Bryant Proposes Tougher Child Support Collection Methods

By: Mike McDaniel Email
By: Mike McDaniel Email

On stage at the Neshoba County Fair, Gov. Phil Bryant laid out a plan and a message to Mississippi parents who currently pay or should be paying child support.

"If you have a child, you need to be prepared to support that child,” Bryant said.

Bryant says too often those responsible for paying feel they can get away with not paying and in some cases it works.

To fix the problem and create a better system, Bryant is asking the Department of Human Services to step in.

"The old system we have in place now is very cumbersome," said Bryant.

Bryant says currently there's about $305 million in outstanding child support payments. With better technology now available, Bryant says services will be reworked while at the same time quickening payouts to those who depend on them.

There's even a move to tap into federal tax returns for those who aren't paying.

"The individuals that we are trying to identify that have not stepped forward to take responsibility for their child need to know that there's going to be an extra effort by this administration to make sure that we track them down and hold them accountable," the governor said.

DHS is currently working to implement the plan which eliminates duplication of services, while maintaining staffing.

DHS had no comment about the plan other than a statement from executive director Rickey Berry: "This change will maximize resources, increase efficiency and expedite delivery of services to clients while preserving vital front line employees in our county offices."

By increasing collections, Bryant says the state can even save money. A payment, he says, could be the difference in whether a child is on the Medicaid or CHIPS program.

Bryant says legislative action will be needed to usher in money, new technology and additional manpower. He said the investment is worth considering.

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