SPRINGFIELD – Launching a high tech weapon against parents who shirk their child support obligations, the Illinois Department of Public Aid’s Division of Child Support Enforcement unveiled today a Web site featuring photos of the state’s worst “deadbeats.”
The new Web site – located at www.ilchildsupport.com/deadbeats/
– is intended to shine a spotlight on deadbeat parents who abandon their kids and refuse to pay their fair share for their children’s upbringing. It is also meant to have a powerful deterrent effect on parents who may be eligible but not yet included on the Web site.
“The Blagojevich Administration is sending a clear message to parents who think they can thumb their noses at the law and hide in the shadows,” said Public Aid Director Barry S. Maram. “We are going to expose them to the light of day.”
The new Web site – the most visible element of the Blagojevich administration’s sweeping efforts to overhaul and reinvigorate the state’s Child Support Enforcement system -- can be listed with other achievements this year including the roll out of a state-of-the art customer service phone system and a revamping of the intake process. The agency has also recorded sharp increases in the percentages of support orders enforced and current collections received. The Illinois Department of Public Aid has also successfully turned over operation of the State Disbursement Unit to a private contractor, ACS State and Local Solutions, which processes over 500,000 child support checks each month while saving the state $9 million a year.
The deadbeat Web site, which was authorized by state law, will feature photos of the state’s most egregious delinquent parents, some of whom owe over $85,000.
To be eligible for inclusion on the site, a delinquent parent must owe more than $5,000 in past due child support based on an Illinois court or administrative order.
In addition, the department requires that the custodial parent in the case must agree to have the case publicized.
“This is just one more enforcement tool the department can now use to enforce compliance with child support obligations,” said Child Support Enforcement Administrator Lonnie Nasatir. “We think shame can be a powerful motivating force.”
The Department is also publicizing the cases in the hope that members of the public who may have information about income or property owned by the delinquent parents will contact officials via the Web site.
The agency uses a number of tools to recover unpaid child support, including: intercepting state and federal tax refunds; suspending Illinois professional licenses; placing liens on real and personal property; collaborating with the Illinois Department of Revenue and private collection agencies; and reporting the debt to credit reporting agencies.
Following are some of the Division of Child Support Enforcement’s (DCSE) notable achievements in the first year of the Blagojevich Administration:
· In line with Governor Blagojevich’s pledge to reform and renew state government, DCSE is re-inventing the way it does business: Customer Service phone lines have been consolidated into a centralized call center offering answers to the most frequently asked questions 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, via an automated voice response system; also, the intake process is being revised so that new cases are being handled more efficiently.
· DCSE recorded impressive statistical improvements, with an 8.1 percent increase in the percentage of current collections, from 39.1 percent in federal fiscal year 2002 to 47 percent in 2003; and a 5.9 percent gain in the percentage of support orders enforced, from 40.8 percent to 46.7 percent.
· DCSE successfully turned over operation of the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) to an outside vendor this summer, saving the state $9 million a year, and avoiding the problems that surrounded the initial implementation of the SDU in 1999. A high tech call-in center at the SDU gives customers access to payment and other information about their case through a 24-hour-a-day automated voice response system. If they need to speak to a live operator, the waiting time is less than one minute.
· DCSE’s Community Outreach program has won praise for its innovative approach to solving the problems of clients. The initiatives include: a federally-funded Access and Visitation project; participation in a federally-funded project to help former prisoners re-integrate with their families; outreach to parents at WIC and Headstart Centers; training for hospitals in helping parents voluntarily establish parentage; and services to help non-custodial parents find employment or obtain other vital support programs.
· In recent weeks, the Division has collaborated with representatives from the armed forces, the Attorney General, the Lt. Governor, and private attorneys to take a burden off the backs of military reservists. The task force devised procedures to modify the child support orders based on the reduced military income for approximately 2,000 military reservists in Illinois. Illinois is one of the first states in the nation to identify and solve this problem.
The Department of Public Aid (IDPA) is the agency responsible for the state's Medicaid programs, which include KidCare, FamilyCare and SeniorCare. The agency also oversees the Division of Child Support Enforcement, which is responsible for helping parents establish paternity and obtain child support orders.