Ohio Moves to Separate Children from Fathers by Defunding Fatherhood Program

Since founding this organization in 2007, I’ve always maintained that Ohio’s highly abusive (and as alleged  in this recently filed lawsuit;  fraudulent and wrongfully collected) ‘child support’ collections efforts aren’t effected “in the best interests of the children” as the State falsely purports. Rather, I’ve argued time and again, and with evidentiary support for my position, that such was and is done only out of the Ohio’s best financial interests. Said interests are achieved at the emotional expense and on the backs of the children from Ohio’s many broken families.

Remember, Ohio has steadfastly maintained for more than a decade that they aggressively pursue those who are behind  in their child support obligations out of “the best interests of the children.” This includes those loving fathers who through no fault of their own, and for reasons such as unemployment, hospitalization cancer, heart attack etc couldn’t meet said obligation and despite wanting very badly to do so.

Ohio’s response to those good and loving fathers? The State suspended their driver’s licenses and thereby prevented those dads from driving to see their children. It suspended their professional licenses, so those dads (and noncustodial moms) who were truck drivers, attorneys, nurses, doctors, professional surveyors, professional engineers, postal carriers, and teachers couldn’t work. How does one meet their support obligation when their ability to work depends on the very license that was suspended? Or, how do you work, when you’re prohibited by the State from driving to work?

In some cases, Ohio incarcerated some dads to “punish them” and teach them to pay their child support. So the State, takes away their ability to drive to work by suspending drivers licenses. For those who could overcome that barrier by walking, riding a bike or taking the bus to work, Ohio also suspended their State mandated license that’s required for them to legally work, and so that they can’t work. Lastly, some are then indicted and subsequently convicted and incarcerated for Felony Criminal Nonsupport of a Minor Child.

For those professional workers who’s career requires their criminal history that’s free from felony charges and or convictions as a condition of employment, they’ll never work again in that field, ever. Additionally, and after they’re incarcerated and under Ohio Law, their children are forbidden from visiting them in jail because they’re the victim of his crime. Really? How exactly does this and what’s said in the prior two paragraphs in anyway benefit the children involved? Simply because it’s said to, and has been so for more than two decades by the State of Ohio,  that such is done “only in the best interests of the children?”

I’ve deconstructed that lie time and again with substantiating facts, and will do so again now, but with additional rebuttals I’ve not used in the past. I personally understand the depth and magnitude of the great lengths Ohio has gone to in its efforts to promote its false propaganda in order to hide its child support profiteering from the public. The most significant and heart-wrenching method was also that which was not coincidentally most effective; demonize all child support paying fathers.

That was done through televised “deadbeat dad” roundups. Imagine the horror of a young child as they watched their own innocent father get arrested and taken away by police on television, or seeing their father on billboards or pizza boxes. Make no mistake, there’s nothing about that where anyone can logically claim that such is good for any child. Using common sense, how can anyone arrive at a conclusion other than the one whereby they think to themselves, “that’s not right”, and therefore acknowledge that it’s indeed harmful to those children who see their fathers demonized in such manners?

In reference to my earlier promise to produce more facts that in my opinion, unequivocally substantiates my claim that Ohio falsely claims to be acting “in the best interest of the children” in effecting their child support collections efforts , please carefully consider the remainder of what’s written herein.

First, the “best interest of the child” is mutually exclusive to the Ohio’s best financial interest, as the later cannot be achieved without harming the former. That’s because the two are diametrically opposed as explained in the forthcoming.

The following is a well known fact that’s both widely and publicly acknowledged by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS), the Ohio CSEA Directors’ Association (OCDA) and the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA);
Ohio (as do all states) literally earns a profit from EVERY child support dollar that’s collected by the 88 county Child Support Enforcement Agencies (CSEAs).

Said profit is earned by two things; one is through the 2% processing fee (aka poundage fee) that the obligor (aka child support paying non-custodial parent) must pay to the CSEA for the privilege of being required by law to pay their “child support” obligation through a CSEA. Understand that such is done for a very good reason as it lays the foundation for maximizing the profit the State earns through method number two which is also the most lucrative; the annual “Federal Incentive Match” that the NCSEA is so desperately trying to save here as it’s without doubt, their very golden goose.

The Federal Incentive Match is paid by you, the taxpayer, through your Social Security payroll tax. Yet another reason Social Security is insolvent. I say that, because there exists no trust fund where said funds are held. If you disagree with that, then please comment here and post the account number of it to refute my claim.

Additionally, the amount of those annual Federal matching dollars is directly proportional to the total annual amount of Ohio’s statewide child support collections. Said otherwise, the more total support dollars Ohio collects statewide on an annual basis, the more they will earn in profits through their Federal matching contribution. Put simply, the more they collect, the more they earn in federally funded (by you the taxpayer) profits. You must understand that to understand what follows.

