Aug 20, 2013 11:56 AM by MELISSA CANONE
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services' (DCFS) continued efforts to improve child support collections have been rewarded with more than $8 million as part of a federal Child Support Enforcement Incentive award.
DCFS' award of $8,029,653 for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2011 has more than doubled since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began giving the awards in 2000. DCFS received $7.5 million in FFY 2010 and $7.4 million in FFY 2009 through the incentive award program.
In FFY 2011, DCFS collected more than $385 million in child support payments, up nearly $62 million from FFY 2007.
"Each dollar of this award is reinvested in our efforts to collect current and back-owed child support on behalf of custodial parents taking on the responsibility of raising a child," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "DCFS continues to exceed previous years' child support collections by using tools and best practices to collect from non-custodial parents who evade other efforts."
In FFY 2011, DCFS' Child Support Enforcement division managed 293,112 child support cases, established paternity for 28,057 cases and established 22,284 support orders.
More than $269 million of the collected funds in FFY 2011 went to current child support obligations. The remaining $116 million was applied to arrears cases of unpaid child support obligations. The collection of $385 million in FFY 2011 represents a significant increase over the past four years, up from $323 million collected in FFY 2007.
Current child support and arrears collected through income withholding account for 64.25 percent of all collections. Child support collections also came from federal and state tax intercepts, unemployment claims and other sources including, the Lottery, passport denial, SSA intercepts, liens, BP date matches, financial institution data matches and directly funded from the non-custodial parent accounted for 17.25 percent of collections and arrears.
Federal performance incentive awards are based on five performance indicators, including paternity establishment, obligation establishment, current support, arrears cases collections and cost effectiveness. Awards are given each year following a federal audit of state collections.
DCFS will use the $8 million performance incentive award to reinvest in the child support program and continue to finance components of the program including the Customer Service Center and website, technology upgrades to improve efficiency and effectiveness and parent and asset location systems.
Sonnier believes Louisiana will continue to see a significant increase in child support collections since the 2010 legislation requiring casinos to cross-reference winners of more than $1,200 with a database of individuals owing past-due child support debt was implemented in September 2011. Since the casino initiative launched, more than $868,000 has been collected in back-owed child support. Sonnier said the collection of casino winnings will assist the department in collecting child support arrears that currently exceed $1.3 billion.
August is National Child Support Awareness Month. For more information on Child Support Enforcement or to apply, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/CSE.
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