Executive Summary

Child Support Enforcement Update

The Bureau for Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) is the state agency designated by the state of West Virginia to provide services federally mandated in Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. The Bureau reports directly to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources. The Bureau has four primary functions: 1) establish paternity; 2) locate absent parents; 3) establish child support orders; and 4) enforce support orders through collecting and distributing child support obligations.

The Legislative Auditor's Office conducted a preliminary performance review of the BCSE in 1997. The original audit examined only the function of enforcing child support obligations. The primary finding was that inaccurate financial data were present in nearly one-third of the agency's cases with court orders to enforce. These errors led to incorrect enforcement actions such as collecting the wrong amount from non-custodial parents, and distributing the wrong amount to custodial parents. In these cases, the agency must make adjustments to the financial information. Although the agency has reported significant improvement in the adjustment rate, the way in which it has been reported is misleading. This update of the agency's progress indicates that there has been only marginal improvement in reducing the adjustment rate.

In this update, the following categories are used to describe the degree of compliance of the Bureau with the 1997 recommendations.