Currently in South Dakota, we take pride in our balanced budgets and our fiscal conservativism. Many of us love that our state is financially responsible, but the great nature of that conservativism can, at times, also be a negative. While preaching from the highest point on the Great Plains how well we do things alone, and that family values are at the core of who we are here as a state, South Dakota is secretly reliant on federal money, keeping sincere better policies from being put into law. Especially when it comes to family.
Case in point: Federal government grants on child support enforcement.
Seven-eight million dollars in federal grants were run through the SD Department of Social Services and Division of Child Support in 2012 alone. These dollars keep our child support and social services offices running. These grants are only one of the ways the state is making money from child support and it’s enforcement.
Why is this worth talking about?
First, for every child support dollar collected by the state, a reward in grant money from the federal government comes in. This means incentive for the state to allow inequitable parenting time with a child of divorce with his or her parents, Do you find yourself scratching your head asking what this means? Well, the way child support works: The less time one parent spends with his or her children, the more child support dollars are collected. This in turn means more money that the state of South Dakota pockets from the federal government. If parents share more equal time, fewer dollars are exchanging hands. Which means federal dollars coming into the state decrease as a result if this were the case. It’s a money game our our state and federal elected officials are playing, not what is in the best interest of our children.
This grant money actually gives states incentives to alienate one parent from a child’s life for profit.
Second, the federal government also gives states like South Dakota financial incentive to enforce visitation orders, $100,000 annually. None however for enforcement of child custody agreements when a custodial parent refuses to allow children time with a non-custodial parent despite it being their legally agreed upon time with their children.
$7 million for child support enforcement and $100,000 for visitation enforcement. These numbers clearly indicate why state officials have not seriously taken reform in visitation and shared parenting to heart. It is clearly not in our states best interest – financially – to grant more equal custody situations as they will lose federal grant moneys. Little consideration is given to the actual family best case scenario when too much money is at stake.
Of course, this is only one of the many ways the state makes money from alienating parent and child. See statistics here.
Further proving the point our state is concerned more with money than a child’s best interest: There are over 130 statutes dealing with child support and it’s enforcement in South Dakota law, conversely there are 2 statutes dealing with a parent denying visitation or parenting time.
South Dakota is open for business, does well in business and operates at times conservatively. But in the process, also continues to be in the business of making money off of further tearing families apart in what is already one of the most challenging times in their lives.
These things happen in others states as well, those with even larger populations than South Dakota have even more to gain/lose.
Child support is important so that we can guarantee our children are best cared for in every way, we are not arguing this. What we are arguing is that the government should not be giving incentives to keep one parent out of kids’ lives. We should all provide for our kids, the best way to do that is to equalize parenting time. This alone in capable and fit families would maximize child support. Why? Because both parents could provide for the child in their own respective home, child support paid to another parent would be minimal (our government not looking to make a buck off of us in the meantime), and the finances used for child care could then be maximized in both homes. Although, fewer dollars running through a state government agency would mean less profit for the state and hundreds of state employes twiddling their thumbs, or with no job at all. Well, we just can’t have that, now can we.
This isn’t the only area where South Dakota, while claiming to be conservative, is quite liberal and reliant on federal dollars to balance its budget.
It should also be pointed out that in order to maximize actual child support for our children, equal parenting would allow each parent to 1) maximize time in the workplace for income 2) allow each parent to keep his or her income to provide for the child in his or her home. Currently one parent is often so financially overburdened financially, even with minimal parenting time, cannot provide for that child in his or her home. How is this “the best interest of that child”.
There are many ways our state government would save money. Please share your thoughts. Kids need both fit parents.