SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the state's new Deadbeat parents Web site has recovered more than $37,000 in past due child support in its first month of operation.
One parent featured on the site, Anthony Bezroukoff from California, sent in $19,000 he owed in child support after his photograph appeared on the site, which was created by the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA). In a second case, a non-custodial parent who was afraid that he would be featured on the site mailed in a check to satisfy the almost $18,000 he owed.
"The Web site is having exactly the effect we intended," Blagojevich said. "Not only is it having an impact on the deadbeat parents featured on the site, but it has also evidently encouraged a parent who was eligible to be pictured to do his legal duty and pay the money he owes for the support of his child."
The Web site, at www.ilchildsupport.com/deadbeats/
, was launched Nov. 24. It is the most visible element in the Blagojevich administration's sweeping plan to reinvigorate the state's Child Support Enforcement system.
"I am personally ecstatic about this wonderful news," said Pamela Kahane, who had a son with Bezroukoff and received the $19,000 check two days before Christmas. "The new Web site is fantastic! The system has turned out to be useful and beneficial so rapidly."
She added that Bezroukoff, "moved to California and thought he would be out of reach, but the Web site puts him back into reach and makes him accountable for his child support obligation."
In the second case, an Oak Park man sent an $18,000 check for the child support he owed to a street address that is advertised only on the Web site.
"The Department is very encouraged by the initial success of the Deadbeats Web site,” said Barry S. Maram, IDPA Director. “We think this will be a powerful enforcement tool as we carry out our mission, which is to improve the lives of children across Illinois.”
The Web site, which was authorized by state law, will feature photos of the state's most egregious delinquent parents. 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, IDPA requires that the custodial parent in the case must agree to have the case publicized. IDPA also 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 IDPA's notable child support achievements in 2003, as it focused on implementing Gov. Blagojevich's pledge to reform and renew state government:
* Recorded statistical improvements, with a 7.9 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.
* 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.
* Federal authorities this month awarded full certification to IDPA's Key Information Delivery System (KIDS), which is a federally mandated system for keeping track of all child support data in the state. More than half the state's and territories have not achieved this important milestone.
* Reinventing 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.