Child support payments are an essential resource for families in poverty. Maria Cancian and Robert Doar agree that state and federal governments need to do more to increase child support orders and collections to benefit families.
Maria Cancian, dean of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, and Robert Doar, McCourt Advisory Board member and president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), are longtime colleagues who frequently disagree on policy solutions. Ahead of the 2023 Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) Fall Research Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, they joined forces to examine the child support system, one of the most powerful tools governments have to encourage parental involvement.
Cancian and Doar co-authored an appraisal of the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) system, which provides services to locate absent parents, establish paternity and enforce support obligations. In their working paper, titled “Child Support Policy: Areas of Emerging Agreement and Ongoing Debate,” Cancian and Doar identify long-term issues of concern and areas of emerging agreement.
They argue that CSE reduces child poverty, helps to promote parental responsibility, especially for parents living apart from their children, and is a convenience for many families. Cancian and Doar agree that collected child support should always directly benefit children, not offset government costs.
Cancian, whose research considers the dynamic between public policies and family well-being, has advised local, state and federal agencies on policy initiatives designed to improve outcomes, especially for low-income and otherwise vulnerable families.
Doar, who joined AEI in 2014 to lead the Institute’s opportunity and mobility studies program, served in leadership positions in the social service programs of New York State and New York City for more than 20 years.