At what cost? For Baltimore’s poorest families, the child support system exacts a heavy price — and it’s hurting whole communities

By Yvonne Wenger. Baltimore Sun. March 5, 2020

Maryland’s child support system, intended to sustain children, is actually hurting some of the state’s neediest families — especially in Baltimore, an investigation by The Baltimore Sun has found.

Under the dysfunctional system, parents in struggling city neighborhoods owe tens of millions of dollars in back child support — a whopping $33 million in one Northwest Baltimore ZIP code alone.

This debt has accumulated under policies widely seen as short-sighted, if not nonsensical. It often is owed by men who cannot afford to pay what the government has decided is due.

 

In a city with high levels of poverty and crime, child support is yet another corrosive force in Baltimore, an undertow invisible to most. Advocates and researchers agree: The system’s policies are not only hurting fathers, but are tearing apart families and pulling down neighborhoods. And experts say the weight of that debt winds up encouraging men to join the underground economy.

 

”They [policies] are completely counterproductive to family stability, safety, economic self-sufficiency and communities — particularly poor communities,” says Joe Jones, the founder of the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore…..

 

 

 

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