The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Promoting Responsibility


Comprehensive child support enforcement.

The new law includes the child support enforcement measures President Clinton proposed in 1994 -- the most sweeping crackdown on non-paying parents in history. These measures could increase child support collections by $24 billion and reduce federal welfare costs by $4 billion over 10 years. Under the new law, each state must operate a child support enforcement program meeting federal requirements in order to be eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grants. Provisions include:

o National new hire reporting system.

The law establishes a Federal Case Registry and National Directory of New Hires to track delinquent parents across state lines. It also requires that employers report all new hires to state agencies for transmittal of new hire information to the National Directory of New Hires. This builds on President Clinton's June 1996 executive action to track delinquent parents across state lines. The law also expands and streamlines procedures for direct withholding of child support from wages.

o Streamlined paternity establishment.

The new law streamlines the legal process for paternity establishment, making it easier and faster to establish paternities. It also expands the voluntary in-hospital paternity establishment program, started by the Clinton Administration in 1993, and requires a state form for voluntary paternity acknowledgment. In addition, the law mandates that states publicize the availability and encourage the use of voluntary paternity establishment processes. Individuals who fail to cooperate with paternity establishment will have their monthly cash assistance reduced by at least 25 percent.

o Uniform interstate child support laws.

The new law provides for uniform rules, procedures, and forms for interstate cases.

o Computerized state-wide collections.

The new law requires states to establish central registries of child support orders and centralized collection and disbursement units. It also requires expedited state procedures for child support enforcement.

o Tough new penalties.

Under the new law, states can implement tough child support enforcement techniques. The new law will expand wage garnishment, allow states to seize assets, allows states to require community service in some cases, and enable states to revoke drivers and professional licenses for parents who owe delinquent child support.

o "Families First."

Under a new "Family First" policy, families no longer receiving assistance will have priority in the distribution of child support arrears. This new policy will bring families who have left welfare for work about $1 billion in support over the first six years.

o Access and visitation programs.

In an effort to increase noncustodial parents' involvement in their children's lives, the new law includes grants to help states establish programs that support and facilitate noncustodial parents' visitation with and access to their children.

Teen Parent Provisions

o Live at home and stay in school requirements.

Under the new law, unmarried minor parents will be required to live with a responsible adult or in an adult-supervised setting and participate in educational and training activities in order to receive assistance. States will be responsible for locating or assisting in locating adult-supervised settings for teens.

o Teen Pregnancy Prevention.

Starting in FY 1998, $50 million a year in mandatory funds would be added to the appropriations of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant for abstinence education. In addition, the Secretary of HHS will establish and implement a strategy to (1) prevent non-marital teen births, and (2) assure that at least 25 percent of communities have teen pregnancy prevention programs. No later than January 1, 1997, the Attorney General will establish a program that studies the linkage between statutory rape and teen pregnancy, and that educates law enforcement officials on the prevention and prosecution of statutory rape.