Local News

State Calls on New Phone System for Child Support Office

Posted July 24, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— There is good news for people having problems contacting the state's child support office. North Carolina has decided to upgrade the agency's antiquated phone system, hopefully providing relief for frustrated callers.

When callers finally get through to theN.C. Child Support Enforcement Office, they often get disconnected. Callers and state employees say they are frustrated.

"There will be times when I pick up the phone and it sometimes clicks off, but it's not that people are hanging up on them," customer service representative Deanne Stewart said.

"The problem that child support enforcement is encountering currently is that this system lacks the ability to allow the callers to get through, and there aren't enough people to answer," said Linda McQueen of theN.C. Office of Information Technology Services.

The child support office gets as many as 1,500 calls per hour -- too many for the 10-year-old phone system to handle.

State lawmakers have approved funding to create a new child support customer service center. The complex will be based in Martin County, housing twice as many phone lines and employees when it opens in December.

Child support managers hope the new system will improve their relationship with the public.

"We did not enjoy being unable to respond anymore than they enjoyed us being unable to respond. We want to help people answer their questions and solve whatever problems we can," state child support director Barry Miller said.

The stateDivision of Motor Vehiclesadopted a similar phone system and has given it high marks.