Support for Child Support

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Child-support payments should be as easy to make as car payments. Employers help their workers repay credit-union loans with voluntary payroll deductions, and now the city of Los Angeles is encouraging companies to follow suit in order to improve the compliance with child-support orders. It doesn’t cost much to do. It can actually save time and money by avoiding the hassle that occurs when an employee’s wages are garnisheed. And, most important, it makes sure that children’s needs for food, shelter and clothing can be met.

Many divorced parents do pay to support their children, but others have problems disciplining themselves to do so. Studies show that fewer than half the parents who are awarded child support receive the full amount that their children are owed; one-fourth get no support at all.

The Los Angeles city government, acting on a motion last year by City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, has taken the lead in trying to help its own 38,000 employees. More than $340,000 a year is now automatically deducted from city employees’ paychecks and sent directly to more than 100 families. City Controller Rick Tuttle, whose office handles the payroll, said, “The cost has been so minimal that it has easily been absorbed into the city’s operation.” Galanter says that similar plans will soon be available for 7,000 people employed by the Los Angeles Community College District, 11,000 workers at the Department of Water and Power and 5,000 people employed by the city of Long Beach.


Now the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce has pledged to encourage its 2,800 members to consider the voluntary program, and Transamerica Life Companies has announced that it will start the plan for its 3,500 employees.

The program helps children. And it could ultimately save society some welfare costs if it keeps single parents and their children out of poverty. It’s a modest investment, with solid dividends.