States are getting better at making deadbeat dads cough up child support, but not much of the cash is getting to the kids, the New York Times reports. The money's been going to repay back welfare benefits instead. Almost half of states keep all the money; most others pass along only $50 a month, even if they're collecting hundreds. The system is set up to prevent "double-dipping," but experts say it's counter-productive.
Studies show that when child support money collected goes to the children, absent fathers are less likely to dodge their responsibilities. A researcher called the states' approach "penny wise and pound foolish." Experiments in giving the child support collected to the needy families were deemed successful, but stopped after government budget cuts started to bite.