Is Non-Payment of Child Support, Child Abuse?

22k in arrears in a Texas case…

This question is sure to raise eyebrows and start arguments but let’s take a minute to look at the FACTS.  With child support arrears in America at an astounding 116, 360,701.209.00 BILLION dollars nationally according the Office of Child Support Enforcement, this is something that requires a closer look.

WebMD.com summarizes it as: “child abuse means doing something that hurts a child. Neglect means not giving or doing something that a child needs.”  The article goes on to further break down abuse into categories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Then goes on to add that “Neglect happens when a child does not get shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care or protection that he or she needs. Child neglect is just as serious as abuse and is more common.”

Federal law as defined by CAPTA 2010, defines child abuse as: “Any recent act or FAILURE to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or FAILURE to act that which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

Legal Dictionary defines child abuse as: “Physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment, or neglect of a child”

The vision of the Administration of Children and Family’s is; “Children, youth, families, individuals and communities who are resilient, safe, healthy and economically secure” The ACF oversees the Office of Child Support Enforcement so is this vision being met?

over 20k in arrears…

We have over $116 Billion dollars on the books in unpaid child support on 11,020,324 cases across our great nation. Over the past 25 years the arrears owed has increased by almost 90 Billion dollars. So something is wrong, something is not working and we need to fix it.

In a previous article, http://momsfightback.org/money-weapon-using-child-support-tool-abuse/ ,I told the story of a mother, D. whose son played on an elite soccer team. As any parent knows, extracurricular activities don’t come cheap and D. placed the costs of her boy playing soccer on credit cards for over three years while trying to collect the court ordered child support from her ex husband. He did not pay and D. was unable to keep up and her son had to give up the team he had played on for 8 years. The boy became very depressed, starting getting in trouble at school and smoking…

“neglect means NOT GIVING OR DOING SOMETHING A CHILD NEEDS.”

Does a child ‘need’ to play soccer? You can debate that all day long, but this boy who now didn’t have a dad at home still had a positive male role model in his coach. This boy had friends who were all into the same thing– a sport that requires discipline, team work, responsibility, good healthy habits to play at an elite level– all very good things, we can agree. Not to mention the possibility of higher education as scholarships are involved with sports at this level….

“Failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.”

Unpaid child support was the DIRECT cause of this boy not being able to play soccer. Not being able to play soccer was the DIRECT cause of this child’s depression, acting out smoking.

In this same article I also told how in 2010 my own daughter needed surgery for an angioma on her face. She had been picked on mercilessly at school over this and the surgeon wanted to take it off on the first day of Christmas break so any bruising would be faded by the time school started back. I notified my soon to be ex husband and his attorney of the surgery and date. When I went by the outpatient center a few days prior to the surgery to fill out her paperwork I found out that he had canceled the insurance on the kids.

The next example from that article was from a mother in Utah. Her ex was made aware that one of their son’s was going to travel to California to perform at a special event with the school orchestra. He quit paying his child support and there was no way to pay for the trip.

Before you make a call on that one, think: Do you want to be the kid who could not afford to go? Do you think this boy was made fun of at school for suddenly not being able to go? Do you want it to be YOUR child who was the only child unable to participate?

Please re-read the definitions above of abuse vs neglect. What is your opinion on this? I would like to know in the comments.

183k owed in Wisconsin….

The Federal Office of Child Support is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and the ACF,  HHS has a very interesting article still available on their website that was published in 1989: A Partial Listing of Problems Facing American Children, Youth and Families.

This article gives those problems as:

  • Child Health
  • Adolescents in Trouble (drug use, teen pregnancy, runaways)
  • Child welfare
  • Lack of child care
  • Lack of early childhood education
  • Lack of Child Support and
  • Homelessness
  • This article goes on to cite a study done in 1986 by Bumpas that states: “Studies done show that 1 out of 2 female head families live below the poverty line and a significant factor in this impoverishment is failure to provide child support.”
  • Things have not changed that much since this study. In a 2012 study in the state of Texas the stats were 48% of single mothers and 17% of single fathers were living below the poverty line due to unpaid child support. And if you read the entire article the expenditures made on behalf of the Federal government to “attempt” to collect child support are astounding. I simply do not believe that in the United States of America we can not do a better job of enforcing court orders.

