I am surprised sometimes, how many people do not know that Job and Family Services handles child support collection. Of all that we do, child protection receives the most public attention, and we are also well known for our public assistance programs. But our child support program serves more than 300,000 people in this county and crosses all social and economic boundaries.
Fortunately, many people pay their child support with little intervention from us. Of our 88,000 cases, I would say about one third pay regularly and timely. Another third are in default, but paying fairly regularly to catch up. The last third is the group that requires our most attention. We use a variety of tools to track them down and collect their support, including Most Wanted posters, freezing and seizing funds from bank accounts, intercepting tax refunds, suspending driver’s licenses, suspending professional licenses and confiscating passports.
At a time like this, child support is crucial. It can be the difference between a custodial parent keeping or losing their home. Child support puts food on the table, pays electric bills and buys school clothes. In this economy, every penny counts.
There are few good reasons to not pay child support. Custody problems and other issues can be argued in court – after the child support is paid. Parents cannot let their personal issues get in the way of seeing that the child’s basic needs are met. Hamilton County Job and Family Services is not on either parent’s side. We are on the child’s side.
This is Child Support Awareness Month. We will employ several methods to get our delinquent parents to pay up, including the carrot – amnesty for those with warrants or suspended licenses — and the stick — a new Most Wanted poster. We will also host other events to draw awareness to the issue. Isn’t it a shame we event have to have an awareness month? Shouldn’t supporting your child be a given?
Each of our 88,000 cases has a mother, father and at least one child. This program touches more children than any other public program outside of schools.
Right now, with the economy the way it is, our public assistance programs are receiving a lot of attention. And, of course, child welfare will always grab headlines. But child support is important. It helps keep children safe and healthy. And that’s what we all want.