"Showing definitively that the child support agencies are engaged in financial fraud when they meddle in custody cases, kids are getting sold out and killed to the abusers the agency promotes and covers for." - AMPP
Combating Poverty: Understanding New Challenges for Families
Congressional Report on Fatherhood Funding Used in Family Courts and Testimony Submitted to Senate Committee hearing on “Combating Poverty: Understanding New Challenges for Families” that took place on June 5, 2012.
Dear Senate Finance Committee,
Please accept this testimony with regards to the Senate Finance Committee hearing on “Combating Poverty: Understanding New Challenges for Families” that took place on June 5, 2012.
Attached is a copy of the July 2011 letter from Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) Commissioner Vicky Turetsky to Senator John Kerry which declined to provide Senator Kerry with the information he requested, or follow up on his concerns regarding misappropriated funds. Turetsky essentially states that OCSE does not have any obligation to oversee OCSE program funding once the checks are cut from the Federal office to the State programs. Instead, Turetsky referred Senator Kerry’s concerns over OCSE fraud to the HHS OIG, who months before took the position that they lack jurisdiction to investigate a State child support program. So who is watching the hen house?
Our main concern is that Congress should distinguish between and place paramount the TANF programs which are means tested and provided to needy women and children below the poverty line, as opposed to the predatory TANF programs bankrupting the country by placing any unfit or unwilling father--even millionaires who abandon their kids--onto the welfare roles. Attached is a copy of an article this issue for the Huffington Post entitled “Top 5 HHS Programs Endangering Women And Children” that can also be found on line at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-stevenson/top-5-hhs-programs-endang_b_1511613.html
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program it created transformed welfare policy by drastically reducing and shifting federal assistance away from the homes of mothers and children and into the homes of violent male offenders. The original intent of welfare reform was to require States to function as collection agencies, recovering financial support from parents who had willfully abandoned their parental responsibilities to their children. These policies have drastically backfired because:
- it dedicated billions in TANF to programs for childless fathers that are not needs based,
- created redundant “to work” programs via HHS which were already funded via the Department of Labor and the Department of Education, but then excluded women and children from participation by labeling them Responsible Fatherhood programs,
- the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG)and the Government Accountability Officedetermined that the programs lacked oversight and are riddled with fraud, and
- State welfare programs adjusted their environment to have a greater need by casting a wider, less transparent net.
90% of those receiving TANF benefits are single mothers,so does it make sense to exclude them from the “to work” employment assistance component of welfare reform? Instead of helping children, welfare reform created a new breed of dangerous Kings through HHS Office of Child Support Enforcement when it began using non-needs based TANF programs to subsidize the homes and legal battles of the unfit, unwilling, and violent fathers (like mass murderer John Muhammad, the Beltway Sniper.)
OCSE is a federal agency which is supposed to be gender neutral and pro child, but is it? Note that Commissioner Turetsky was previously employed by HHS contractor Manpower Demonstration and Research Corporation (MDRC,) and that Ron Haskins is on the board of directors at MDRC.Haskins is co-director of the Brookings Institute’s Center on Children and Families, a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, former Senior Advisor to the President for Welfare Policy at the White House, who spent 14 years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee.Haskins is also on the board of the National Fatherhood Leadership Group with several other former HHS affiliated officials,yet together, Haskins and Turetsky promoted/solicited federal funding for MDRC policies and programsthat diverted TANF assistance to childless, wealthy offender fathers while targeting and excluding abused children and mothers. Is this a conflict of interest?
We can identify no legitimate purpose for these programs and request that Congress take the following actions:
- 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.
- End collateral child support/custody funding mandates.
- Overhaul Office on Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) on the federal level to remove staff with conflicts of interest and bias.
- Audit OCSE to find out where our tax dollars are actually going, and then implement rigorous transparency, oversight, and accountability measures on programs.
I. OIG DETERMINED THAT OCSE PROGRAMS ARE RIDDLED WITH FRAUD.
In 2011, the Office of the Inspector General released a reportcalled “Rollup Review on States' Reporting of Undistributable Child Support Collections as Program Income” that concluded 21 of the 23 States audited failed to properly report program income, and were hoarding tens of millions in child support collections by [intentionally or unintentionally] failing to make sufficient efforts to locate the children the resources are intended to benefit. Only a hand full of counties out of the several hundred contained in the relevant States were audited, and a review of the initial reports shows discrepancies that indicate the problem may be much larger than what the Administration is willing to admit.
The State agency classifies child support as “undistributable arrears” when it collects a child support payment but cannot identify or locate the custodial parent or return the funds to the noncustodial parent. Federal mandate requires that at the time when State law deems the funds “abandoned,” States must recognize and report the unallocated funds as program income in order to offset program costs. The Federal policy is that abandoned collections are then split 66% Federal share, 34% are retained by the State. However the OIG determined that all of the States had [intentionally or unintentionally] devised various “set up to fail” support distribution systems that allow the Agency to improperly hoard the child’s money in State coffers by mislabeling it “abandoned property.”
Examples of “set up to fail” policies the OIG listed include:
- 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.
The OIG determined that while some States claimed to be unaware of Federal reporting requirements, “These deficiencies occurred because States did not have adequate controls to ensure that undistributable child support collections were recognized and reported as program income in accordance with Federal requirements.”
In each instance, the OIG recommended solutions that failed to require State agencies to improve disbursement methods to ensure delivery of the funds to the child’s home. Instead, the OIG’s focus was to ensure the increased the State’s accuracy and compliance with Federal reporting requirements to ensure that the Federal HHS office received its’ 66% share of program income. The audits were done for support collected between 1999-2007, 23 states audited, but only a couple counties within each state were audited---NOT the entire state's child support system. So the fact that like Michigan may have audited 18 counties out of a total of 85 counties, and that those 18 counties stole $8 million from Michigan families is significant. What would the number be if they did audit the whole state?
But the 2011 roll up report is also incorrect for another reason---it appears to have under estimated the original auditor's findings. The 2011 "roll up" report is a collection of the findings in the original 23 states, most of which were complete by 2009. So I obtained copies of the original audit reports for every state, and found that many states were caught with their hands in the cookie jar for millions and millions of dollars, but the 2011 has them down as owing $0 sometimes.
1. Cook County, Illinois: (102 Counties in IL, not sure why it appears only 1 is audited)
2011 Roll Up Total: $1.8 million, 2005 report: $3.4 Million
2. Michigan: (85 counties, only 18 audited?)
2011 Roll Up Total: $5.3 million
2006 report: $8 Million
3. Georgia: (159 counties, none audited, just the state program---so my impression was that the county courts contracted by the State who collected support independently but not through state coffers were never reviewed)
2011 Roll Up Total: $238,000
2007 report: $1.2 million
2007 report: $3.3 Million
o Orange county: $2.2 million
o Riverside County: $245,000
o Los Angeles county: $878,000
But the LA county report is perhaps inaccurate for another reason, because at the same time the OIG conducted the audit, Attorney Richard Fine sued LA County for holding $14 million in child support collections from LA county children.He won the case, and the county had to disburse the $14 million to the families. But this total is not included in the OIG's report.
II. TANF CHILD SUPPORT PROGRAMS ADAPT TO ARTIFICIALLY INCREASE NEED FOR THEIR OWN SERVICES
These reports and others reflect the fact that TANF’s generous collection incentive policies may have in effect created a child support vacuum as States to adapt their practices to reflect a greater demand and need for resources that are ultimately withheld from needy families.
- Recovery Act: Thousands of Recovery Act Contract and Grant Recipients Owe Hundreds of Millions in Federal Taxes
- Government Accountability Office report recently came out which shows that these HHS grant recipients owe us struggling taxpaying families hundreds of BILLIONS in taxes. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-686T
- 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. This 2011 reportfound that although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided generous matching funds on State support collections:
“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 Programshttp://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-839R
III. TANF PROGRAMS FOR CHILDLESS FATHERS ARE NOT NEEDS BASED.
If the goal of some Fatherhood programs is so child support benefits “trickle down” to the child during tough economic times, why does Commissioner Turesky’s department make TANF available to the 1% of child support debtors making more than $50,000-who are unfit or unwilling to have kids live in their homes? Unlike the welfare programs for women and children which had restrictive income eligibility requirements, TANF diverts billions of dollars through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to non-needs based programs exclusively available to unfit and unwilling fathers, such as Healthy Families Initiatives, Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives, and Access and Visitation Initiatives.
- Child support obligations are suspended
- Free attorney representation in the family courts to fight for custody
- Free housing
- Direct cash incentives
- Free groceries
- Free car maintenance, gas, and other transportation costs
- Free healthcare and dental care
These TANF benefits are not intended to directly reach children, their purpose is to reward the unfit and unwilling childless fathers who lost custody of them. The incentives are structured so that the State will only benefit if children are removed from loving homes, then arbitrarily placed with male offenders who previously lost custody. If the programs do not successfully increase in the percentage of noncustodial fathers who file for and win custody, they will not get paid.
HHS reports show that 80% of Fatherhood program participants are court ordered to attend, and many are recruited directly from prison.In 2000, Commissioner Turesky authored a paper for the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) that concluded:
"Many women trying to leave an abusive home rely on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, financial assistance to women in poverty may lessen their risk of violence… about 20 percent of women receiving cash assistance are current victims of domestic violence, while about 50 to 60 percent have experienced domestic violence during their adulthood."
Considering that Commissioner Turesky also claimed in a 2006 CLASP policy brief that 70% of all child support arrears are owed to the government to pay back TANF costs,doesn’t this mean that the overwhelming majority of fathers enrolled in compromise of arrears programs are violent, unfit fathers? This may explain why recent studies found children fare far worse when support is court ordered.
The programs also punish the majority of responsible fathers who willingly provide love and support to their children. Using the virtually unregulated child support system as a vehicle and the father's will to evade prison time as collateral,the fathers are told they can risk their liberty and property attempting to pay down arrears, or alternatively, sue the mother for custody using a variety of federally funded "supports." Children in safe homes do not need rehabilitation, so often times a “need” is created by the State by placing children deliberately in an unsafe home.
The effect of these Fatherhood and welfare reform policies is to place the middle class on welfare by “leaving no family member undiagnosed” when they come into contact with the family courts. At the beginning of a custody case, only the offender is sick, but if one violent offender gets custody, the whole family needs treatment. Consequently for courts and social services agencies to appoint dozens of federally funded family court mental health and legal professionals onto the case to sustain the deadly custody rights of a single violent father.
IV. THE GAO DETERMINED THAT OCSE FATHERHOOD PROGRAMS ARE RIDDLED WITH FRAUD.
HHS fraud costs tax payers $60 billion per year, and it is not improving.When you start to look at how many contracts are going to the same network of providers like Manpower, Maximus, Goodwill Industries, etc. with inside connections to HHS Administration, it is also worth asking yourselves if and when Congress will investigate these conflicts of interest?
In 2008, the GAO released a report entitled “HEALTHY MARRIAGE AND RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE: Further Progress Is Needed in Developing a Risk-Based Monitoring Approach to Help HHS Improve Program Oversight” that concluded that these programs were riddled with fraud and not performing.The GAO concluded that HHS failed to create oversight mechanisms or standard performance goals prior to disbursing $500 million in grants to hastily chosen programs meant to serve children living in high-risk families:
“HHS…lacks mechanisms to identify and target grantees that are not in compliance with grant requirements or are not meeting performance goals… Our review of grantee case files found documentation of grantees that were not meeting performance targets…or not in compliance with grant requirements, such as providing only those services allowed under the grant.”
$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.
Please recall that the irresponsible programs are recruiting violent offenders directly from prisonsto help them obtain legal and physical custody of the child victim witnesses they hurt, yet the GAO cannot directly account for the activities or the funding going into the programs.
Although groups cannot use TANF money for attorneys, the literature shows that some groups like Illinois Council on Fatherhoodprovides fathers with legal advice and exceptional access to judges, Michigan is providing dads with legal assistance,and the Montrose County, Colorado Fatherhood programmatch up fathers with “Fatherhood Coaches” who also just happen to be attorneys who want to help them with their child support and custody problems.
You should ask yourselves who represents the victim child’s interests while their violent noncustodial fathers use concealed child support and federal assistance to build up legal arsenals to take custody and silence them? HHS programs are actually a deadly investment given that (a) abusive men win custody of their victims 70% of the timewhen they ask for it, and (b) regardless of the gender of the victim, it is a public safety issue when DOJ studiesshow men perpetrate more than 95% of violent assaults against women. The Center for Disease Control’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Surveyalso concluded that men are raped by other men more than 93% of the time, and women are raped by men more than 98% of the time.
Programs like the Massachusetts Department of Probation’sprovide “treatment” to thousands of untreatable, incurable violent offenders and sociopaths targeting their victims through the courts Although violence is a voluntary act, HHS now invested our tax dollars into rehabilitating the incurable who choose to assault the most vulnerable members of society. Some Studiesof male DV perpetrators show that 50% of them are sociopaths and another 25% have sociopathic tendancies. Psychopaths are people who feel no emotional connections to others and have zero regard for the rules and regulations of society, they do not respond to therapy, and cannot be rehabilitated. Dr. Robert Hare reports that psychopaths make up 1% of the general population, but 25% of the prison population:
"Violence is not uncommon among offender populations, but psychopaths still manage to stand out," he says. "They commit more than twice as many violent and aggressive acts, both in and out of prison, as do other criminals ... The recidivism rate of psychopaths is about double that of other offenders ... The violent recidivism rate of psychopaths is about triple that of other offenders."
Respectfully, would you as a member of Congress, allow your children to be cared for by convicted murderers and felons? If you believe these “fathers” are harmless, why do you pass budgets that provide for armed guards to protect Congressional hearings and family courts? These programs have no legitimate purpose because here is no epidemic of “fatherlessness” that in itself harms children. There is no “fatherlessness crisis” that would justify such ruthless and irresponsible pork barrel spending on discrimination based TANF programs that exclude 90% of the TANF roles, the women and children they purport to want to get off welfare and “go to work”-but place wealthy single men on the TANF roles instead.
