August is Child Support Awareness Month | Editorial

August is Child Support Awareness Month | Editorial

I had a deadbeat dad. For those not familiar with the term, it’s when a parent intentionally fails to pay child support as ordered by the court system.

What that meant to me, as a child, is that one of my parents didn’t value me enough to provide financial support. For my mom and stepdad, it meant all of the financial burden fell on their shoulders.

When I ponder this phenomenon of parents eluding child support, it infuriates me. Why would any father or mother think they have the right to walk away from such a responsibility? But it happens every day, and state agencies like the Department of Social and Health Services are working hard to ensure children receive the financial and emotional care they need.

All 50 states celebrate August as Child Support Awareness Month. It’s a time to celebrate parents who are working hard for their kids, and educate families on programs that can help.

According to DSHS, “Children thrive when family members work together to provide for their emotional and physical needs. This is especially important when a family structure changes, because regardless of the family dynamic, the child’s needs remain constant.”

Each year, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Child Support serves approximately 360,000 kids and collects around $682 million a year in child support.

DSHS has programs to help all parents, and can offer answers to the following questions: How do I pay my child support? How do I receive my court-ordered child support? How do I apply for child support? If I am raising my grandchild, can I collect child support from the parents? Does the Division of Child Support collect child support from other states or countries? As an employer, how do I report a new hire? How does domestic violence impact my case? Visit www.dshs.wa.gov or call 1-800-457-6202 for additional information.

For those who want to meet their child support obligations but are unable to, it can be emotionally detrimental to the entire family unit. According to DSHS, “Most parents in our community want to help their children and be a part of their families but many parents struggle.” The department offers the Alternative Solutions Program, which helps individuals find services to overcome barriers such as unemployment, homelessness or past legal trouble. Two-thirds of parents looking for jobs find one while in the program. Email alternativesolutions@dshs.wa.gov or call 1-360-664-5028 to find out more. We congratulate DSHS for providing long-term help to those who want to be better mothers and fathers.

Your presence – financially, physically and emotionally – shapes your child’s future. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.