A Tipping Point For Child Support Is Coming

November 12, 2014 John Polk

It’s been more than a decade since Malcolm Gladwell introduced us to the power of The Tipping Point. His best-selling book enlightened us to the moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, it tips, and spreads like wildfire. He discusses how a precisely targeted push can cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or even a drop in crime rate.

As Gladwell taught us, little things have the power to make a big difference and right now we’re at a tipping point when it comes to child support payments in the U.S. There are roughly 17 million children nationwide receiving child support from a non-custodial parent. Nearly $28 billion is distributed annually and the funds are crucial to the families and children receiving them for basic necessities like food, clothing and school supplies. Making sure these payments are received in a timely secure matter is a large responsibility for state agencies.

Enter Xerox, ExpertPay and our tipping point precipice. ExpertPay is a national pay site that provides employers with an online payment mechanism to submit court ordered child support payments withheld from an employees pay. ExpertPay provides flexibility, convenience, and security for remitters initiating electronic payments. Today, there are employers in 49 states plus D.C and Puerto Rico using ExpertPay. This accounts for approximately 8 percent of the electronically submitted child support payments in the U.S. And, we’re on the verge of this number growing to 20-30 percent nationally.

The reliance on Xerox and ExpertPay is so strong even at 8 percent usage that if it would shut down tomorrow, there would be national news coverage on all the major television networks and newspapers. No one else offers a service like this and if saturation grows to the 20-30 percent in our tipping point scenario, the dependency grows even higher. A fly-by-night company can’t handle this level of responsibility. It has to be run by a company with a strong track record and years of experience as an active participant in the child support enforcement community. A company that can’t fail. A company like Xerox.

Along with solutions like ExpertPay, we also have a partnership with MoneyGram that alleviates the increased challenges that arise when child support payments originate as cash. In fact, an estimated 10 percent of child support payments start out as cash – up to 25 million annually. Non-custodial parents in any state could potentially pay child support to a custodial parent in any of the 50 states – meaning trillions of different routes a payment could potentially take from origin to destination. With 38,000 outlets nationwide at popular retail locations like WalMart, CVS and Albertson’s, MoneyGram makes it easy and convenient for parents to fulfill child support requirements.

Through solutions like ExpertPay and MoneyGram, Xerox is helping to ensure millions of children receive deserved support from both parents. The specific tipping point that makes these solutions even more prevalent is still in question. After all, Gladwell states often small seemingly unimportant things can turn an idea or invention into a world-changing cultural phenomenon. Will it be something small like when Gladwell discovered a few kids in Manhattan wearing Hush Puppies shoes that caused a fashion trend taking shoe sales from 30,000 to 430,000 in one year’s time? Whatever the reason or cause for the shift, we’re prepped and ready to handle the responsibility.

The pending tipping point of child support payments is just one of the many changes on the horizon. In future blog posts I’ll cover things like how to reinvent a system that is meeting its nearly 50 percent participation goals by making the program even more inclusive.


About the Author

John Polk

Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Xerox Child Support Solutions

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