Data/Methods: This paper draws on data from the March/April 2014 Current Population Survey (CPS)-Child Support Supplement (CSS). I use data on about 3,000 custodial mothers with a child under 18 years old of whom about 12% lived in an extended-family household. My primary dependent variables are mother’s reports of whether a child support arrangement is in place and its type, and the father’s cash (formal and informal) and in-kind contributions. I separately examine whether any cash support is provided, and the amount. In-kind contributions are measured with a series of binary variables indicating whether the noncustodial father has provided clothes, food, gifts, has paid for child care or summer camp, or for medical expenses.
Results: Descriptive findings show no significant differences in the likelihood of having a child support arrangement, or the type of arrangement. However, CMs who live in extended-family households are less likely to receive any cash support (33%) compared to those who did not live in extended households (43%). The mean amount of cash support received by those in extended family households was $984 compared to $1,886 for those not in extended households. Measures of informal support show a similar pattern of CMs in extended-family households being less likely to receive gifts (50% vs 59%), clothes (37% vs 46%), food (25% vs 33%), contributions to child care (9% vs 12%), and for medical expenses (16% vs 23%). I further investigate these findings to understand whether the lack of contributions for those in extended-family households is related to their lower economic status, or to the potential effect of other adults in the CM’s household.
Conclusions/Implications: Results demonstrate the potential for extended-family members to influence NCFs preferences in providing cash and in-kind support to CMs households, which are usually already financially disadvantaged. A better understanding of extended-family households and the financial resources available to them can inform social work practice, as economic stability is an important social justice issue, particularly for complex, marginalized households. I discuss the implications of my findings for child support policy, child well-being, and for understanding more complex children’s living arrangements that go beyond the nuclear family.