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Child Support Problems Continue to Plague Parents; State Extends Phone Hours

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RALEIGH — The state says most of the kinks have been worked out of its newchild support payment system. Some parents say that is news to them, because they are still waiting for their money.

Michelle Hootman says her two children, Jonathan and Alex, may be the ones paying for the state's child support mistakes.

Hootman says she is missing $1,400 in child support payments even though money is deducted directly from her ex-husband's paycheck.

"Either the county has it or the state has it. Somewhere there is that missing money," she says.

As a result, Hootman says she may have to pull her children out of day care.

"I wouldn't even be able to work because I couldn't afford anywhere else that would accommodate me," says Hootman.

Lois Nilsen, of theDepartment of Health and Human Services, says many of the state's past payment problems have been corrected.

"Right now centralized collections is really going very well," says Nilsen. "We get thousands and thousands of transactions coming into our offices every day totaling millions of dollars. Ninety-nine percent of them -- better than 99 percent -- go out within 48 hours."

Nilson admits that one percent can add up to 200 unidentified checks every day. She says centralized collections works to match those checks up as quickly as possible.

The phones have been so busy at the Department of Health and Human Services that a second toll-free number has been added.

If you have any questions regarding your child support payments call877-531-1818or800-992-9457.

Staffers are available to answer phones from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Hootman says she is petitioning the state to allow her ex-husband to send child support directly to her. But that would leave no way to make sure his payments arrive on time or to enforce his payments at all.

"I'd rather depend on him than on the state because the state has failed me," says Hootman.

The state says Hootman's checks have been mailed, and were delayed due to the snow, and a high volume of checks that came in afterward. They say the first check was delayed because of snow and the high volume of checks that came in afterward.

They say the second one just took longer to process. -->


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