The state Department of Children & Family Services received about $8 million in federal money to improve child support collections as part of a federal Child Support Enforcement Incentive award, the state agency announced Tuesday.
The federal $8 million incentive to improve collection of back child support payments was increased from previous fiscal years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave the department, called DCFS, $7.5 million in Fiscal Year 2010 and $7.4 million in Fiscal Year 2009 through the incentive award program, according to an agency news release.
“Each dollar of this award is reinvested in our efforts to collect current and back-owed child support on behalf of custodial parents taking on the responsibility of raising a child,” said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier in a prepared statement.
One reason for the increase in the federal award was the amoung of back child support the agency collects, said DCFS spokesman Trey Williams said.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, the state collected $385 million in support payments, Williams said. More than $269 million of that amount went to current child support obligations. The remaining $116 million was applied to arrears cases of unpaid child support obligations. The total amount of child support in arrears is a little over $1.3 billion as of Tuesday, he said.
The families who are due child support but not receiving it often find themselves needing state support, Williams said.
The agency has several programs to enforce the collection of back child support payments, including suspension licenses as well as grabbing tax refunds and casino winnings, Williams said. One example, he said, was intercepting more than $7.4 million from payments made by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
The state Child Support Enforcement division managed 293,112 child support cases, established paternity for 28,057 cases and established 22,284 support orders.
August is National Child Support Awareness Month. For more information on Child Support Enforcement or to apply, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/CSE.