Obama’s Budget Orders States to Promote Parental Engagement in Children’s Lives

By Susan Jones | April 12, 2013 | 5:15 AM EDT

President Obama’s FY 2014 budget requests $448 million over ten years to support increased child visitation services. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Buried deep in President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget is a new mandate requiring the states to include parental visitation arrangements in child support orders, the same way custody arrangements are typically settled in divorce cases.

The goal is to give noncustodial parents more time with the children who do not live with them.

"Recognizing that healthy families need more than just financial support alone, the proposal requires states to include parenting time provisions in initial child support orders," says the budget justification for the Department of Health and Human Services. ("Parenting time" is government-speak for "visitation.")

The HHS budget requests $448 million over ten years to support increased visitation services.

The taxpayer money will go to states that choose to include visitation in initial child support orders beginning in FY 2014. All 50 states and the District of Columbia "are required" to include “parenting time responsibilities” in all new child support orders beginning in FY 2019.

"This phase-in approach will allow some states to begin immediately and will provide an opportunity for all states to learn from the lessons of 'early adopters,'” the budget justification for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families says on page 255.

The proposal also would encourage states to undertake activities that support parents’ access to their children – “while implementing domestic violence safeguards, which are a critical component of this new state responsibility.” The activities and safeguards are not described.

"These services will not only improve parent-child relationships and outcomes for children, but they will also result in improved (child support) collections. Research shows that when fathers are engaged in the lives of their children, they are more likely to meet their financial obligations. This creates a double win for children — an engaged parent and financial security,” the budget justification says.