We believe the majority of men are genetically programmed to be good fathers, and we do not agree with HHS’s assessment that all men are incompetent and need federally funded parenting lessons. Dangerous offenders have no business raising children. We are a nation of strong single mothers who raised Presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both of whom were rescued from the clutches of fathers who were irresponsible, violent addicts. These Fatherhood programs now undermine and punish mothers who try and rescue their children and stay off public assistance, while punishing good fathers and abetting the irresponsible, no matter how rich or poor.
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. When the OIG identified the embezzled funds, they did not help “struggling agencies” 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.
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.
Instead of fixing these programs, Obama's proposed budget includes billions more in incentives to disburse and collect support to the programs with no oversight. If the core mission of the child support program is to collect and disburse support to needy children, this is an administrative function which in 2012 should be handled electronically through the treasury. There is no need to create billion in incentives to involve the support agency in taking over the judicial branch’s functions in custody cases.
Fred Sottile, the Founder and President of the LA chapter of Fathers 4 Justice says in his view:
“The President should spend his efforts creating laws and policies that actually encourage father/child relationships, instead of just pretending to promote father/child relationships in extortion based OCSE programs that deprive children and blame dads for being absent.”
Linda Marie Sacks, Co-Chair of the Family Court Committee of the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women:
“The vast majority of fathers do not abuse children, and there are many instances where courts have unjustly deprived children of good fathers. The problem is that the programs punish children living with healthy strong mothers by incentivizing courts to cash in by arbitrarily minimizing and even eliminating moms from the picture.
Since there is virtually no oversight of OCSE funding, we have often found that this funding used to help pedophile rapists and violent predators get custody of child victim witnesses through the family courts. Studies showabusers are winning custody 70% of the time, and we think the programs will have catastrophic results on the next generation if this unsafe trend of maternal deprivation continues. ”
Liz Richards, Director for the National Alliance for Family Court Justice and a certified witness for the Department of Justice agrees.
“HHS is the source of the funding which is fueling the court corruption problems. Judge are making their rulings according to the program grant requirements and not by the case evidence. Past ACF officials like Wade Horn, Ron Haskins, and others were closely associated with the fathers rights groups and leaders, and essentially turned the dept into a pro-father, abuse cover-up agency.”
In 2012, 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.
 “Rollup Review on States' Reporting of Undistributable Child Support Collections as Program Income ” HHS OIG report A-05-11-00025, September 30, 2011 (http://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region5/51100025.asp)
 “HEALTHY MARRIAGE AND RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE:
Further Progress Is Needed in Developing a Risk-Based Monitoring Approach to Help HHS Improve Program Oversight “Government Accountability Office Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, September 2008. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081002.pdf
 “Parental Rights And Wrongs” By Liz Richards, Washington Times,
 “Rollup Review on States' Reporting of Undistributable Child Support Collections as Program Income” HHS OIG report A-05-11-00025, September 30, 2011 (http://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region5/51100025.asp)
 Id. At FN 
 “OCSE Responsible Fatherhood Programs Early Implementation Lessons” Jessica Pearson, Center for Policy Research, Inc. David Price, Policy Studies, Inc. June 2000
With comments: http://www.nafcj.net/ocsefr.htm
Original Text: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED463839.pdf
“HHS Around the Regions 2005 Activities” http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/Partners/regions/regions06.shtml
 Id. At FN  “OCSE Responsible Fatherhood Programs Early Implementation Lessons”
 “Safety in the Safety Net: TANF Reauthorization Provisions Relevant to Domestic Violence”
 “Staying in Jobs and Out of the Underground: Child Support Policies that Encourage Legitimate Work” Vicki Turetsky, CLASP 2006 http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/0349.pdf
 “Young children of unmarried parents fare worse when a father's support is court-ordered”
 “Giving Noncustodial Parents Options: Employment and Child Support Outcomes of the SHARE Program” Irma Perez-Johnson, Jacqueline Kauff, and Alan Hershey, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., October 2003
 “Unified Family Courts: Treating the Whole Family, Not Just the Young Drug Offender” American Bar Association/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, November 2000
 “Pedophilia in the Justice System” By Kieth Harmon Snow, Conscious Being Alliance, May 1, 2012
 “HEALTHY MARRIAGE AND RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE:
Further Progress Is Needed in Developing a Risk-Based Monitoring Approach to Help HHS Improve Program Oversight”Government Accountability Office Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, September 2008. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081002.pdf
 National Fatherhood Initiative: http://www.fatherhood.org/page.aspx?pid=375
 Montrose County, Colorado http://www.montrosecounty.net/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1721