AG’s Office Announces Record Child Support Collections
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has announced that its child support division set a new record by collecting more than $2.6 billion in child support for the state during the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31.
The $2.6 billion in collections surpassed the previous year’s all-time record by $300 million, and marks the sixth consecutive year that child support collections have exceeded previous. To date, more than $12 billion in child support has been collected since Attorney General Greg Abbott took office in December 2002.
“Efficient, effective child support collections help ensure that young Texans with have the resources they need to grow healthy and strong,” Abbott said in announcing the record collections. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of child support division employees, child support collections continue to increase in the State of Texas. This success not only helps children all across the state, but it also ensures that parents financially support their children – not the taxpayers.”
Abbott also pointed out that the Texas AG’s child support division ranks first in the nation for the amount of child support collected. Texas’ collections have grown at a rate triple the national average over the previous one-, five-, and 10-year periods.
For the past two years, Texas has received the highest federal incentive payment in the nation based on its performance. In 2007, the National Child Support Enforcement Association recognized the Texas program as the best in the nation.
Families who receive child support attribute the successful outcome of their enforcement cases to the efforts of child support employees across the state. According to one mother, aggressive enforcement by the Wichita Falls child support office has made it possible to send her 18-year-old daughter to college.
A single mother of an 11-year-old daughter with a heart condition credits the Missouri City child support office with the regular child support she receives.
That mother wrote, “My child hasn’t seen her father in seven years. Because of your efforts, my child support comes in like clockwork. Since the divorce, it’s been the only thing I could count on. Thank everyone for all the great work.”
Abbott stressed that aggressive child support collections help not only parents who are due payments, but taxpayers as well.
“By collecting record levels of child support, we are not only serving children who depend on us for much-needed support, but we are also serving taxpayers. We are ensuring that parents take responsibility for their children, so they are less dependent on taxpayer-funded programs for assistance,” Abbott said.
Other major accomplishments of the AG’s child support division during the last fiscal year included:
• The division obtained court orders obligating 54,000 parents to pay child support. A court order is required to make a parent legally responsible to pay child support.
• When other enforcement efforts fail, the Office of the Attorney General seeks jail time for delinquent parents who ignore court orders to pay child support obligations. In the last fiscal year, more than 4,000 parents were incarcerated for failing to pay child support.
• The OAG’s 24-hour toll-free automated voice response system handled more than 24 million calls during the last fiscal year. With one phone call, parents who pay child support and parents who receive child support can obtain information about recent child support payments; dates and locations of pending court hearings; dates of service on current legal actions; availability of genetic test results and child support amounts due.
• Child Support Interactive, located on the main Attorney General Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov, received more than 14 million visits in the last fiscal year. The site provides general information about the child support program and applying for services. Those with child support cases can obtain specific case information from a secure section of the site.
• Direct deposit and the Texas Debit Card provide an alternative to receiving child support payments by mail. These electronic options have saved taxpayers $17.7 million since 2005, because costs to process and mail paper checks are eliminated.
• In preparation for the beginning of this school year, the child support division trained more than 3,000 Texas teachers to deliver the Parenting and Paternity Awareness, or PAPA, curriculum to high school students. PAPA’s 14-session curriculum covers the responsibilities of teen parenting and the importance of postponing child-bearing until older and in a stable, committed relationship such as marriage.
Additionally, many non-custodial parents who want to pay child support face obstacles to finding and keeping steady employment. In partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission, the child support division began the NCP Choices project that allows local judges to order unemployed and underemployed parents who are behind on their payments to participate in employment services or face jail time.
The NCP Choices project is now operating in 10 locations across the state. Since 2005, the program has collected more than $7 million from parents who were neither working nor paying child support when ordered into the program.