Child support touches every demographic group of Hamilton County.
We collect from parents who make $20,000 a year and parents who make $200,000 a year. We help children who live in the suburbs and children who live in the city’s core. We serve new parents and parents of a half dozen.
With 85,000 cases, we have at least 255,000 local residents involved in a child support case (one mother, one father and one child.) We know a good portion of those cases have more than one child, so it is safe to say at least 40 percent of the county’s 800,000 residents is involved in a child support case with our agency.
August is national Child Support Month. We plan a series of events to raise awareness around the issue. I want everyone to know how important child support is to the children we serve. I also want some parents who might be behind in their payments to know they will have a rare chance to make amends.
Child support puts food on the table, pays the heating bill and buys school clothes. Child support can be the difference between a custodial parent keeping or losing their home and a family becoming homeless. When children have the financial support they need for life’s necessities, they have a better chance at a successful life.
That is why we take child support collection so seriously. We use a variety of tools to collect child support, including intercepting tax returns, denying passports, freezing and seizing funds from bank accounts, and suspending drivers’ and professional licenses.
About one-third of our child support cases are paid regularly and faithfully. Another third pay sporadically and may be in default. These people often pay when they can, but may get behind because they lack consistent employment. The last third simply make little effort to pay.
I realize our efforts will not result in 100 percent compliance. Some people make it very hard, going to great lengths to hide their income. But we won’t give up. That, I promise you.
Those parents who do want to make good on their delinquent support have an opportunity this month to make things right. We are offering amnesty to those who have suspended driver’s licenses or suspended professional licenses.
To be reinstated, all you have to do is pay one month of child support, report your employment so wages can be garnished and sign an agreement to stay current on your support. Those without employment must agree to enroll in a job readiness program.
We rarely offer amnesty. I hope we have a great response.
More importantly, I hope the general public will take a minute to think about how important financial support is to a child. This is not about the mom or the dad – we don’t take sides. This is about the child.