Friday, September 5, 2008

National Recognition for County Child Support Efforts

One of the most challenging responsibilities we shoulder as a County is to enforce child support obligations by parents.

In one way, our job is simple: support the needs of children by enforcing the law. This can mean coming down hard on deadbat dads who are ignoring their responsibilities.

At the same time, it gets complicated because we know that simply locking people up for child support problems is not only expensive (and uses limited jailspace), but for those without means, it also will not likely lead to either gainful employment or the ultimate payment of child support. Indeed, it may push payments back even further, harming the child we're trying to help.

Like a lot of other issues in our criminal justice system, this requires a common sense balance, with a constant eye on the ultimate goal: supporting the children.

Given this challenge, it was great to see Hamilton County receive national recognition, by the National Association of Counties, for our efforts in this area:

In particular, the article highlighted innovative efforts we have made 1) to identify parents who owe child support, 2) to enforce payment through a range of tools, and 3) to connect parents to job training and gainful employment that will allow them to meet their obligations.

This third issue is a new approach I am excited about: The Seek Work program is a new effort that connects unemployed or "under"-employed people who owe child support to our Super Jobs Center (which, as described below, has had wonderful results recently). Once there, they have the opportunity to find the work that will help them pay their obligation. Obviously, the more people who we can get on this path, the better.

The national attention on our efforts is great. But far more important, this common sense, balanced approach should help kids get the support they need and deserve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an exemplary example of priority service delivery. By combining recipients of one service, child support, with the SuperJobs program - the gov't impacts positive results for both and the community.

The failure to receive child support is the number one indicator of childhood poverty and is directly linked to the absence of fathers in kids' lives.

Additionally, the Seek Work program often reduces criminal activity (because nonpayors are "busy" engaged in illegal ways to earn money that can't be tracked) and eliminates under the table wage earners who not only don't pay support, they don't pay taxes (an almost billion dollar loss of tax revenue in the state of Ohio according to the DOL).

This is efficient governance

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