Only one state--Wisconsin--provides an example of the type of child support system that Jensen and others would like to see other states emulate.
Wisconsin passes along all the money it collects on behalf of single parents on public assistance without withholding other government benefits.
"Wisconsin's philosophy was that since welfare was supposed to mimic the role of the absent parent, then mothers should receive all of the child support that came their way," said Maria Cancian, an economics professor at the Institute for Research on Poverty in Wisconsin who has studied the impact of Wisconsin's child support system.
"A job wouldn't stop paying you because you were getting child support," she said.
Cancian and her colleagues found that under the new system, Wisconsin mothers were more likely to establish paternity when they received more child support, non-custodial parents were more likely to pay child support when the money went to the families and that mothers and fathers had fewer conflicts over child support payments when the payments went to the custodial parent rather than to the government.
Cancian also found that the new program had no negative effect on the state's revenue, since the drop in revenue from lost child support collections was offset when women who received regular child support payments went off welfare.