The ACES study available on CDC.gov shows the direct correlation between adverse childhood experiences and low life potential, risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions and early death…..  Childhood poverty or even financial strain is no laughing matter. A survey done by Moms Fight Back in Colorado listed in 2016 “financial strain” as top issue keeping Moms “up at night”.

9k owed in Michigan…

 

There is a church in my area that yearly does a back to school program to provide needed items for a successful start to the school year: new backpack, school supplies, new sneakers and a haircut. Every year the number of parents applying for this blessing increases, and the parents bringing kids to this event are not in pairs.

As a single mother, I can promise you that the only thing more stressful than August’s back to school, is December and holiday expenses. Paper and plastic only stretch so far…

So we have the facts– the latest Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support in 2016 shows an arrearage of 116,360.701,209.00 Billion dollars on 11,020,324 cases owed unpaid child support. Millions of children doing without needs and wants, experiencing lack and often worse. This is scientifically proven to lead to deleterious outcomes in life.

What is YOUR take? Abuse? Not abuse? Neglect or not? Please comment. 

27k owed in Florida…

What are we going to do about it? Make no mistake, whether you are a struggling single parent, a parent paying support, a grandparent chipping in for “extra’s” or a TAXPAYER with no children: this is everyone’s problem.

2018 is an election year for our Congress. I urge you to find your Representative and call for appointments, bring your arrears statements along with your concerns. Ask your congress man or woman if they even READ the Report and looked at the tables showing these disgraceful figures? Let them know you are watching, expecting action, and you VOTE. I for one, am tired of empty words out of Washington. I plan to vote for the candidates who will fight for our children.

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

 

All arrears statements shown were previously posted online and used with permission of the custodial parent. 

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/partial-listing-problems-facing-american-children-youth-and-families#childsupport

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

The True Cost of Unpaid Child Support

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/child-maltreatment-topic-overview#1

 

 

 

National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month, and as it draws to a close this week I couldn’t help noticing that recovery from nature took center stage this past month. At least in my neck of the woods!  But I would still like to share with you some of the people and places who make recovery great!   

We all have something we need help overcoming, and what ever yours is: drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, codependency, food…there is someone out there who has been through it as well,and is willing to share their experience, strength and hope with you.

Find them online at https://iloverecovery.com/

This amazing website is full of podcasts, art, music, articles by professionals as well as laypeople who have been there and done it. There is something for everyone, every need, at this wonderful website. See you there!

One of the most prolific authors I know is Reverend Kevin Coughlin. Rev. Kevin is the co-founder and former Director of New Beginning Ministries, a residential recovery program. He is also a nationally recognized recovery coach with a huge library of material available to you at his website http://www.revkevsrecoveryworld.com/.  Rev. Kevin also has an amazing array of recovery books and materials he has written including books, journals and workbooks for professional recovery coaches. One of my favorites, as a nurse, and as a mother of teens is 

This excellent book provides parents and anyone dealing with kids the knowledge to recognize danger signs and intervene. Please check it out along with Kevin’s amazing library of helpful titles.

Keeping kids safe from the living death of addiction is a passion of mine. Education and early intervention is the key and Melanie Solomon, author of “AA-Not the Only Way. Your one stop Resource guide to 12-step Alternatives”, has an excellent article I urge you to bookmark and pass on to any parents with questions. http://addictionblog.org/family/how-to-help-your-child-who-is-struggling-with-an-alcohol-or-drug-problem/

Family members suffer too, addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. But it does not have to be.  The journey can be an opportunity for growth if you let it. If you love someone with mental health or addiction issues I encourage you to reach out for recovery too. 

Here are some links that may help you if you find yourself searching for recovery options and help.

http://www.aa.org/

https://al-anon.org/

https://www.recoverymonth.gov/

Let’s let recovery be more than a month, let it be a life…

 

 

 

Nourish, an interview with Amber Hunter

Dictionary.com defines “nourish” as 1. sustain with food or nutrient: supply with what is necessary for life, health and growth. 2. To cherish, foster, keep alive, ect… 3. To strengthen, build up, promote.

