Los Angeles, CA--I discussed Los Angeles County's new campaign against '"deadbeat dads" on KABC AM 790 in Los Angeles on Thursday. The campaign is detailed in the Los Angeles Times" New program targets 'Top 10' deadbeat dads (3/19/08). The campaign is more or less the usual stuff -- stigmatizing noncustodial fathers, chest-thumping, vilifying so-called "deadbeat dads" with no recognition of the forces that often create child-support noncompliance, etc., etc. The list was announced by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and LA County Child Support Services Department Director Steven Golightly last Tuesday. KABC tried to set up a debate between Cooley and I but wasn't able to connect with him in time. During the interview on KABC, several people called in with their bad experiences with child support enforcement. Some of the points I made included: 1) According to the California Judicial Council, 80% of California child support debtors earn poverty level wages. 2) According to a January report by the California Department of Child Support Services, there are four primary factors creating child support arrearages in California: "high child support orders established for low-income obligors'; "a limited number of child support orders adjusted downward"; "establishment of retroactive child support orders'; and "accrual of 10 percent interest on child support debt.' Given this, it's very hard to see how Cooley and Golightly can justify this punitive approach. 3) Over a quarter of California's child support arrears is interest. 4) Child support enforcement is modeling the last on the FBI's fabled "10 Most Wanted" list. During one of the newest telecasts, a child support enforcement official held up the FBI's Most Wanted list and there was a picture near the top of Osama bin Laden. I guess they want us to draw parallels between "deadbeat dads" and terrorists. I can't remember whether I said it during the broadcast are not, but I will give Cooley and Golightly a little credit for the following--they did explain during their press conference that some of the "deadbeats' they"re pursuing may be able to use California"s Compromise of Arrears Program. COAP allows some obligors to settle their artificially-inflated paper debts to the state for realistic amounts. I've discussed COAP before--it's another good project that former California legislator Rod Wright and Michael Robinson of the California Alliance for Families and Children helped create.
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