Fresh Start is an arrears forgiveness program that Child Support Services Division (CSSD) offers to select non-custodial parents (NCPs). Fresh Start allows for a portion of a non-custodial parent’s TANF arrears to be forgiven in return for successfully making consecutive timely payments on the current support obligation or making a lump sum payment towards arrears.
What are TANF Arrears?
TANF arrears are past due monies owed to the District of Columbia for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and/or Medicaid benefits awarded to custodial parents or relatives who have low-incomes and are caring for children.
How Does It Work?
CSSD invites select NCP’s to participate in the Fresh Start Program. These NCP’s will receive an invitation letter from CSSD.
- At least $1,000 in TANF arrears
- No voluntary payment received in at least 12 months
- Previous enforcement efforts have been unsuccessful
- Failure to pay support not due to bad faith, i.e., willful disregard of court order, full-time employment
- Valid address for NCP & CP
- IV-D local cases & IV-D initiating interstate cases (with TANF arrears)
How It Works
NCP will enter an agreement to make a certain number of full, timely payments towards past due arrears or current support in return for CSSD forgiving a certain percentage of TANF arrears; or NCP will enter an agreement to make a lump sum payment towards past due arrears in return for CSSD forgiving a certain percentage of TANF arrears.
If the NCP cannot complete a particular payment plan due to unforeseen unemployment, CSSD may grant a forgiveness of the amount paid thus far. For example, under an 18-month plan, if the NCP has completed 6 months, he/she may receive the percentage based on a 6-month plan.
I have more than one child support case. Will the amount of TANF arrears from each of my cases be included?
Yes. The total amount of TANF arrears owed will be calculated from all of an NCP’s cases. All cases will be eligible for Fresh Start.
I just returned home from prison and I could not pay support while I was incarcerated. Can I participate in Fresh Start?
Yes. If you were incarcerated for any time during the 3-year period that your TANF arrears accrued, you are automatically eligible for Fresh Start.
The only way to enroll in Fresh Start is by responding to the introductory letter that you receive from CSSD. Walk-in customers will need to make an appointment with the CSSD Enforcement Unit to discuss entry into the program and eligibility criteria.
If you have questions concerning the Fresh Start Program, please contact the Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Services Division, Enforcement Unit at (202) 724-2316 or the First Response Unit, Customer Service Team at (202) 442-9900.