MS 1140 - Association for Children for Enforcement (ACES)
|Title||MS 1140 - Association for Children for Enforcement (ACES)|
The “ACES Collection” was donated by to the Center for Archival Collections by Geraldine Jensen on March 26, 2009. No restrictions have been placed on the use of the collection for research purposes.
The collection was initially processed by BGSU graduate students Jessica Schmidt and Rex Childers, with final processing and the production of the finding aid by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts, in November of 2012.
ACES was incorporated in Toledo, Ohio (Lucas County) on October 9, 1984 as a grass roots response to the institutional failings of the local and state government agencies in enforcing standing court orders for the economic support of children. Originally standing for Action Committee for Enforcement of Child Support, it later evolved into the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support (ACES).
ACES founding President, Geraldine Jensen, who had been told by a local court attorney responsible for assisting her on her own case that “if she thought she could do a better job, she should get some of these women together and do it”, placed a personal notice in The Toledo Blade, her local newspaper, looking for others who were similarly treated. Respondents began meeting and organizing strategies to force the local courts, prosecutors, and child support enforcement agencies to make improvements in their practices to the benefit of those who were dependent upon their performance.
|Scope and Content|
ACES organized itself at its earliest stage as a locally (county) oriented group, primarily to assist those in Lucas County. Recognizing that the enforcement of child support was a county and state obligation, the group also prepared to address issues in the state of Ohio, which quickly led to the establishment of a broader network of county chapters in Ohio, in order to replicate the ACES model.
ACES worked locally in each of its chapters to bring together individuals, primarily women, who had experienced a repetitive phenomenon. Upon the award of a successful judgment of child support, if the individual who was required to make payments would fail to do so, either in whole or in part, the bureaucratic structure was either unable or unwilling to aggressively require collections from the individual. Often the result was a parent with custody of minor children being forced into the welfare system, with the government (state, federal) becoming responsible for providing the family with additional forms of aid (i.e. Section 8 housing, Aid for Dependent Children, Medicaid) to replace the lost support. Local support agencies and courts, not impacted by the financial ramifications of this transfer, and often understaffed for the caseloads, dealt with this by managing the collections that did occur without dispute, but effectively ceased to act on the part of the caseload that was too difficult to collect, transferring the loss to the dependent children. In addition, in the period that ACES was formed (1980’s), the institutional capabilities of each county and state to track and enforce orders on “deadbeat dads” (a term that ACES would become known for) were essentially non-existent; crossing a county line, or even more importantly, a state line, was a successful solution to avoid making required payments. There was no federal regime (including the Internal Revenue Service) that could be used to force a distant parent to pay. This repetitive dilemma, occurring across the United States in every county, became the challenge that ACES would attempt to resolve.
The ACES model, first applied in one county in Ohio, then shared with additional Ohio counties, would become the backbone of a national organization that would impact the landscape of the nation in regard to the enforcement of child support orders. ACES would expand into other states, identifying and training local (county) chapters and state organizations. Additionally, ACES would have to adapt itself into a functioning hierarchy, complete with management and leadership responsibilities nationwide. As part of this process, the ACES budgetary needs increased dramatically, and while the local chapters collected dues, the fees remitted to the National office were not sufficient to sustain any of their larger goals; ACES would become a regular recipient of private foundation grant monies in order to function and expand.
In the political sphere, ACES grew from a local grass roots organization, holding judges, prosecutors and county agencies responsible, to a national organization that would become one of the leading advocacy groups for widespread systemic reform of the bureaucratic inertia that typified the mechanisms of child support enforcement. Using opportunities to tell their stories through various forms of media (print, radio, television) and to connect the disenfranchised individuals to each other through ACES, the group became a significant political power. ACES leaders would gain access to policy-oriented groups working on social policy, and the primary issue of child support enforcement would be considered in the broader context of social services. ACES leaders would regularly communicate with their elected representatives, as well as national politicians who held roles on congressional committees that determined federal policies and state jurisdictional issues.
As an example, over the course of less than 6 years, ACES founding president Geraldine Jensen would rise from a position of economic poverty and frustration, to a seat on the United States Commission on Interstate Child Support in 1990.
Over the course of the ACES operations, the legal structure and administrative capacities surrounding the issue of child support enforcement was reformed, making the avoidance of child support payments less possible. A series of cooperative compacts between states, as well as federal legislation that implemented tracking systems through federal regimes (IRS) along with harsh penalties for non-compliance assessed to state and county bureaucracies made the issue less relevant as the early 1990’s began. ACES and its members were instrumental in bringing this change about. A case could be made that these reforms, driven by the public awareness raised by ACES combined with the political environment, set the stage for the possibility of broader entitlement reform (which culminated in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996) once a workable national system had been put in place to deal with the issue that had driven Geraldine Jensen to found ACES.
This collection would be a valuable resource to researchers interested in numerous fields. Certainly, a historical account of the organization itself would be incomplete without access to the collection. Individuals researching the specific issue (enforcement of child support) and its history would benefit, or those who wish to investigate the time period and social policy issues may find the collection helpful. The collection may be additionally helpful to those interested in getting a glimpse into a truly local grass-roots form of community organizing, where the ultimate result is the successful integration of previously voiceless individuals into the democratic process, in order to affect a series of policy issues, working from kitchen tables and county court protests, eventually to the halls of congress and the White House.
The collection is substantially populated by correspondence (both internal and external to ACES), subject and case Files on policy research and comments, with a large collection of scrapbook material (news clippings) that provide a view of the national ramifications of the issue, linked to local stories of human interest.
MINUTES AND AGENDAS
ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION AND BYLAWS
CHAPTER APPLICATION FILES
CORRESPONDENCE - ACES GENERAL
CORRESPONDENCE - BY STATE
CORRESPONDENCE - SAN JOAQUIN, CA CHAPTER
CORRESPONDENCE - GENERAL INQUIRY
CORRESPONDENCE - INVITATIONS AND OTHER
SUBJECT FILES/CASE FILES
GENERAL SUBJECT FILES
CHAPTER OFFICE FILES
U.S. INTERSTATE CHILD SUPPORT COMMISSION FILES
ACES ANNUAL REPORTS
ACES CHAPTER REPORTS
ACES FINANCIAL REPORTS
SCRIPTS AND MOVIE RELATED
COURT CASE DOCUMENTS
SCRAPBOOKS AND SCRAPBOOK MATERIALS
CLIPPINGS - COMPILED (ACES)
CLIPPINGS - COMPILED (ACES OF CALIFORNIA)
CLIPPINGS - (LOOSE)
CLIPPINGS - (LOOSE - BY STATE)
CLIPPINGS - COMPILED HEINZ AWARDS
BOOKLETS (OTHER CHILD SUPPORT RELATED)
AUDIO RECORDING - PSA RADIO SPOTS
VIDEO RECORDINGS - ACES COVERAGE LOCAL STATIONS (TOLEDO AND OTHER)
VIDEORECORDINGS - ACES INFORMATIONAL/PSA SPOTS/MISC.
VIDEORECORDINGS - ACES COVERAGE ON NEWS/TALK SHOWS
VIDEORECORDINGS - HEINZ AWARDS
VIDEORECORDINGS - “ABANDONED & DECEIVED”
Box 3 (chapter application files)