Food stamp programs in Massachusetts and around the country help almost 40 million people to meet their nutritional needs, and many of the most vulnerable recipients are children. A debate is currently underway about rules that would deny access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to custodial and noncustodial parents who do not cooperate with agencies that administer and enforce child support. The issue is an important one because more than a third of the American children who live with only one parent live in conditions of poverty.
Parents in Massachusetts who fall behind on child support payments could face wage garnishment at some point. Wage garnishment arises from a court order that seizes a portion of wages until debts have been fully paid off. A study that analyzed the anonymous pay data of 12 million workers nationwide in 2016 determined that wage garnishment affected 7 percent of workers. The burden of wage garnishment falls most heavily on men who comprise nearly three-quarters of those who have money taken from their paychecks.