Local News

New Child Support Payment System has Parents Waiting, Worrying

Posted October 13, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— A reshuffling of child support collection was supposed to help the people who need the money. Three weeks into the system, those people say getting their checks is still a major hassle.

Last week, the state told WRAL that the problems would be solved by this week. Now they are predicting it could take until at least the middle of next week.

Court clerks used to collect child support in all 100 counties. As of September 24, all payments go to acentral officein Raleigh.

The transition to the new system has been rocky.

"I don't hardly sleep at night. I worry about where I'm getting the next bag of diapers," says Kimberly McCormick.

McCormick depends upon child support to care for her two young sons. She has not received her weekly check in three weeks.

If the money does not come soon, McCormick fears her utilities could be shut off, and she may even be evicted.

"It's my only source of income," she says.

The state is not delivering on promises it made in a media blitz to promote the program.

"One check. One location. Payment made easier. government working better...," states the advertisement.

Payments have been delayed to 40,000 families. The state has diverted 200 child support workers to help unravel the mess and answer questions.

"We again apologize sincerely to all of the people that we've caused inconvenience. It was not our intention and certainly was not part of the plan," says Barry Miller, N.C. Child Support director.

The plan was mandated nationwide by the federal government. By complying, North Carolina will continue to get $400 million a year in federal funding.

That is a small consolation for people like McCormick who needed their check yesterday.

All states were mandated to transition to the centralized collection system by October 1 or risk losing millions of dollars in federal funds.

Sixty six percent of the operating budget for North Carolina's Child Support System comes from the federal government.

The new collection service will perform better, once the kinks are worked out. When the system went online, it processed 10,000 checks every 24-hours. The system can now handle 20,000 checks a day.

If your check is late and you have suffered any hardship, you can call Child Support Enforcement at1-800-992-9457.