|Recovering the Cost of Foster Care
Foster Care Recovery Unit
What You Need to Know About Paying Child Support While Your Child is in Foster Care
This page contains answers to frequently asked questions about paying child support while your child is in foster care in Iowa. The answers provided are necessarily general. For information about your specific case, please call the Foster Care Recovery Unit (FCRU) at 515-369-2810.
More information and resources are available at Iowa Child Support (Offsite link will open in new window.).
All parents are responsible for the support of their children. The information contained on this page explains the financial responsibility parents have as a result of their child being in foster care. Foster care includes voluntary or court-ordered placement of a child in family foster care, shelter care, group care, or independent living. When your child is in foster care, you receive legal notices and additional information from the Foster Care Recovery Unit. Please take time to read these important materials and respond within the requested time periods. Legal action can be taken even though you do not respond timely.
This document answers the following questions. You may go directly to the answer to the question stated by clicking on the question, or you may read through the entire document.
Why Am I Being Asked to Pay Child Support?
Each parent has the legal responsibility to pay child support while his or her child is in foster care. This includes parents who are living together or are separated, but does not include stepparents. Parents are required to pay child support whether they voluntarily place their child in foster care or the placement is court-ordered. This includes children who are in need of assistance or who have been identified as delinquent.
The amount of child support each parent pays applies to the total cost of foster care, which will be paid up-front by the State of Iowa.
The types of foster care for which parents will be asked to pay include:
How is Child Support Set?
- Family foster care
- Shelter care
- Group care
- Supervised independent living
The District Court and the state's Foster Care Recovery Unit (FCRU) set the amount of child support by using the Iowa Supreme Court guidelines. The District Court will be asked to approve the child support order. A copy of the final order will be sent to you. Establishing a child support order is a serious legal matter. You may want to ask a lawyer for advice regarding the order.
If a parent is not already ordered to pay child support, the process to establish a court order will begin. The parent is served with a legal notice asking for income information. The notice also explains how child support will be calculated and how it can be paid. You may notify the FCRU by calling 515-369-2810 if you want to accept legal service of the notice by mail.
It is very important that each parent provides income information.
You will receive a calculation of the recommended amount of child support based upon your income information. A child support order will be prepared using this recommended amount. The District Court will be asked to approve the child support order. A copy of the final order will be sent to you.
When a parent has already been ordered to pay support for the child in foster care, a new order will not be obtained. However, the support is owed to the state from the first day the child is in foster care through the last day. FCRU collects the amount of child support ordered by the Court.
What if I Receive a Child Support Check While my Child is in Foster Care?
If you receive a child support check, do not cash it. Instead, please call the telephone number listed in the legal notice or the FCRU at 515-369-2810.
How Can I Pay My Child Support?
Your child support can be paid from your wages or other income sources such as worker's compensation, unemployment, disability, and retirement benefits. Payment can be made by income withholding, or with your permission by automatic withdrawal from your bank account.
When you have a child support order, Iowa law requires that a lien be placed on any real estate you own until the amount is paid in full. Making regular payments on your child support obligation does not prevent additional actions from being taken to collect support. These actions may include levies on bank accounts and interception of income tax refunds.
If payments are overdue, the following tools may be used.
What if my Child Receives Social Security Payments or Other Government Money?
- Reporting past-due child support to credit bureaus
- Revoking your driver license
If your child receives government benefits or you receive a benefit check for your child as a representative payee, you should notify the social worker or juvenile court officer. The state will be the representative payee while your child is in foster care. The state's receipt of your child's benefits does not replace your obligation to pay child support.
When your child leaves foster care, the government benefits will be returned to you as representative payee.
Note: If you are disabled and receive social security disability benefits, please call the telephone number listed in the legal notice or the FCRU at 515-369-2810. Your receipt of social security disability benefits may replace child support for the child in placement if the child receives these benefits on your behalf.
No person shall be excluded from employment or the receipt of service or benefits by the Department of Human Services on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, religion or political belief and physical or mental disability.
You can get more information about our services, including payment information, by calling the child support automated information line at 1-888-229-9223 (toll free nationwide).