TOPEKA – Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore is proud to announce a program designed to help parents pay down their child support debt and save for their children’s higher education at the same time. The Child Support Savings Initiative (CSSI) is a joint effort between DCF and the State Treasurer’s office.
“The program is a win-win-win,” Secretary Gilmore said. “The non-custodial parent who owes child support will have arrears reduced, the parent who has custody of the child will have the money he/she is owed and the child will know that money is there available when it’s time to start college or a technical program.”
According to Assistant Professor William Elliott, of the University of Kansas, a child who has designated school savings from $1 to $499 is nearly five times more likely to graduate from college than a child with no savings account.
Non-custodial parents who owe back child support may owe debt both to the custodial parent and the state (if the custodial parent is receiving assistance). The non-custodial parent with debt now has the opportunity to pay $25 to open a CSSI 529 account and for every $1 paid into that account, the state will forgive $2 of state-owed debt. The individual will still be required to meet his/her monthly obligation to the custodial parent. The accounts are in the State’s name so that neither parent can withdraw funds. Funds may be used toward any college, university, community college or technical college that is accredited to receive financial aid.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has expressed interest in the CSSI program and has granted $600,000 to further incentivize parents to invest in their children’s future. For every dollar invested in the 529 accounts, the Kellogg Foundation will match that amount up to $500 per child. The Kellogg Foundation funds will go to the parent with custody to pay down the non-custodial parent’s debt owed to the custodial parent. Those eligible for this portion of the program, will be contacted by mail.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has also granted funds to the program. $50,000 will be used for a statewide ad campaign to promote the program. Television ads will be aired in early August. Online ads will begin posting this week. DCF will also work with the Kansas Department of Education and its community partners to spread the word about this effort.
Studies show that not only are child-support education savings accounts helpful for paying for school, but they also help promote a positive relationship between children and the non-custodial parent.
“Parents are more likely to be invested in their children’s lives when they are financially invested in them,” Elliott said.
For additional information about the Kansas Child Support Savings Initiative, visit www.dcf.ks.gov/services/CSS/Pages/529.aspx or call Child Support Services at 888-632-7758. Photos of the booklets currently being mailed to qualifying individuals are below.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit http://www.wkkf.org