SPRINGFIELD– Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced new technology could bring an additional $60 million in unpaid child support to the state. The point-of-sale technology administered through at the Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) allows the Illinois Department of Healthcare Family Services Division of Child Support Enforcement (HFS DCSE) to crosscheck names of child support violators with everyone who applies for a hunting or fishing license in the state. If the applicant owes more than $1,000 in child support payments, they will not be issued a license. When HFS and DNR matched records of delinquent parents with 2006 applicants for hunting and fishing licenses they found nearly 6,000 matches with outstanding payments of more than $60 million.
“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. “Through the use of DNR’s technology, we are able to stop deadbeat parents in their tracks, and get Illinois’ children the child support they deserve”
HFS is federally required to deny recreational licenses (including hunting and fishing licenses) to anyone delinquent on child support payments but in the past this has been a process heavy in paperwork. The new automation allows the two agencies to work together to identify violators immediately bring much needed support to these families.
“While the DNR is charged with making outdoor recreation available to the public we hope that this will encourage people to take care of their primary responsibilities first,” said DNR Acting Director Sam Flood. “This is just another example of the benefits this point of sale licensing system brings to DNR and the public we serve.”
Since early September, 61 delinquent parents have entered into payment agreements as a result of this new initiative, resulting in collections of more than $36,000.
Delinquent parents who want to avoid having their license denied should contact Healthcare and Family Services at 1-800-447-4278 to make payment arrangements. Parents can also contact HFS to make payment arrangements through our website at http://www.ilchildsupport.com/contactus.html
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. In September 2007, the program received the Commissioner’s Award of Excellence in Performance from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.
In addition to the partnership with Illinois Child Support and DNR, over the past four years, Gov. Blagojevich launched a number of other 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 Division 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% 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 Department of Natural Resources for partnering with us to help Illinois families and further the dramatic improvements to our child support division under this Administration," said Barry Maram, Director of HFS. "By working with other agencies and continuing to find ways to identify parents who owe, we show 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 Governor Blagojevich has implemented since taking office.
The Deadbeat Parents Website: In November 2003, Governor Blagojevich launched the Deadbeat Parents Website, www.ilchildsupport.com/deadbeats
that 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 website.
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 DCSE an $8.6 million federal bonus for meeting federal child support indicators.
Illinois improved the percentage of establishment of legal parentage by 4% in federal fiscal year 2006, while also increasing cases with support orders from 60% to 67% 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%, from $2.62 to $3.84.
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 website, www.hfs.illinois.gov