All children need basic necessities, such as food and clothing, and child support payments provide a critical means for custodial parents to meet these needs. Child support payments are an important resource for many families and contribute to family self-sufficiency and economic stability. For many low-income families headed by a single parent, these payments serve as a survival tool to make ends meet.

Research strongly suggests that child support improves numerous aspects of child well-being. For school-age children, receipt of child support is associated with improved behavior, cognitive development, and academic success. Older children in families receiving child support receive more schooling, have higher chances of obtaining a high school diploma, and are more likely to go to college than those not receiving child support. Additionally, fathers who pay child support are more likely to be involved in their children’s life and provide emotional support.

In Kentucky, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Division of Child Support works to collect child support through services such as locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity, establishing support orders, and collecting support payments. The new Kentucky Child Support Customer Service Website provides all involved parties easy access to information regarding their child support case, including the ability for noncustodial parents to make online payments.

During state fiscal year (SFY) 2012, Kentucky’s child support program collected over $400 million in child support owed, however that represents just 58 percent of the total obligated amount of child support statewide. Collection rates varied greatly across counties (as shown in the map below), ranging from a low of 27 percent to a high of 73 percent.

Percent of Child Support Collected by County, SFY 2012

Child Support Map

Image Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT Data Center,

Efforts to increase child support collections focus on two key steps: establishing paternity and establishing a court order for payment of child support. Although supported by federal and state agencies, local government jurisdictions are ultimately responsible for child support enforcement. Since child support payments are especially critical to the welfare of low-income children, local enforcement efforts to increase collection rates should be a top priority.