CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that for the fourth consecutive year, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has collected a record amount of child support for Illinois children. The $1.33 billion collected for custodial parents during FY08 is a more than 8 percent increase over the $1.22 collected during FY07. Success is due primarily to innovative programs geared toward holding non-custodial parents accountable.
“During these difficult economic times, many families throughout Illinois and across the country are struggling to make ends meet. For single parents, that struggle can be made even more difficult when non-custodial parents do not contribute financially,” said Governor Blagojevich. “I am proud of our innovation and success in developing new methods to collect child support from non-custodial parents. And in Illinois we will continue to develop new programs to make sure that parents meet their financial obligations so that children receive the support they deserve.”
During FY08, the Governor announced two new programs that provide powerful incentives to non-custodial parents to meet their responsibilities to their children. Since joining the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in September 2007 to expand efforts in denying hunting and fishing permits for parents who do not pay child support, HFS has collected over $217,000.
HFS is also working with Secretary of State Jesse White’s office in a new effort to suspend driver’s licenses for parents who are not meeting their child support obligations. Almost $5 million in child support has been collected for families since the program started in January.
“For the past four years, we have continued to set records in Child Support collections in Illinois. Most parents in Illinois meet their obligations without enforcement, but for those who don't, we are sending a message that there will be consequences. Whether we post your picture online, revoke your driver's license or deny a hunting or fishing permit, in Illinois your child's welfare comes first,” said HFS Director Barry S. Maram. “Through the leadership of Governor Blagojevich, we have been able to develop innovative programs to hold parents accountable, and clearly those methods are working.”
In addition to new and expanded programs, HFS continues to see success through other effective methods, such as the Deadbeat Parent Web site and the Governor’s New Hire Outreach program. Since November 2003, over $524,000 has been collected from the most egregious child support evaders through the Deadbeat Parent Web site, which is used as a last resort mechanism to collect child support from people who would otherwise not make payments. The Governor’s New Hire Outreach program, which started in 2005, collected more than $47 million during FY08.
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 and collections continue to increase. 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/