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Health and Human Services: oei-06-98-00050

Health and Human Services: oei-06-98-00050

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Published by: HHS on Jan 30, 2008
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Department of Health and Human Services
OFFICE OFINSPECTOR GENERAL
JUNE GIBBS BROWNInspector General
APRIL 2000OEI-06-98-00050
PATERNITY ESTABLISHMENT
Administrative and Judicial Methods
 
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
The mission of the Office of Inspector General (OIG), as mandated by Public Law 95-452, is toprotect the integrity of the Department of Health and Human Services programs as well as thehealth and welfare of beneficiaries served by them. This statutory mission is carried out through anationwide program of audits, investigations, inspections, sanctions, and fraud alerts. TheInspector General informs the Secretary of program and management problems and recommendslegislative, regulatory, and operational approaches to correct them.
Office of Evaluation and Inspections
The Office of Evaluation and Inspections (OEI) is one of several components of the Office of Inspector General. It conducts short-term management and program evaluations (calledinspections) that focus on issues of concern to the Department, the Congress, and the public. Theinspection reports provide findings and recommendations on the efficiency, vulnerability, andeffectiveness of departmental programs.OEI's Region VI prepared this report under the direction of Chester B. Slaughter, RegionalInspector General and Judith V. Tyler, Deputy Regional Inspector General.Principal OEI staff included:
DALLAS
Blaine Collins,
 Lead Analyst 
Ruth Ann Dorrill,
Project Leader 
Marnette Robertson
Clark Thomas, Ph.D.
Nancy Watts
Lisa White
FIELD OFFICES
Lucille CopVincent GreiberIanna KachorisThomas PurvisGraham Rawsthorn
HEADQUARTERS
Alan Levine,
Program Specialist 
Joan Richardson,
Program Specialist 
Linda Hall
To obtain copies of this report, please call the Dallas Regional Office at 214-767-3310.
Reports are also available on the World Wide Web at our home page address:http://www.dhhs.gov/progorg/oei
 
E X E C U T I V E S U M M A R Y
PURPOSE
This report describes administrative and judicial methods of paternity establishment employed byState child support agencies, and discusses the perceptions of key staff who have experience withthese procedures.
BACKGROUND
Federal regulation requires States to design administrative processes in the hope that they wouldremove the disposition of many paternity actions from the traditional court-based adjudicationapproach. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has provided both guidanceand funding specifically related to expediting paternity establishment procedures, and States haveworked to streamline their court processes and to make available fully administrative methods of establishing paternity. This report reviews typical State approaches for establishing paternitythrough primarily administrative or judicial methods, as well as combinations of the two. Itdescribes key features of State paternity establishment methods and also provides staff perceptions of their advantages and disadvantages. Our data comes from mail surveys of all Statechild support agencies, as well as information from local offices in six focus States, including 99mail surveys and 48 staff interviews. We did not attempt to validate the timeliness andeffectiveness of the paternity establishment methods States employ. For this executive summary,we highlight only selected overall observations about State methods, reserving analysis anddetailed description of these methods for the body of the text.
FINDINGS
States Have Not Yet Progressed as Far as Might be Expected in Implementing Fully Administrative Paternity Establishment Methods.
Despite Federal encouragement and inherent advantages to using administrative methods, manyStates still have fairly significant court involvement in their paternity establishment practices. AllState systems require some collaboration between child support agency and State courts. Thelevel of court involvement varies from States which use the courts only for the most difficult of contested paternity cases, to States which require routine judicial approval for all paternityestablishments. We expected child support agency respondents to report a strong preference forfully administrative methods, believing they would desire greater control of the paternityestablishment process and would have experienced delays and other problems when dealing withthe courts. Although many State and local child support respondents did report such frustrations,others told us that they were more comfortable with systems that still employed limited courtinvolvement. Taken as a whole, States do appear to be increasing administrative responsibilitywhen practical and when State law allows, as well as streamlining remaining court procedures.Although all States are unique in their balance between administrative and judicial practices, wefound it useful in our analysis to classify States as primarily relying on one or the other approach.i

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