The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.
HB 1469 requires the first $100 for one child and $200 for two or more children collected in child support in a month to pass through to a family seeking assistance under the Family Investment Program. The bill also prohibits the consideration of that child support in computing the amount of assistance and has been amended to delay the effective date of this legislation to July 1, 2019.
The Church is a constant advocate for the needs of families and communities, and views the family as a foundational structure for society. Presently, families that receive Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) in Maryland are required to assign their child support to the State so that State and Federal governments can reimburse themselves for the cost of providing cash assistance through the child support payments. Unfortunately, this creates a strong disincentive for non-custodial parents to make child support payments because the money is not directly going to the child(ren) they are supporting.
Over 20 other states have adopted legislation that allows a certain amount of money to directly pass through to the family and be disregarded in the benefit calculation for TCA. Maryland has a great opportunity to join those other states in strengthening its support for families. Non-custodial parents are more likely to make formal payments and get credit for their contributions when such policies are in place. When families have greater financial support, they can meet more of their basic needs, such as clothes, housing, and food. In addition to the benefits for families, passing this legislation means that the federal government would waive their share of the collection of the reimbursement for TCA, so the amount collected will stay in Maryland.
Pope Francis said, “The family constitutes the best ‘social capital.’ It cannot be replaced by other institutions. It needs to be helped and strengthened, lest we lose our proper sense of the services which society as a whole provides.” The legislation is greatly needed to strengthen Maryland families and help them have greater financial stability.
The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges you to support HB 1469.