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State Working Out Kinks in New Centralized Child Support System

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RALEIGH — If you or someone you know who receives child support is not getting it, you are not alone. A unique program to get checks in the mail is running behind, leaving families who depend on the money in a financial bind.

As of October 1, the federal government requires states to start collecting child support in a central location instead of at county courthouses. On September 24, North Carolina complied, with payments coming in to a location in the Triangle.

Organizers say the new system will be more efficient when the kinks are worked out.

The new N.C.Centralized Child Support Divisionsays if you are waiting on a support check, it should be in the mail. But some clients are not buying it.

"When you call for a week and all you get is a busy signal, and the one time you get through it rings for ten minutes with no one answering," says Eileen Plaks.

Plaks had a rough time getting through to child support on the telephone when the support check for her two teenagers was late.

She finally got her check but says the process was frustrating.

"This time of year, with the kids starting with school, all the new school clothes they needed, school supplies, it was very tight very tense for us," says Plaks.

"It's the second largest automation that N.C Child Support has ever undertaken," says director Barry Miller.

The State Child Support Division is contracting with SMI Systems in Research Triangle Park to handle the centralized collections.

Organizers admit there are kinks to work out, but they have added 15 phone lines and 60 employees to help field questions and find solutions.

"We have made tremendous strides in the last week and are continuing to gain on it. I'm confident that by next week we'll be back on schedule," says Miller.

People who pay child support are supposedly also frustrated because they do not want to be labeled as deadbeats if payments are late.

Ervin Davis pays his child support on time. But when the state failed to forward the money to his ex-wife on time, he says it made him look bad.

"I think they jumped into something before they were organized and ready to go," says parent Ervin Davis. "Just like everything else, too much government involved. Something simple, they're making it complicated."

You are supposed to get a payment envelope and coupon to send with your payment. However if you do not receive one, there areseveral addresseswhere checks can be sent.

For more information yon centralized collections you can call1-877-531-1818.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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