How California’s Broken Child Support System Strips Wealth from Vulnerable Families


When a parent makes a child support payment in California, odds are it will never reach their child. For single parents who are on welfare, child support payments are redirected to reimburse federal, state and local governments for the cost of welfare. In California, 73% of the $17 billion in delinquent child support debt is owed to government, not to parents. If a parent cannot afford to pay this welfare reimbursement, disastrous consequences quickly set in: they are charged 10% compound interest, their driver’s license and passport may be suspended, their wages garnished, their bank accounts levied, and they can even be incarcerated. California’s welfare reimbursement system disguised as child support has a disproportionate and devastating impact on black, brown and low-income families. Together, we can create a child support system that strengthens, rather than undermines, families. Join this session to learn more about how the child support system strips wealth from low-income families, proliferates harmful narratives of families of color, and to learn more about program and policy solutions to drive forward reforms.


Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Vice President of Programs and Strategy, Insight Center for Community Economic Development

Jhumpa is the Vice President of Programs and Strategy at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. In this role, Jhumpa is a key contributor to the thought leadership of the Insight Center, provides cross-program content support and strategic guidance, and oversees the racial and economic equity portfolio. She directly leads work identifying policy and narrative solutions to racial wealth inequities. Jhumpa has provided her leadership, racial justice analysis and thinking on various national and local research and capacity building projects focused on creating systems that address and meet the needs of communities of color, low-income communities and immigrants. Her expertise includes developing equity-based policies and frameworks; conducting best practice research; technical assistance and capacity building; incorporating community and student voice into policy and programming; and facilitating complex dialogues on race, culture, and immigration.
Christa Brown, Manager, Financial Justice Project, City and County of San Francisco

Christa is the manager of the Financial Justice Project, housed in the San Francisco Treasurer & Tax Collector’s Office. San Francisco is the first city in the nation to launch a project embedded in government to assess and reform how fines and fees impact low-income people and communities of color. Prior to her work with the City, Christa worked for United Way of the Bay Area as the Director of the SparkPoint Initiative, a program that brings together over 80 nonprofit and government programs to serve low-income women and families, and has served over 20,000 people to date. Christa has served on the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter boards in Solano and Marin Counties, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of San Francisco, and a Master’s degree from the Goldman School of Public Policy.
Lewis Brown, Jr., Senior Associate, PolicyLink

Lewis is an attorney and advocate working to advance equity in California and local jurisdictions throughout the United States. His role involves drafting legislation, providing policy design and implementation advice to communities and policymakers, and researching key legal issues that influence policy development. Prior to joining PolicyLink, Lewis served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Inez Smith Reid of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and practiced law for a global law firm where he focused on securities litigation and internal investigations. Lewis holds a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia Bars.
Tara Gamboa-Eastman, Consultant

Tara Gamboa-Eastman is a consultant for the Financial Justice Project researching the impact of government-owed child support debt on California families. Tara previously worked for the City and County of San Francisco and the California Work & Family Coalition where she worked to advance work-family policies throughout the state. Tara earned a Bachelor degree from UC Berkeley and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.