Nourish is also a meal planning service owned and operated by Amber Hunter of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Amber’s journey to the kitchens of the Emerald Coast started in central Mississippi with her Grandmother Vera. Grandma Vera had no interest in TV or play, but she was very interested in teaching her beloved granddaughter life skills and cooking was on top of that list. “Cooking IS a life skill, and one that seems to be falling by the wayside in these days of busyness.” States Amber. She recalls garden fresh vegetables and shelling peas for hours with her grandmother. Amber spent most of her childhood in Vera’s kitchen while her mother worked long hours as a nurse. Amber was seven years old when Vera told her that the best thing she could do to help her mother, was to prepare a good meal for her to have when she got home after such hard work. Amber was sent home with an assignment to make her mom a fresh pan of cornbread. Young Amber mistakenly used flour instead of cornmeal and baked her mother a huge buttermilk biscuit!

Amber realized that not only could she cook, but mistakes in the kitchen were not always bad! Amber laughs and said, “We sliced it like a pie and added butter. It was delicious!”

Amber went on to follow her mother into nursing. While it appealed to the nurturing part of her soul, she often went home with work undone, worried about patients and then had to face her own young family and figure out what to feed them after a long day.

Amber says, ” my interest in nursing and functional medicine trained me to understand the connection between food and illness. I wanted to feed my family healthy and good meals. But as a working mom you often have to choose between time for that or your kids.”

Every working mom has experienced the food battle between the frozen chicken and the pizza delivery boy! From my personal experience, unless you are an Iron Chef in full command of Kitchen Stadium the frozen chicken does not stand a chance and the pizza boy wins this fight!

Amber started planning out her family’s menu and spent 2 hours “prepping” each Sunday evening. She would also get up at five am and cook a hot and healthy breakfast for her husband and sons. This was Amber’s quiet time and she said she felt Grandmother’s presence and Vera spoke into her heart the word, “nourish”. What if Amber could not only nourish her own family but others struggling as well?

Nourish Meal Planning Service was born.

Amber now consults with clients, plans menu’s to order, does the shopping, preps the food in your kitchen, stores everything you need in labeled containers. You end up with a spotless kitchen, no need for grocery runs or emergency take out and meals ready to go for the week.  As a nurse, Amber is skilled in tweaking recipes for cardiac, diabetic, gluten-free, and other special needs diets such as specific food allergies.

Q&A with Amber:

Alana: Amber, what is your favorite dish?

Amber: Oh I go through phases! I just got done with a Thai phase and now I am into Italian dishes. I am not afraid to try anything new. If I get a client request for something I have never done I will try it and if need be figure out how to adjust it for any restrictions.

Alana: Can you share a favorite recipe with us?

Amber: This is an easy working mom’s dish– Baked Chicken Fajita’s

Take 1 pound chicken, 1 red, 1 green bell pepper, 1 red onion, 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper to taste and a dash of chili powder– cut it all up, toss with olive oil and bake at 400 for 35 minutes. You can serve this in warm tortilla’s or for a gluten-free option use lettuce wraps.

Alana: Wow! I am going to have to try that one! Could you prepare in the morning and just toss it in the oven when you get home?

Amber: Sure, or you could even crock pot on low.

Alana: What is your favorite, must have, go to kitchen gadget or gizmo?

Amber: My Instant Pot!  I can’t live without it!

Alana: What is that?

Amber: It’s a combination crock pot and pressure cooker or steamer. What I love about it is that you can cook large items quickly and you do not sacrifice the integrity of the food. Especially meats.

 

Alana: Amber how does someone contact you to schedule services?

Amber: You can contact me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nourishmealplanning/

Or on my website http://nourishmealplanning.com/  If it’s easier for you to call, the phone number and business hours are listed there.

Alana: Amber one last question, what is the most important thing you feel you are giving your clients? Time saved, money saved or health?

Amber: None of that, although it is important. The relationships I have established with my clients nourishes us both, that is the most important thing of all. That is what I love.

 

 

I would like to credit Jackie Ward Images for the beautiful photo of Amber. Thank you Jackie!

This post also contains an affiliate link to Amazon to feature Amber’s favorite kitchen gadget, The Instant Pot.