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CAFC Impact Seen In COAP Report

On March 10, 2008, the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) released its 2008 report on the Compromise Of Arrears Program (COAP). The report states that since its implementation in 2004, COAP has “demonstrated effectiveness in reducing arrears.” The report further lauds the program as “a valuable tool for collecting arrears that were once deemed uncollectible and reducing California’s growing child support arrears balance.” It allows noncustodial parents to compromise child support arrears in exchange for partial repayment and in some cases current child support to the family. CAFC sees this as a win-win for everyone.

COAP was spearheaded by CAFC in 2000. CAFC worked hard for the introduction and passage of AB 2082 – Wright and AB 1995 – Aroner. Ultimately, AB 1995 passed out of the legislature but was vetoed by then-Governor Davis. For the next several years, CAFC continued its efforts and was finally successful in getting the compromise program into a committee bill (AB 1752) in 2003. This bill became law and mandated a pilot compromise program.

CAFC’s efforts did not end there! We worked hard to ensure that the program did not sunset on January 1, 2007, and during the 2006 legislative session we were successful having the program it extended to 2009. We are also providing hands-on help to DCSS to show them how to streamline the program and allow DCSS to process case more efficiently.

CAFC was also invited to participate in Senator Elaine Alquist’s Health & Human Services subcommittee hearing on the COAP program on March 24th. CAFC sought to make COAP permanent but was successful only in getting an extension of the program until 2010. The committee wants to review another year of data before making a decision to make the program permanent. We will continue our efforts to see COAP succeed.

The March report demonstrates the success of the program and our efforts to ensure its passage and continuation. CAFC is very proud of its efforts to bring the COAP to life and to extend its successful run. As always, we couldn’t maintain these efforts without your continuing financial support. Your help is crucial so please donate now. As always, thank you for your generous support!

COAP Report Facts:

(1)  Through 2007, DCSS has received over 10,000 compromise applications totaling $89 million in settled arrears. The state has recouped $12 million on the settled cases and has granted $77 million in total relief to non-custodial parents.

(2)  The DCSS report states that 70% of the $14 billion in arrears is owed to CalWorks for public assistance paid to families; only 30% was owed to families. Furthermore, over half of the arrears were owed by non-custodial parents with net incomes below $10,000! In other words, the money in arrears is mostly owed by dead brokes, not dead beats.

(3)  The primary factors creating child support arrearages in CA: “high child support orders established for low-income obligors”; “a limited number of child support orders adjusted down-ward"; “establishment of retroactive