Maryland’s embattled child support system is making another change designed to save money and improve the ability of the state to collect the money owed to scores of parents. The newest child support change involves a move away from paper checks, which is likely to save the state $1.4 million each year. Instead of issuing paper checks, state agencies will use a new process that requires direct deposit or the use of an electronic payment card. The payment card will be similar to EBT or SNAP benefits, according to state officials.
The state of Maryland collects child support payments on behalf of single parents, distributing the money through its newly revamped system.
Eliminating the paper checks will make the system faster, easier and safer for families. The new program will prevent identities and checks from being stolen, for example. Families will also get their money faster because they will not have to wait on mailed child support checks. The new method is quicker and more secure, which should benefit the state’s children that receive support. Authorities report that check cashing fees are also likely to be eliminated thanks to the new system, which will allow parents to put more money toward their kids.
The state of Maryland distributed more than $544 million in child support during the past fiscal year, which is $25.1 million more than the previous year. Maryland’s child support collection system has come under fire for years of mismanagement. The state’s child support collection has suffered because of poor administrative practices, resulting in legislative changes designed to improve distribution for those who need the money most. Maryland is striving to increase the amount of child support collected while streamlining the process, all in a bid to benefit the state’s youngsters.
The biggest change under the new system will be the creation of the Electronic Payment Issuance Cards, which will allow individuals to withdraw cash from ATMs, bank tellers and credit unions that accept Visa cards, according to state authorities.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Md. Eliminates paper checks for child support payments,” Yvonne Wenger, Jan. 23, 2013