State Nets Record Child Support Collections

The Department of Human Resources, the embattled agency responsible for collecting child support in Maryland, is making significant progress toward fixing the problems identified in a recent audit. The department had been investigated by the Office of Legislative Audits, which questioned its ability to oversee the Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA). A 2011 report showed that the department had 15 serious deficiencies that were preventing it from maximizing its child support collection processes.

Now, the administration says it has remedied 11 of the violations and will fix the remaining four by the end of next month. The department had not been using all of its resources to recover overdue child support, but that seems to have changed since the remedies have been adopted. An aggressive collections campaign has resulted in record-high child support payments, according to local media outlets.

The department’s current leader took the helm in May 2011. A full audit of the system showed that the Child Support Enforcement Administration was plagued with shortcomings that were preventing the organization from recovering many overdue bills. Collectors were failing to seize money from parents’ bank accounts, for example, and they were also withholding insufficient wages in many cases. Some checks were also issued to deceased custodial parents; those checks were often fraudulently cashed.

To fix the problems, the new department leader created several database systems and reform initiatives. CSEA now has renegotiated contracts with collections agencies that are required to meet high performance expectations. Furthermore, the organization has established assistance programs to help noncustodial parents make their child support payments on time.

This is great news for the thousands of parents who depend on child support every year in the state of Maryland. The new system has yielded a $25 million increase over the previous year, setting a state record of $544 million in collected child support. Supporters are optimistic that the families who most need the funds are finally receiving help.

Source: The Daily Record, “Child support agency makes progress on reforms,” Llana Kowarski, March 6, 2013