Lansing, MI - Some Michigan parents who receive cash assistance will see increases in child support paid to them under a policy change enabled by the state’s fiscal year 2023 budget.
The budget allows low-income families that are receiving both cash assistance and child support to receive an additional $1.1 million this year. Without the change, the $1.1 million would be recouped by the state instead of reaching children.
The change is a continuation of efforts by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to assist families who receive both child support and cash assistance through the Family Independence Program.
Beginning with the signing of the fiscal year 2020 state budget, Whitmer created a partial child support “pass-through” to allow families to receive additional funds. In 2021, families who received cash assistance and child support got $2.65 million in child support instead of these funds reimbursing state and federal program costs. This policy continued in 2022.
“We’re pleased to place Michigan at the forefront of the movement among states to implement a full pass-through,” said Elizabeth Hertel, director of MDHHS, which houses the state’s Office of Child Support. “Putting more money into the accounts of families is especially important right now, with living expenses increasing.”
Currently, MDHHS passes through up to $200 of child support each month to families with two or more children and up to $100 to families with one child. MDHHS keeps a portion of child support payments above those amounts that would be paid to parents who receive cash assistance. This collected money is paid to the federal and state government to offset Family Independence Program expenses. However, federal law permits states to “pass through” child support directly to families instead of using it to recoup the government expenses.
Sending these dollars to families rather than keeping it may increase participation and cooperation with Michigan’s Child Support Program because the paying parents know a portion of what they pay will go to the family instead of the government. The parent or caretaker who receives the child support is also more likely to help the program establish and enforce child support orders instead of bypassing the program through a personal arrangement.
Families receiving cash assistance will get the increased payments only if the parent who owes child support pays it in the month it is due. Court-ordered medical support payments will not be passed through to cash assistance recipients who are Medicaid beneficiaries and will continue to be paid to the state to offset Medicaid expenses.
These changes to child support payments will begin in January 2023. Cash assistance clients who have received a child support payment in the past six months will receive a letter notifying them of the change.