State Tells Company to Fix Child Support System or Pay
Posted November 29, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — The state is taking action against the company which many people believe made a mess of the new centralized child support system. By the end of the week, Systems and Methods Incorporated could face a major fine if it does not fix the problems.
The state has sent SMI a letter that alleges the company failed to live up to its contract. SMI has five days to get things straight or face fines of $9,500 per day dating back to October 1.
The state owes Wendy Sloan nearly $500 in child support. Sloan says the state's letter threatening to take action against SMI does not really solve the problem.
"It's good and well, but it still does not get the funds into the hands of the parents that have to feed and clothe our children that are without now," Sloan says.
The letter from theDepartment of Health and Human Servicesstates that: "SMI has breached the contract by its continuing substantial and material failures to perform. The Agency hereby demands an immediate cure of the breach."
The state says that if the company does not fix the problems within five days it could be fined a total of $399,000.
At a meeting with the state November 19, SMI's owner defended the company.
"I don't think we have any responsibility or blame for the implementation requirements. We reacted, maybe not wisely, but it certainly isn't our fault that we only had six months to bring up a system that should have taken eight, 10, or 12 months to do," said Robert Stone.
Two months into the process, parents are skeptical that SMI can meet the state's deadline.
"I don't see that this is something that can be corrected within five days," Sloan says.
Local parents have started a chapter of ACES, a group focused on making sure parents get their child support. They plan to hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Governor's Mansion Wednesday night to show their concern over what this ordeal has done to families.