Among all groups of single-parent families, those created by a birth to an unmarried woman have the least likelihood of receiving child support and the greatest risk of becoming dependent on welfare. Wisconsin data indicate that child support reform-specifically the immediate income assignment-is improving child support payment performance. But the modest increases in payments to nonmarital children will have little effect on their welfare recipiency. The fathers of these children lack the economic resources to aid their families much in the short term. However, cost effectiveness should not be the only criterion used in enforcing child support. It is important to send the message to all parent that they are expected to assume responsibility for the children they bear.

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