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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 1999

Ryan Takes Steps To Correct Child Support Payment Problems; State Will Issue Emergency Checks To Parents

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today announced that emergency state funds will be dispersed to any parents and children who are facing hardships because their October child support payments have not arrived on time.

Ryan said the emergency checks are part of a three-pronged approach to deal with start-up problems at the State Disbursement Unit, a new federally-mandated system for collecting and distributing child support payments in Illinois.

Since the system began operating on October 1, about 55,000 child support checks have been successfully processed by the SDU and sent out to their correct destination.

But, since the first of the month, there has been a frustrating backlog of around 3,000 checks that have been processed, but must wait for delivery because the SDU has not received adequate information from employers and county clerks.

"I'm very worried about the parents and children caught in this backlog," Ryan said. "We've heard too many stories about parents who are unable to buy medicines or food and parents who have not been able to pay their rent, mortgage or child care on time.

"To help these families, we're going to start - today - issuing emergency checks to people in trouble who need the money as quickly as possible," the governor added.

"The Department of Public Aid has identified money in its budget that can be used to make these payments. The checks will be issued through the SDU and we will continue to issue these emergency funds until I am satisfied that the backlog has been dealt with," he said.

In order for parents to receive an emergency check, they must call the state child support program at 877-225-7077. The SDU staff will verify the parents' information, a check will be cut and it will be in the mail within 48 hours of the initial telephone call.

Second, Ryan ordered the Department of Public Aid to again contact 350,000 Illinois businesses to make sure they are providing the SDU with correct, complete information so the SDU can issue these child support checks.

These businesses were last notified of the changes they must make last week.

Businesses were initially notified six weeks ago about the changes they would have to make in the way they process child support payments.

Ryan said the overwhelming majority of businesses have complied with the changes.

Third, Ryan sent Public Aid personnel into 9 counties who have not complied with the agency's requests to link their child support systems with the SDU or to cooperate with the federally-mandated system. These clerks have had more than a year to prepare for the change to the SDU.

Earlier this year, all of the circuit clerks agreed that they would help implement the new system and would not hold up any child support checks that were mistakenly sent to them instead of to the SDU. Public Aid supplied the counties with computers and software designed to help them track the status of child support payments for their residents once the SDU started operating.

"We're taking these steps to ensure that parents and children get their checks on time. I'm confident, and Director Patla is confident, that all of these problems will be corrected soon," Ryan said. "We have a lot of confidence in the SDU. Our confidence is based on the fact that more than 55,000 checks have been successfully processed the SDU and delivered since October 1.

"The steps we're taking today will help needy parents and children, and will make sure that the SDU works more efficiently in the future."


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