Local News

Parents Still Waiting On Child Support Payments To Buy Christmas Presents

Posted December 22, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— It could be a blue Christmas for thousands of North Carolina children.

The state says its new centralized child support is close to being fixed, but for months, the bills have been piling up. Many parents who received late checks or no checks at all say they can't afford Christmas.

Christmas for the Eatmon family will not be the same this year. That is because the state is behind on Lori Eatmon's child support.

She can barely pay her bills and buy gifts for her three children.

"It's not going to be much this year," Eatmon said. "It's hard knowing you can't give them what they need because the system messed up."

"They ask for something, and you can't get it for them," she said.

Donald Eatmon works to help support his stepchildren, but his paycheck is not enough.

"There are very few gifts under the Christmas tree," Eatmon said. "I'm not worried about us getting anything for Christmas. It's the kids that I'm worried about."

The state says it has paid out more than $125 million in support since the new system went online.

There are still 902 unidentified checks totalling $114,000. However, their office will be closed for the holidays until Tuesday morning.

The state says the system is almost on track, but for parents who have not received their checks, almost does not count.

"We know that people have been inconvenienced," said Mark Van Sciver, a spokesman for theN.C. Department of Health and Human Services. "We're as sorry as we can be on that."

"We think the system is working now, and 99.5 percent of all the money is going to where it needs to be right away," Van Sciver said.

Still, the ordeal cannot extinguish the bright lights of Christmas.

Sixteen-year-old Brandi Eatmon says the most important things do not come under the tree.

"I don't care if I don't get but two or three presents," she said. "That doesn't matter to me. All I know is that everybody in my family loves me."

"That's all that matters to me."