooperation universally.


These requirements for a single parent are more common in conservative state but are by no means limited to them. They range in severity, however, geeralyy they require a single parent to assist the state to open child support cases against non custodian parents. In practical terms, that might be as simple as providing the father’s name and address.

READ ALSO: Distribution Of SNAP Benefits In Indiana Provides Vital Food Support To Over 600,000 Residents

In other cases when a father isn’t known, a single parent seeking an exemption from these requirements may be forced to provide intimate details to government aid workers, or in cases that involved domestic abuse, justify why a single parent fears for their child’s safety before learning whether they will get assistance for food or health care.


Child support cooperation requirements subject a single parent to the state invading their privacy. These resttriitions are invasive, as much of its impact on welfare recipients is predictable. Their first function is to act as yet another administrative burden to a single parent receiving benefits.


More often than not, these people that are eligible for assistance fail to receive it for these procedural reasons. Administrative burdens and deterrent effects are terms that can mask the cold budgetary motivations for these policies. Child support cooperation requirements may seem to have a third cruel purpose which is to humiliate a single parent before their state.

READ ALSO: Losing Health Insurance — Coloradans Ranks 15th For Highest Rate Of Losing Medicaid

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