Formula Grants

Title IV-D – Child Support and Establishment of Paternity


Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (Title IV-D) establishes a state-federal partnership to provide child support services. States must have a single statewide agency that receives the federal funding and administers the program. States are permitted to fund local jurisdictions, enter cooperative agreements with others like law enforcement or state courts to provide IV-D child support services. A Title IV-D case is one in which a parent is either now or may eventually receive services under Title IV-D, such as a parent who receives TANF, Medicaid, or foster care payments.

Match Requirements

Under Title IV-D, the federal government reimburses states $2 for every $3 the state spends on eligible program costs for providing child support services.

Potential Uses

In December 2016, OCSE published the Final Rule: Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Enforcement Programs. This final rule made changes to strengthen the child support enforcement program and update practices to increase regular, on-time payments to families, to increase the number of noncustodial parents supporting their children, and to improve program operations. One of those changes clarifies that states can use Title IV-D funding for self-help services. Background for the rule’s language regarding pro se services can be found in this OCSE factsheet about Access to Justice Innovations: “Providing information to pro se parents helps ensure that parents understand the child support process, know what to expect in the child support process, and provide accurate financial information.”


In final rule, 45 C.F.R. 304.20 (b) (3) (vi), HHS clarifies that funds can be used for “services to increase pro se access to adjudicative and alternative dispute resolution processes in IV–D cases related to providing child support services.” The rule makes clear in 45 C.F.R. 304.21(a), that these pro se services are eligible for Federal financial participation (FFP), or in other words, federal reimbursement. Self-help services can also include educational and outreach activities.


To be eligible for Title IV-D reimbursement, self-help services––with the exception of allowable education and outreach costs––must be for paternity establishment and child support. This can include assistance with paternity acknowledgement forms, providing information to litigants about relevant court procedures, help with child support order establishment and modifications when circumstances change affecting amounts that should be paid, enforcement processes, or assisting with domestic violence protection orders if the order is necessary to safely obtain child support.



Administering Federal Agency

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families (ACF), Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)

Find Your State/Local Administrator

To find the agency in your state that handles child support and paternity establishment, this National Conference of State Legislatures resource lists all the entities that oversee child support in states as well as which committees in the state legislature pass new policies. Once that entity is identified, each website should list an executive director and staff. HHS OCSE also has a map with state contacts.

Amount of Available Funding

Title IV-D is a federal-state matching grant program under which states must spend money in order to receive federal funding. The federal reimbursement is “open ended,” in that there is no ceiling on the federal government’s match of state expenditures. In addition to matching funds, states receive child support enforcement incentive payments from the federal government.

More Information

To find examples of courts and/or their justice partners receiving these funds, click on the PDF.

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