Statewide and local child support collection rates improve

Sarah Fields, assistant director of the Montgomery County Child Support Enforcement Agency, is shown accepting an award for the agency. She says better technology has helped the agency ramp up its collection efforts.
Caption
Sarah Fields, assistant director of the Montgomery County Child Support Enforcement Agency, is shown accepting an award for the agency. She says better technology has helped the agency ramp up its collection efforts.

The end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 20, brought some good news for the collection of child support in the area and around the state.

Ohio collected close to 70 percent of current child support owed, above the national average of 65.8 percent, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

MORE: Child support overhaul targets ‘best interests of the children’

The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 each year.

Data released this week by the ODJFS Office of Child Support, which collects and distributes nearly $2 billion annually for the support of more than 1 million Ohio children, shows that the collection of child support statewide has improved.

Local counties in the Miami Valley region have improved numbers regarding the collection of support according to the data.

The Office of Child Support led a “Project I-70” initiative to help county agencies strive to achieve a 70 percent collection rate, which also could lead to additional federal funding.

The office established collection goals for each county and began providing them with regular performance reports highlighting their progress according to ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall.

MORE: Fraud, poor collection rates plague Ohio’s child support system

In Montgomery County for the 2019 federal fiscal year, a little over $97 million was owed in support, while just over $66 million was disbursed, or 68 percent. Greene County had $24.6 million owed and disbursed $18.3 million for a 74 percent rate. Clark County had $22.5 million owed, with $14.8 million disbursed, giving it a 66 percent payment rate.

Miami County cases saw $19.8 million owed in child support for the 2019 federal fiscal year and $13.6 million was disbursed, for a 69 percent payment rate. Warren County saw $42,711,048 owed, and $32,338,577 in disbursements for an I-70 rating of 75 percent.

Statewide in the 2019 federal fiscal year, there was close to $2 billion in child support owed, while total disbursement totaled $1.2 billion for a 70 percent rating.

Sarah Fields, assistant director of the Montgomery County Child Support Enforcement Agency, said the county had a “pretty good year” with its collection rate, which grew .6 percent from the previous fiscal year. She added that better technology has helped the agency deal with a heavy caseload and find those who don’t want to pay their support.

“A lot of our job deals with finding people who don’t want to be found,” she said.

Most child support is collected through income-withholding orders issued to noncustodial parents' employers. Ohio recently gave noncustodial parents the option of paying child support online at oh.smartchildsupport.com. Parents also can make payments at their local agency.

MORE: California woman awarded $150K in back child support nearly 50 years after divorce

Custodial parents can opt to have their child support directly deposited to a bank account or to a debit card. Since there has been a change in vendors, families received new debit cards in June.

They also gained the ability to order companion cards for family members and to make free withdrawals from in-network ATMs. The new cards have enhanced fraud protection features, as well.

Ohio’s child support collection program is administered locally by 88 county child support enforcement agencies, which also locate noncustodial parents, establish legal paternity, establish child and medical support orders, and enforce support orders.

MORE: DAYTON STRONG: Celebration of peace, healing, solutions kicks off this weekend