August 5, 1983

Margaret, thank you very much.

It's a shocking fact that over half of all women who receive child support orders receive less than what they're due. In fact, 28 percent of these women and their children receive no payments at all. There are children in this country who are owed $4 billion from delinquent parents. This is an absolutely unacceptable situation.

Secretary Heckler has called it a growing national disgrace, and I agree completely. A parent's obligation to a child is one which must not be abrogated. And this is not only a financial debt; it's a moral one.

As Governor of California, I made sure that our State had tough child support enforcement laws. I even came before the Congress to lobby for an effective national system to protect the welfare of our nation's children.

Today, in proclaiming August as Child Support Enforcement Month, I hope to focus the Nation's attention on these children who are at the mercy of thoughtless parents. Let's make it our national goal to achieve 100 percent collection from the absent, neglectful parents.

August will kick off this drive, but let me say slack enforcement of child support payments will never be tolerated. The Federal child support enforcement program itself can stand improvement, and I want to thank Secretary Heckler and the composers of our proposal for their diligent and compassionate work. We must reform the Federal child support enforcement system so that it can effectively serve the cheated children of America. I urge the Congress to pass the legislation that we've introduced. We want parents who are deadbeats to pay up and deliver on their responsibilities. And I hope signing this resolution will draw attention not only to the problem but to the solution.

And now, thank you for being here. And I will sign the resolution, and, hopefully, one day we'll sign the legislation.

[At this point, the President signed S.J. Res. 56 and the proclamation.]

That does it.

Note: The President spoke at 10:50 a.m. at the signing ceremony in the Cabinet Room at the White House. Also participating in the ceremony were Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret M. Heckler, Members of Congress, and leaders of child support enforcement organizations.