Child Support Arrearages – Michigan

Michigan rules derail child support payments, By Catherine Jun, December 7, 2009, Detroit News: “Scores of Michigan parents have fallen behind on their child support payments, and state regulations prevent some from ever catching up. A large percentage of the debt is due to a surcharge the state began applying to delinquent payers in 1996, officials acknowledge. Though designed to encourage parents not to skip the payments, the surcharge has pushed some parents into such a deep hole they can’t climb out. About $9.2 billion in back child support is owed in Michigan, affecting more than 600,000 children. That’s about two-thirds of child support cases in the state. With state unemployment at 15 percent, courts and prosecutors that hunt down deadbeat dads are finding some fathers don’t have the money to pay. ‘Yeah, I have been falling behind,’ said Jeremy Deron, 38, of Westland, who was ordered to pay at least $5,000 in back payments by January. Deron, who lost his job a year and a half ago as a union bricklayer, said he regularly paid child support for his two sons until his unemployment checks ran out a few months ago. Now he faces a felony charge if he misses the January deadline. ‘I don’t have the five grand,’ he said. ‘Now I’m fighting to stay out of jail.’ Michigan ranks third among states with the highest amount of uncollected child support funds. The state surcharge is a key culprit, compounding the debt of delinquent payers by essentially adding interest onto overdue back payments, said Marilyn Stephen, director of the state Office of Child Support…”

Rural School Districts and Poverty

  • The fourth ‘R’: Rural school systems locally face big challenges, By Andrea Castillo, December 8, 2009, Macon Telegraph: “Georgia has the third-highest rural student population in the country, according to a report released by the Rural School and Community Trust in November. More than 500,000 Georgia students attend rural schools, making up more than one-third of the state’s student population, according to the analysis. Georgia’s rural schools tend to have high poverty rates among students and low graduation rates, according to the report. The report was compiled using data from the 2006-07 school year from the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau and The New America Foundation. School officials in several Middle Georgia counties say one of the challenges of serving students in rural schools is having a smaller tax base, limiting the academic and cultural resources the schools can offer students. In addition, student poverty – commonly measured through eligibility for free and reduced lunches – affects the students in a number of ways, from reduced student concentration and parent involvement to transportation limitations…”
  • Report shows poverty in rural schools, By Paula Wolf, December 6, 2009, Lancaster Sunday News: “Some of the county’s most rural school districts have their share of impoverished children, according to figures released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. The School District of Lancaster, which covers Lancaster city and Lancaster Township, and Columbia Borough School District top the list with 26.9 and 19.6 percent of children ages 5-17 in families in poverty. But in three other districts – Eastern Lancaster County, Solanco and Pequea Valley – at least 13.9 percent of children in that age range live in poverty, exceeding the Lancaster County average of 12.4 percent, the census reported. The numbers, for 2008, are from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program. They were produced for the U.S. Department of Education to help it enforce the No Child Left Behind Act. The estimates take into account children residing within the school district’s borders – not just those enrolled in district schools…”

Louisiana Kids Count Report

  • One in four local kids in poverty, report says, By Nikki Buskey, December 8, 2009, Thibodaux Daily Comet: “One of every four children in Lafourche and Terrebonne lives in poverty, a new report shows. That’s 5,223 children, or 24 percent, in Lafourche. In Terrebonne, it’s 6,934, or 25 percent. The federal standard for poverty is an annual income of $20,650 for a family of four. The number of children living in poverty locally is just below the state average, according to the 2009 Kids Count report, produced by Agenda for Children, a Louisiana advocacy group. Statewide, 27 percent of children, or 285,425 kids, are living in poverty. The child-poverty rate in Louisiana is twice as high as the elderly poverty rate, which is 13 percent…”
  • Poverty in three parishes severe, By Stephen Largen, December 5, 2009, Monroe News Star: “Northeastern Louisiana’s Delta is home to three of the top 25 parishes or counties in the United States with the highest rate of children whose families have incomes below the federal poverty threshold, according to a report released this week. Morehouse Parish (51 percent of children in poverty), Tensas Parish (50 percent of children in poverty) and East Carroll Parish (56 percent of children in poverty), labeled by Newsweek in 1994 as ‘The Poorest Place in America,’ all earned the dubious distinction in the 2009 Kids Count Data Book on Louisiana’s Children, produced by Agenda for Children. East Carroll Parish has not shed that label in the intervening years: according to the report, East Carroll has a higher percentage of its residents on welfare than any county or parish in the United States. The report is based on 2007 data from state agencies and the U.S. Census Bureau…”

Food Stamp Program Enrollment

  • Hard times, hard choices: The decision to go on food stamps, By Jim Spencer, December 6, 2009, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Three years ago, the National Republican Congressional Committee gave Ini Augustine a Congressional Medal of Distinction, recognizing her prospering temporary-employment business. Today, Augustine is among tens of thousands of Minnesotans forced on to food stamps for the first time by a recession that first imploded the stock market and now has exploded stereotypes of welfare recipients. ‘I’ve been working since I was 13,’ Augustine, 28, said. ‘I never had trouble finding a job.’ Until now…”
  • In Twin Cities, foods stamps are feeding the suburbs, By Jason Hoppin and MaryJo Webster, December 7, 2009, Pioneer Press: “Off carefully planned streets and behind manicured lawns, welfare is increasingly putting food on the dinner tables of Minnesota’s suburban families. As job losses batter Minnesota’s economy – 70 percent of the state’s $1.2 billion deficit is attributed to lost wages – the use of food stamps, called Food Support in Minnesota, is on the rise. But a look at the numbers shows that while the use of food stamps is still most prevalent in the urban core, it is in the suburbs where their use is rising the fastest. Both wealthier and less diverse than other parts of the state, the suburbs are often perceived to be free of the ills that gnaw at bigger cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul. But over the past decade, that has started to change…”
  • Number of S.J. residents receiving food assistance up by thousands, By Zachary K. Johnson, December 7, 2009, Stockton Record: “Thousands more county residents now receive food assistance every month than did just a year ago, mirroring a nationwide climb in the number of people receiving federal food stamps benefits. In October, 77,814 county residents benefited from the program, an 18 percent increase from the 65,861 residents in October 2008, according to San Joaquin County Human Services Agency, which administers the program. The number of people in the program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has been rising steadily since at least July 2008, when the number of people getting the benefit was at 63,520…”
  • Under-use of program costs county millions, By Zachary K. Johnson, December 7, 2009, Stockton Record: “Up to 142,000 people in San Joaquin County struggle to afford enough to eat, but many of them are not receiving federal assistance to help put food on the table, according to reports recently released by a statewide advocacy group. If everyone eligible for food stamps benefits in the county received them, another $46.8 million in federal money would flow into the county each year, according to the California Food Policy Advocates. But the impact would be greater, generating $86 million in economic activity as food stamp beneficiaries spend more money, according to the group’s Lost Dollars, Empty Plates report released last month…”