past event
Family Finances

The Payback Problem: Why Child Support Does Not Go Where It’s Needed Most

As we’ve learned in our EPIC Consumer Debt work, fines and fees can deplete the financial security of millions of Americans. This upcoming event highlights the consequential, yet lesser known, issue of requiring low-income parents to pay back public assistance through their child support payments.

When millions of low-income parents make child support payments, the majority of their payments do not go to their children. Instead, most of their payments go to reimburse the government for the cost of public assistance for the mother and child. In California, 70% of outstanding child support debt is owed to the government, not children. The majority of public assistance payback debt in California is owed by parents earning under $10,000. California also charges 10% interest on public assistance payback debt. Requiring parents to pay back public assistance takes money from low-income children, sets low-income parents up to fail, and saddles families with growing debt that they cannot pay.  

In California, advocates across the state have come together to call for reforms. States like Colorado and New Jersey have enacted reforms that other states can learn from.  Join Aspen FSP on April 24th for a conversation about the payback problem and solutions advancing in California and throughout the nation.  

The event will feature a panel discussion moderated by Anne Stuhldreher, Director of the San Francisco Financial Justice Project and Aspen Financial Security Program Senior Fellow. Anne is a coauthor of The Payback Problem: How Taking Parents’ Child Support Payments to Pay Back the Cost of Public Assistance Harms California Low-Income Children & Families and recently authored an op-ed about The Payback Problem in The Los Angeles Times.  Reception to begin at 5:00 pm.

Please contact Dyvonne Body at if you have any questions.

Featured Panelists: 

  • Larry Desbien, Director, The Colorado Division of Child Support Services
  • Peter Edelman, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center (Bio)
  • Heather Hahn, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute (Bio)   
  • Nikki Thompson, Senior Policy Associate, Job Opportunities Task Force of Maryland (Bio)
  • Tony Vinson, Recruitment and Intake Specialist, DC Central Kitchen
  • Vicki Turetsky, Former Commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Anne Stuhldreher (Moderator), Senior Fellow, The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program (Bio)





Event information
Wed Apr 24, 2019
3:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
The Aspen Institute
2300 N St NW Suite 7th Floor (Corner of 24th and N)
Washington, DC