HELP Program Payments Garnishable to Meet Child Support Obligations

By Ardith Van Riper

     During a Regular Meeting of the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature on Feb. 23, the Legislature narrowly passed the ‘Resolution to Clarify Enable Child Support Garnishment of HELP Program Funds.’  This resolution rescinds Resolution Establishment of HELP Program 12-21-21 N and restates guidelines.  The principal procedure changed was that “HELP Program payments is not considered income, but is garnishable to meet child support obligations pursuant to the General Welfare Exclusion Ordinance.”

     The Ho-Chunk Nation Economic Legacy Project (HELP) is the $700 monthly payment for Ho-Chunk Nation adults from January 2022 to June 2022.  The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds the HELP program.

     The child support deduction will likely begin with the April payments.  “The Treasury Department will need about two weeks to set up the program,” said Executive Director of Treasury Samie Overboe during the Regular Meeting of the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature.

     The lack of per capita affects approximately 1,000 children of tribal members.  On July 7, 2020, the Legislature declared that no per capita would be disbursed due to the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to pass resolutions declaring no per capita until the present.

     The vote was an affirmative of five, five opposed, and two abstaining, which is a tie vote.  President White Eagle voted to break the tie, and voted in favor, and the motion carried. 

     Those who voted in favor were Vice President Karena Thundercloud, Rep. Phyllis Smoke, Rep. Kristin White Eagle, Rep. Robert Pilot, and Rep. Danielle DeLong.  Those who opposed were Rep. Conroy Greendeer, Jr., Rep. Stephanie Begay, Rep. Darren Brinegar, Rep. Sarah Lemieux, and Rep. Paul Fox.  Those who abstained were Rep. Shelby Visintin and Rep. Brianna Littlegeorge.