CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Secretary of State Jesse White today announced that under a new program to collect unpaid child support, over $1 million has been collected for custodial parents. Under the partnership announced earlier this year, driver’s licenses of non-custodial parents who do not pay child support are suspended. Since the program was implemented, $1.3 million has been collected from 3,082 non-custodial parents.
“Nothing is more difficult than raising a child and providing for a family. For single parents, that can be even more difficult when non-custodial parents do not contribute financially. In Illinois, we are using innovative and effective ways to make sure parents and children receive the financial support they deserve,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This announcement clearly shows that we are making excellent progress in child support. We are sending a message to non-custodial parents that they will be held accountable for not meeting their financial responsibilities.”
“This partnership is furthering our mission of ensuring the safety and improving the lives of children and families statewide,” said Secretary White. “We work to make sure drivers on the road act responsibly, and that responsibility extends to providing the necessary support for their children. If drivers fail to meet their child support obligations, they now risk losing their driving privileges.”
Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, parents who fail to pay child support may have their Illinois driver’s license suspended through a new, administrative process. In Illinois, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) provides child support enforcement services to more than 550,000 Illinois families. Under the new law, HFS first mails warning notices to parents who have Illinois driver’s licenses and who are not meeting their child support obligations. If the delinquent parent owes $2,500 or more in unpaid support and does not contact HFS to begin making payments, their name is submitted to the Secretary of State’s office. If parents do not begin making payments, their driver’s licenses will be suspended in 60 days.
Parents who are not paying their child support can avoid license suspension simply by calling HFS at 1-800-447-4278 and making arrangements to begin making payments.
“This latest success is a product of this administration’s outstanding child support enforcement program,” said HFS Director Barry S. Maram. “The Department continues to do whatever it takes to make sure that non-custodial parents are providing the financial support that their children need and deserve. Through the productive partnerships we have forged with other state agencies and offices, we are sending a message to parents that if they don’t meet their obligations to their children, we will find them where they work and where they play, and collect owed child support through whatever appropriate means necessary, including denying them a driver’s license.”
Administrative suspension of driver’s licenses for failure to pay support is used in more than 20 states and is a highly successful enforcement tool. Some of the states reporting successful programs using this enforcement method are: Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington.
Driver’s license suspension programs gain collections for families when the non-custodial parent is not engaged in traditional wage or salary work and fails to make regular payments of support. Self-employed parents, parents who work for cash and contractors are among those who may be at risk if they do not pay their child support regularly.
As a result of Gov. Blagojevich’s commitment to using innovative programs like the driver’s license suspension program to collect unpaid child support, Illinois has made great progress. In fiscal year 2007, Illinois child support collections reached $1.22 billion, an increase of more than 7 percent from the $1.14 billion record-breaking collections for the state in fiscal year 2006. In 2001, by comparison, $726 million was collected.
As a result, Illinois is being recognized as a national leader in child support enforcement. In September 2007, Illinois was honored by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement with a Commissioner’s Award of Excellence for High Performance. This award recognizes Illinois for performance in all areas of the national strategic plan for child support. In August 2006, Illinois was named the 2006 Most Improved Program in the country by the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA). The NCSEA recognizes outstanding achievements in child support enforcement and the 2006 award was given to the State of Illinois’ program for its increased collections and new programs. Just seven years ago, Illinois was ranked among the worst programs in the country.
Child support enforcement services are available to any parent who needs assistance in establishing legal parentage, establishing child support or medical support, or enforcing support. Some enforcement tools, like interception of income tax refunds, are available only to customers of the child support enforcement program. To register for free child support enforcement services, parents must complete and sign an application. Applications are available online at http://www.ilchildsupport.com/.