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This Article examines the effectiveness with which the District of Columbia has linked welfare reform and child support collection. Part I discusses the ways in which the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation significantly altered federal and state child support systems. Part II shifts the discussion from the national arena to the District of Columbia and explores legislative, executive, and judicial responses to child support enforcement in the wake of federal welfare reform.

Part III recommends ways in which the District of Columbia can improve its enforcement system and suggests that it is not enough to simply establish child support orders; state agencies and courts must ensure that orders provide adequate support. Specifically, this section argues that in order to improve both the quality and quantity of child support collection in the District of Columbia, there must be improvement in at least six areas: (1) investigation and location; (2) judicial oversight; (3) staffing in the government child support agency; (4) incentives for parents and penalties for noncompliance; (5) distribution; and (6) interstate cooperation. Given the budgetary pressures confronting the D.C. government, it may not be possible to find the resources necessary to implement these changes immediately for all families. Therefore, in terms of the priority of needed improvements, Part III argues that the D.C. government should make special efforts to serve those families who are reaching lifetime limits for receipt of TANF as well as those families who have recently left the TANF program.

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