CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today released first quarter statistics indicating that the “New Hire” child support enforcement program he announced in his 2005 State of the State address has so far delivered nearly $2.6 million in additional money to Illinois families in need. The program improves coordination between the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA), which oversees child support enforcement in the state, and the Department of Employment Security (IDES), which tracks employment. With the help of the New Hires initiative, the state is on track to collect the most child support ever in 2005.
“Hundreds of Illinois families are better off today because business and government have partnered to make certain that parents who owe child support pay what they owe. With better coordination, this year we will exceed $1 billion in child support collections for Illinois families,” the Governor said. “For too long, job hoppers have been evading the system and hurting their children. The departments of Public Aid and Employment Security are working together with Illinois business to do what’s right for kids and families.”
Under the New Hire initiative, Illinois employers must report new hires to IDES within 20 days. The reports are then sent on to IDPA so they can match the information with their list of non-custodial parents with support orders. If a name from the child support order list is found on the IDES New Hire list, IDPA checks to see if they already have the employer on record. If they don’t, IDPA sends an Income Withholding Notice to the employer.
"This is an ideal collaboration between employers and state government that results in a win for Illinois children," said Jerry Stermer, president of Voices for Illinois Children.
“Initiatives like New Hire are helping boost our collections, which were up 10 percent last year. We are reaching companies that previously were not reporting new hires,” said Barry S. Maram, director of IDPA.
As of March 31, an additional 6,184 New Hire reports were generated as a result of the stepped up outreach by IDPA and IDES, resulting in an additional $2,569,967 in income for Illinois families owed child support.
"This is a positive initiative that is business and father friendly," said state Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), chair of the House Child Support Committee. "New Hire encourages parents to be more responsible. This puts money in the hands of families that need it. This shows Child Support Enforcement is headed in the right direction."
“IDES is pleased this cooperative effort is generating additional income that contributes to the economic viability of families living under distressed circumstances,” said Brenda A Russell, director of IDES.
New Hires reaches out to employers in a number of ways:
- Distributes handbooks to all employers that report to IDES explaining the reporting and wage-withholding requirements.
- Employers can call (800) 327-HIRE, or visit the website (www.ides.state.il.us/employer/newhire/general.asp) to get information or clarification about what the law requires.
- Hosts on-site education and training sessions for employers through local chambers of commerce newsletters and trade association conferences.
The New Hire initiative is important because 80 percent of Illinois child support collections come through employee withholding. And child support payments can play an important role in the health, well-being, and educational achievement of children:
- According to a USDA report, a middle-income family with a child born in the year 2000 will spend about $165,630 to raise that child for 17 years.
- Data from the 2000 census indicated that single parents head 28% of Illinois families.
Research shows child support is a critical source of economic stability for moderate and low-income families, and provides important non-economic benefits for children in single-parent families (Center for Law and Social Policy report):
- Child support makes up 16% of household income for those that receive it.
- Child support keeps about half a million children out of poverty and reduces the poverty gap by 8%.
- Children who receive child support obtain significantly more schooling, are more likely to finish high school, and are more likely to attend college than those who do not receive support.
The Department of Public Aid oversees the Child Support Enforcement Division. The Division’s performance fell steeply in the mid 1990’s. In the year 2000, Illinois faced the serious threat of federal penalties for poor child support enforcement. The Blagojevich Administration has been working hard to turn Illinois’ record around and better help struggling single parents meet their families’ needs.
In November 2003, the state launched the Deadbeat Parents Website (www.ilchildsupport.com/deadbeats/) as a new tool in its effort to find delinquent parents who owed significant amounts of child support. In its first year, the site resulted in $160,000 in collections.
In FY04 the Division collected more child support than ever before -- $950.1 million, and improved overall collections by 10% over the previous year.
In 2004, IDES and IDPA found that as many as one-third of Illinois’ employers were not complying with the requirement to report all new hires because they are not familiar with the law. Gov. Blagojevich launched New Hires to make sure employers know what they’re supposed to report and how to do it. As a result, the state is able to more quickly find non-custodial parents, get orders for child support, and start withholding support regularly.