SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the State of Illinois’ child support program is being recognized for high performance by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). On September 11, Illinois will be awarded a Commissioner’s Award of Excellence for High Performance at the 17th National Child Support Enforcement Training Conference in Washington, DC. This award recognizes Illinois for performance in all areas of the national strategic plan for child support. Just seven years ago, Illinois’ child support system was ranked among the worst in that nation.
“No one struggles more with the rising costs of raising a family like single parents,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Before I became Governor, the child support system in our state was the worst in the nation. But by taking a series of aggressive and creative steps, we’ve turned this program around. We’re breaking our own records and receiving national recognition for improvement like this award from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. What all this means is more Illinois parents than ever are getting the payments they are owed to provide for their kids.”
“Often Illinois parents struggle to provide for their families because they are not receiving the financial assistance they should through child support,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Before I became Governor, the child support system in our state was among the worst in the nation. But this program has turned a major corner and is now receiving National recognition for high performance. As a result of our efforts to improve this program, more Illinois parents than ever are getting the payments they are owed to support their families and provide a better life for their children.”
This award recognizes Illinois for performance in all areas of the national strategic plan for child support: helping families establish legal relationships with their children, establishment and collection of support, and becoming more cost effective and financially responsible.
Illinois improved the percentage of establishment of legal parentage by 4 percent in federal fiscal year 2006, while also increasing cases with support orders from 60 percent to 67 percent for the same federal fiscal year. Collections for cases receiving full child support enforcement services increased by more than $63 million. Between 2002 and 2006, the cost effectiveness ratio improved 46.5 percent, from $2.62 to $3.84.
In 2006, the Illinois child support program was named the National Child Support Enforcement Association's Most Improved Program. Also in 2006, the program was awarded the Lincoln Foundation for Performance Excellence Silver Award.
Over the past four years, Gov. Blagojevich launched a number of innovative and aggressive programs to improve child support collections, including the Deadbeat Parents website and New Hire Directory. These changes have resulted in significant improvements for parents and children who rely on the system. For example, the Governor’s New Hire Directory more than doubled collections from newly hired non-custodial parents, from $1.5 million per month to an average of $3.8 million per month.
Under the Blagojevich administration, the child support program also significantly strengthened existing collection tactics. Child support collections that resulted from passport denials for debts owed to Illinois families grew from only $203,000 in 2002 to over $1.4 million in state fiscal year 2007. In addition, the Department of Child Support Enforcement successfully seized more than $13.5 million in assets, compared to $2.7 million in 2002. Since the inception of the administrative lien program, HFS has collected more than $50 million in past due support through liens and seizures. Collections now average more than $1 million per month. More than 60 percent of the state fiscal year 2007 collections of $13.5 million were the result of seizure of bank accounts held by child support debtors.
“I want to thank the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement for recognizing the dramatic improvements under this Administration,” said Barry Maram, Director of HFS. Noting that HFS has achieved record child support collections for three years in a row, Director Maram said “This award recognizes our commitment to helping children have the childhood they deserve.”
The continued improvements in child support collections in Illinois are due to the critical programs Gov. Blagojevich has implemented since taking office.
The Deadbeat Parents Web site: In November 2003, Governor Blagojevich launched the Deadbeat Parents Web site, www.ilchildsupport.com/deadbeats
, which identifies parents who owe more than $5,000 in child support payments and whose families wish for their debt to be made public. More than $345,000 has been collected from the most egregious child support evaders through the Deadbeat Parent Web site.
Collaboration with Clerks of Circuit Court: This year, HFS launched a new collaboration with Illinois Clerks of Circuit Court to help parents sign up for child support enforcement services as soon as a new order is issued by the Courts. Early enforcement efforts will help new child support cases get on track and stay on track, making regular collection of support for families a reality. Clerks of Court will provide custodial parents with information about the child support program and applications for the enforcement services.
Project Clean Slate: In January 2007, HFS implemented Project Clean Slate to assist low-income fathers in reducing debt owed to the State while encouraging them to make their current support payments to their family. Non-custodial parents who owe child support to the State may be eligible to have the debt erased by making regular payments of support owed to families. To be eligible, Non-custodial parents must prove they were unemployed or otherwise unable to make payments in the past. To learn more or to request an application, Non-custodial parents should call 312-793-8222.
These initiatives and resulting success earned the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) an $8.6 million federal bonus for meeting federal child support indicators.
All child support enforcement services are free and include the automatic location of employers, automatic service on income withholding notices, the submission of child support debt to credit reporting agencies and to the state and federal governments that can then intercept tax refunds, suspend or revoke professional and occupational licenses and deny passports. Information about applying is available on the HFS Web site, www.hfs.illinois.gov.