University of Wisconsin–Madison
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The Importance of Child Support for Low-Income Families

Given the exceptional treatment of child support payments in Wisconsin, child support is likely to play a more essential role for custodial mothers with low incomes, especially for welfare recipients, in Wisconsin than in other states. However, we know little about the significance of child support in families receiving cash benefits. Furthermore, very little is known about how the role of child support as an income source differs between low-income families of custodial mothers in Wisconsin and their counterparts in other states.

In this paper, we use Wisconsin survey data and state administrative records to examine the importance of child support for Wisconsin custodial mothers who entered the state’s Wisconsin Works (W-2) program in its first year. We also compare a broader group of low-income families in Wisconsin to those in other states, using data from a national survey to consider the Wisconsin case from a national perspective.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Family Income