Putting all of their propaganda and euphemisms aside, there exists only one way for Ohio to maximize its annual statewide child support collections, and that’s to mine the pockets of more and non-custodial parents (obligors) by “squeezing them” through all means be they legal or otherwise. I would like to add that the aforementioned civil action is a testament to that as the nature of that complaint is that Ohio wrongfully over-collected more than 100 million dollars in child support that many obligors weren’t required to pay. Even worse, is that Ohio charged those same obligors a 2% processing  fee to essentially steal money they were never entitled too. Why would Ohio do that? I would hope your honestly answering that question for yourself by now.

How can Ohio “squeeze” non-custodial parents without the public taking notice? By spreading false propaganda that includes demonizing all child support paying parents with campaigns such as televised “Deadbeat Dad” roundups, wanted posters, wanted billboards, pizza boxes etc.

Additionally, by waging the aforementioned propaganda war against the many innocents who lost their jobs through no fault of their own or were hospitalized, sick, paralyzed and or on disability and therefore couldn’t (but wanted to) pay their support obligation. Such actions were (and still are) undertaken while simultaneously falsely claiming to be doing the same only in the “best interests of the children.” In doing that, the public was (and is) deceived and therefore cheered it on and supported every hateful bit of all of it. Additionally, the media, and without question, fed (and continues to)  the propaganda to the public and presented it as  factual.

Ohio continues to demonize everyone who fell behind, and regardless of their unintended reasons for doing so. Moreover, the public and the press all gleefully and proudly continue to play along for the most part, however due to the efforts of many organizations, that’s starting to change.

So why does Ohio suspend professional licenses and drivers licenses of those who are working, or seeking work, and trying to meet their obligation? It’s simple, money, and lots more of it.

Now, remember that we’re told by the State that suspending said licenses (and thereby preventing noncustodial fathers from seeing their children in some cases) is “in the best interests of the children.” Aside from the fact that it’s certainly not, as anyone with any common sense can deduce, there’s a truthful and more sinister reason why that’s done. It’s called a profit. Those same people have to pay large amounts of money to the State in order to reinstate those suspended licenses.

Obviously, preventing a father from driving so his children can see him, or preventing him from working so he can financially support them is in no way in the best interests of the children. It’s quite to the contrary ,and is in fact in Ohio’s best financial interests which can only be achieved at the emotional expense of the children. How is that you ask? Actively preventing children from seeing their father by suspending his driver’s license is both child abuse as well as emotionally damaging. Who benefits from such, the children or the State of Ohio? Additionally, who has to suffer so that the State can benefit? The children. How does the State benefit? Through those suspended license reinstatement fees levied and collected. How do the children benefit from the same? They don’t, they suffer as a direct result of it.  How? Their fathers can’t drive to visit them, and he can’t work to provide financial support for them.

I offer you another example that proves the same. Why are those child support dollars paid over 18 years with canceled checks to prove it deemed “gifts” and the obligor assigned an arrears (well in excess of $100,000 in some cases) at the stroke of a pen when a judge or CSEA official merely declares it’s so, and without the required supporting evidentiary facts in some cases? For a profit. How’s that “in the best interest of the children?” It’s not, they suffer. How so? When their dads go bankrupt, some become homeless, they can’t put food on the table, and they’re unable to provide for their children. Who benefits? The State. How? They profit. At whose expense? The children, the father, and the new family that father is also supporting.

As I said earlier the State’s financial interests and the children’s best interests are both mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed. The children must suffer in order for the State to profit.

To further drive that point home, consider that there exists under Ohio’s statutes the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood that was established in 1998 to advance Fatherhood in the State if Ohio. Truth be told, I personally consider some of what the Fatherhood Commission promotes to be an affront to all fathers. For instance “building the parenting skills of fathers” and “reconcile fathers with their families.”

Both of those in my humble opinion are based on two very insulting assumptions about fathers as a whole; 1. Fathers can’t parent by nature and therefore must be told how to do so, and 2. Fathers are purposefully and willfully absent from their children’s lives and that’s the very wholesale lie that’s been pandered by the State for more than a decade to demonize all fathers. Most fathers who are separated from their children are so because the courts have ordered it through “visitation” schedules. Additionally, and quite tragically, there are many mothers who won’t allow a father to visit his children.

If you scroll to the last sentence of the last paragraph titled Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Grants on the US Department Health and Human Services website it reads,

“The $75 million in Responsible Fatherhood funds may be used for fatherhood activities intended to promote or sustain marriage, responsible parenting, economic stability, and media campaigns that reach families with important messages about responsible fatherhood.

“That $75 million is half of what’s allocated as explained in the first line of that same paragraph where it states,

“The FY 2012 budget proposes continued funding of $150 million to support Healthy Marriages and Responsible Fatherhood to be administered by HHS’ Office of Family Assistance within the Administration for Children and Families. These funds will be split equally among Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood activities.

