There are many people working hard in various levels and capacities supporting struggling families. For none of them is it their job to take a step back to look at the larger view of the system and see if it is working most effectively on behalf of those it is there to serve.
As I have been out talking to many people of varying backgrounds and status in society, these issues are widespread. These are some basic ways based on real-life stories in our community that we can use to get started on making the system work better on behalf of Virginia families:
Child support and child custody tracks run parallel. They need to intersect and talk to each other. If a child is pulled from a home (such as because of abuse and neglect by a parent), child support paid to that home by the other parent for that child should automatically stop.
If child support was ordered to be paid to someone for a time even though that child was not in that person’s home, a judge should have an option, if not a requirement, to reverse those orders retroactively.
Child Protective Services should check to see if an age difference between the parents when the child was conceived warrants further investigation and then pass this information along to relevant jurisdictions.
If a single parent is reaching out to Child Protective Services for help in raising her children, the bar needs to be raised for when CPS can pull the child from the home. The last thing the mother wants is to lose her child and be sent a bill for that child’s care outside her home.
Child Support Services could have some built in incentives to make sure child support is paid even when it’s not to them for foster care, but just from one parent to another. As one mother put it, they don’t care who the daddy is until it’s costing them money, and then they’re more than motivated to find out.
You have an advocate ready to speak and act on your behalf in Richmond.