County Child Support Starts College Savings Plan

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Saving for college can be a challenge for anyone, but perhaps it can be more so for families who rely on child support payments.

To help address this challenge, the San Diego County Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is implementing a new college savings program for families called Parents Investing in Education. A parent who does not have custody of a child and is making support payments can participate by making contributions to the California Scholarshare program. The state will match the parent’s contribution up to $250 for 2018, said Amy Miragliotta, deputy director for the Department of Child Support Services.

For parents who may owe the state for past support, they may qualify for a reduction of that debt by making deposits into the child’s college savings account.

“About 60 percent (of the families in the department’s cases) are living at or below the poverty line,” said Miragliotta. “Education is one key factor that can help individuals out of poverty. So we know this can be huge in helping to break the cycle and provide opportunity for the child.”

A parent can deposit just $5 a month to start building the savings. Miragliotta said research shows even a relatively small amount of savings can instill a college-bound mindset in children. According to statistics from Prosperity Now (formerly Center for Economic Development), children with $1 to $499 in college savings are three times more likely to attend post-secondary education and four times more likely to graduate from post-secondary education.

The County department will also be offering eligible families enrolled in the program a refurbished computer and monitor to help their children pursue their education.

“This program will help both parents feel involved in the child’s future, and the child will know their parents are interested in their educational success,” said Jeff Grissom, Director of Child Support Services.

DCSS case managers will be talking to parents about the new program, and the department is developing a commercial to be shown online and in facilities. Once enrolled in the program, a state-sponsored plan manager will assist in setting up the account.

The department will be holding informational meetings about the program in May. The first two are being held on Tuesday, May 8 and Friday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to noon at 401 Mile of Cars Way on the third floor in National City. To learn more about the meetings call 1-866-901-3212.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact