We actively worked 71,000 child support cases per month in 2018. If you consider each case to have one father, one mother and at least one child (a lot involve more than one child), you can see that easily 250,000 to 300,000 of the county’s 800,000 residents are involved in a child support case. The Child Support system ranks second to public education in terms of number of children served.
With national Child Support Month upon us, I am happy to discuss all we do to help fathers, mothers, children and employers involved in the Child Support system. Our services are all free of charge and can be found at www.hcjfs.org/services/child-support.
Our agency establishes paternity, including paying for paternity tests, establishes support orders based on state-mandated payment formulas, and enforces those orders, primarily through wage withholdings. The goal is a simple, seamless process for parents, so children receive support to meet their basic needs.
For those making payments, we have the option of automatic deductions. Those can be made from paychecks, Workers Compensation checks, certain Social Security benefits, pensions and annuities. For those who can’t pay this way, there are five options: online, in person, by mail, by phone and through MoneyGram. Additionally, we will work with those who pay child support to adjust their payments should their income situation change.
For those receiving payments, we provide a Visa card that can be loaded electronically and used like a debit card. Card perks include:
- free additional cards for children
- chip security to prevent fraud
- no fees for teller withdrawals
- the ability to add non-child support funds to the new card
- a mobile app that allows for tracking balance and transactions
Both the paying parent and the parent receiving payment have online accounts where they can access case information, make payment, check balances and much more.
We also work with employers, helping with tasks such as determining withholdings for one or multiple orders or delivering payment. We have a whole list of employer resources on our website. Again, they are all free!
Finally, we go above and beyond what we are mandated to do. For example, we offer a fatherhood program designed to help fathers engage with their children. We know an engaged father is more likely to provide needed financial support and that re-establishing and strengthening the bond between father and child is also crucial to the long-term well-being and success of the child.
This month, we have added a new extra: amnesty for those who owe and have had their driver’s license suspended. In order to re-establish regular payments, we are offering to re-instate the license of those parents who owe if they will pay a portion of their back child support or provide evidence of employment so wages can be garnished. Re-establishing regular child support is best for children in the long run.
As the nation takes a month to draw attention to a child’s right to financial support, I want Hamilton County residents know we are working year-round to preserve that right for more than 100,000 of our community’s children.