The chart on this page shows that expenditures (total “enforcement” dollars) spent by the Federal Government to enforce child support orders in 2010 was $5.77 billion dollars. As shown above, the amount of expenditures to reconnect fathers with their children and “teach fathers how to parent” is a paltry $75 million dollars. Stated otherwise it’s a 50:1 ratio when comparing the amount spent on support enforcement versus that spent on reconnecting fathers with their children.

Keep in mind that the $75 million being spent is done so by lecturing fathers, or in my opinion, degrading them as most fathers didn’t choose to be separated from their children. They’re separated through force, and under the threat of arrest and contempt in some cases by the courts whereby on a national level 84% of mothers are awarded sole custody of the children by the courts, while the father is turned into a paying visitor to them.

When one considers that the number one reason children grow up without a father in their lives is because of the court-ordered separation of a father from his children, or stated otherwise, court-ordered father absenteeism, then one can begin to understand how I consider that  $75 million spent on Fatherhood programs is in some cases an insult to those dads who didn’t ask to be, nor did they ever want to be, separated from their children.

So where does the State of Ohio factor into this equation? The answer can be found right here. If Ohio were truly concerned about the “best interest of the children” would they really defund the only program in the state that aims to reconnect fathers with their children? Of course not; they’d find other areas to make cuts such as in child support enforcement.

Why is the State choosing to defund the only Fatherhood program of which one purpose is to reconnect children with their fathers instead of cutting child support enforcement by the same amount, which would in turn save the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood instead of eliminating its existence? One word; profit.

Given that the State profits off of each and every child support dollar that’s collected, the last thing Ohio will do it cut back on its enforcement program because not only does it pay, it pays dearly. It’s also in the credit column in the same ledger where the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood is in the debit column.  So what’s juxtaposed there is a profit versus a “loss,” and fathers and their children must lose in order for the State of Ohio to profit off of their misery.

As shown here at the very bottom in Table F titled “Incentive Pool Payment, FY 2000-2010″ the total incentive match for fiscal year 2010 is $504,000,000. And that pool is the “prize” that Ohio and every state chases each year. Additionally, the metrics that define “who wins how much” is all based on enforcement measures only. The criteria for the Federal Incentive Match can only be met through punitive measures.  So $504,000,000 is awarded to those who effect the most profitable punitive measures against fathers, while a mere $75,000,000 is awarded under the auspices of those trying to help fathers. We musn’t forget that in total, there’s $5.77 billion spent to punish fathers.

Consider that the States through the courts forcefully separate single fathers from their children via full custody awards to mothers in 84% of all contested custody cases nationwide. The courts will sometimes order “visitation” schedules (child support is always awarded and without regard to visitation rights) where a father is given permission to see his children.

Grant it, the amount of time he’s allowed to spend with them in many cases is next to nothing. With that in mind, consider that other fathers (and for no good or justifiable reason) are not allowed to see or contact their children, and if he violates that order, he’s subject to contempt, fines, arrest and finally, incarceration. That’s so, even if he only tries to contact them.

It’s that right there; lecturing fathers about “responsible fatherhood” (which is one goal of “responsible fatherhood programs”) that’s reeks of contemptuous hypocrisy of the highest order. How is that you ask? It is so because the majority of “absent fathers” have been ordered by the courts to either not have any contact with their children, or to have little contact with them. A father who has been granted a visitation schedule of every other weekend or a mere few hours per month is for the most part, an absent father, but not by his choice.

Add to the mix those custodial mothers who willfully and hatefully prevent a father from seeing his children (and I do recognize that some custodial fathers do the same and it’s just as inexcusable) and one can easily see that it’s the courts, through the enforcement of very anti-father state statutes, that have caused most of the father absenteeism that’s so prevalent today.

From the preceding, one can logically conclude that the State and Federal Governments, as well as the courts, care next to nothing about that father and child bond, or father and child friendly policies such as reconnecting children with the fathers they so dearly miss. Nor do they care anything about the fact that those fathers that said governments and courts sanctimoniously lecture about “responsible fatherhood” are in fact the very same who are also the victims of court-ordered father absenteeism.

Tony Fantetti
Ohio Council for Fathers Rights
Email: tony.fantetti(at)ocffr(dot)org

This entry was posted in Fathers Rights Advocates Organizations and Advocacy, Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA), Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS), The State of Ohio, This is in the "Best Interests of the Children?", Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ohio Moves to Separate Children from Fathers by Defunding Fatherhood Program

  1. nukeyda says:

    I’m so glad you made this. I hope the people that need to see will ad see things need to change will do something and fast to help our fathers, and not beat them for not being able to pay support. But do be there in their child’s life.