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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 1999

Governor Encourages Utilities To Grant Leniency, Announces Opening Of Technical Assistance Hubs For Circuit Clerks

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today encouraged utilities statewide to grant leniency to parents with delayed child support payments and announced the opening of regional technical assistance hubs to offer training to Circuit Clerks.

Ryan sent letters to more than 300 utility company officials in Illinois explaining the situation that has caused the delay of thousands of checks to child support recipients. Illinois opened a new centralized, statewide disbursement unit on October 1 at the DuPage County Circuit Clerk's Office following a federal mandate. Data problems has caused a backlog in the disbursement of child support checks to custodial parents for about nine weeks.

"Utilities across this state may be receiving calls from desperate parents who have not received their child support payments and need more time to pay their utility bills," Ryan said. "We hope that utilities appreciate the impact that delayed child support payments have had on parents trying to meet their financial obligations along with trying to pay for food, electricity, gas and other utilities. If possible, we hope these companies will consider forgoing late fees or penalties for late payments for services provided to these families from October 1."

Dr. Ann Patla, Director of the Department of Public Aid, said the establishment of a Statewide Center in Springfield and Regional Technical Assistance "hubs" across the state, will provide training that has been requested by circuit clerks. The training will include assistance on operating personal computers, Lotus Notes and other new software that has been implemented at the centralized statewide disbursement unit.

The first hub will be established in Rockford in partnership with Circuit Clerk Marc Gasparini of Winnebago County. "Marc has supported the SDU operation and was the first to volunteer to set up a hub," Patla said. The technical assistance training offered to the Circuit Clerks will help them to facilitate in getting payment data. In the meantime, Patla noted that the distribution of child support payments in a timely manner continues to improve day by day.

"We believe this is something that will provide a solution for a critical need. The clerks have asked for more training, and we think that establishing these hubs that are accessible to them will be a valuable addition to how we can help them," said Patla.

The regional hubs will be located in: Rockford at the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk's office; Jerseyville at the Jersey County Circuit Clerk's Office; Bloomington at the McLean County Circuit Clerk's Office; and Champaign at the Champaign County Circuit Clerk's Office.

A copy of the Governor's letter and a tentative schedule of new regional hubs is attached.

A Message from Governor George H. Ryan…

Dear Friend,

Many Illinois parents have had their child support payments delayed recently through no fault of their own. This situation, unfortunately, is the result of federal and state mandates requiring the state to implement a centralized child support payment processing center by October, 1, 1999, for all 102 counties. Illinois began operation of the State Disbursement Unit in DuPage County on that date.

We are asking for your assistance because of the impact this situation has created for parents trying to meet their financial obligations as well as food, electricity, gas and other utilities.

We are asking for your consideration in forgoing late fees or penalties for late payments for services provided from October 1 to December 31, 1999. Most importantly, we are asking that services not be cut to those parents whose child support payments have been delayed during this time period.

For your convenience we have provided a telephone number to call for verification of active child support cases. That number is: 217-557-6258.

Thank you for your consideration in helping up to make this situation better for those parents and children affected by these delays.

CIRCUIT COURT CLERK TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CENTER AND HUBS

-Tentative Roll Out Schedule*

-Tentative Implementation Date

1. Statewide Regional Technical Assistance Center/Springfield**

Coordinator: Department of Public Aid (12/09/99)

2. North West Regional Technical Assistance HUB/Rockford

Coordinator: Winnebago County Circuit Court Clerk Marc Gasparini (12/1999)

3. South West Regional Technical Assistance HUB/Jerseyville

Coordinator: Jersey County Circuit Court Clerk Charles Huebener (12/1999)

4. Central Regional Technical Assistance HUB/Bloomington

Coordinator: McLean County Circuit Court Clerk Sandra K. Parker (1/2000)

5. Central East Regional Technical Assistance HUB/Champaign

Coordinator: Champaign County Circuit Court Clerk Linda S. Frank (1/2000)

6. Metropolitan North Regional Technical Assistance HUB

Location to be announced _(1/2000)

7. Central West Regional Technical Assistance HUB

Location to be determined (1/2000)

8. Southern Regional Technical Assistance HUB

Location to be determined (1/2000)

Notes:

* Cook County and DuPage County are operating with their own, internal systems and do not need to be included in any technical assistance HUB.

** The Statewide Center is based in Springfield and will be coordinated by DPA. Technical Assistance personnel assigned by HUB area will be based in the Statewide Center and at least one person will be assigned to each HUB.



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