While we get far more attention for our efforts in child welfare and public assistance, the largest program we administer is our Child Support program. Recently, we have had a few interesting developments when it comes to collections.
The state is now taking child support money for delinquent accounts from gambling winnings at Ohio casinos. Anyone who wins more than $600 will have their name cross-checked with the Child Support database of delinquent accounts.
While we have yet to make a collection this way, I think it is an innovative way to ensure children receive the support they need. We have more than 80,000 child support cases and if you consider each case to have one father, one mother and one child, we are dealing with about 250,000 county residents and more than 80,000 children. But, as we all know, many of those cases involve more than one child.
As a rule, about a third of those cases are consistently delinquent. That is a great deal of children who are going without money that could be used for rent, utilities, clothes, school supplies and any other needs they may have.
Our Child Support team does a really good job of trying to collect from delinquent parents. Last year, the team collected more than $130 million.
Technicians 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.
While collecting from casino winnings is rather new, we have collected from state lottery winnings for some time. Recently, the state’s lottery intercept program caught one Hamilton County parent’s lottery winnings and loaded $46,341 onto the mom’s eQuickPay card! Our Child Support staff called – just before Christmas – to let her know not only that she’d received a payment, but just how big it was.
The Ohio Lottery and Job and Family Services work together to ensure lottery winners who owe child support pay their back support before keeping any winnings. They check winnings of $600 or more.
The $46,341 is one of the largest amounts Hamilton County Job and Family Services has ever helped recover for a custodial parent.
We have also had great success with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Recently, we collected nearly $10,000 for three local children when their parents were set to receive large payouts from Ohio Worker’s Compensation.
For our department, child support collection is not about custody of the child, visitation with the child, how the money is spent once it is received or any other problems the parents may have between themselves. Those battles must be handled in court.
We are charged simply with collecting the support. The child’s best interest is our top priority. We will do our best to ensure the child has the financial means to meet their needs.
Most of the time, collecting happens without any issues. But sometimes, we have to go to great lengths to meet the mandate we have on behalf of children. I consider it vital a child has a place to call home, food to eat and clothes to stay warm. So, yes, great lengths is worth it.