Tuesday, September 12, 2000
Support checks late this month
County blames new state system
By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer
As many as 16,000 child support checks from Hamilton County this month are going out late.
That means families who were waiting for a check Thursday might still be waiting today.
We are four business days behind, Carol Watson, Hamilton County Child Support section chief, said Monday. We process 3,000 to 4,000 checks every day.
While state law requires payments to be sent no more than 48 hours after the county receives them, officials are blaming the law for the delay.
They say glitches in a new statewide payment processing system left them paying checks Monday that were dated Sept. 5.
What's more, they told county commissioners that problems in implementing the new state system could cost Ohio more than $50 million in federal fines.
We have heard rumors that the state could be failing to meet the deadline, Ms. Watson said.
The state has until Oct. 1 to put the new processing system into place or face the doubling of a $28 million fine imposed last year for being out of compliance with the 1988 Family Support Act.
I don't even know what to say to that, said Jon Allen, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. The federal government will be the judge of whether we made it, not Hamilton County.
The county now collects support payments from parents and forwards those payments on to a child's guardian. Starting in October the state will be responsible for processing those payments.
Mr. Allen said all of Ohio's 88 counties have been converted to the new system. After Oct. 1, federal officials will review it and make a decision about whether it meets Family Support Act standards.
The penalty is based on a percentage of how much federal money the state took in during the year. Last year's fine was $28 million and it could be as much as $56 million this year, Mr. Allen said.
We are hopeful we will meet the deadline, Mr. Allen said.
But he did agree there have been problems with the system, including two computer crashes that kept the system down for almost two days since Aug. 29 and a planned down on Sept. 1.
We have heard from some of the counties, he said, adding that the state did have its computer up on Saturday to allow counties extra time to process payments.
After Oct. 1, the county will process only child support payments made by cash, credit cards and debit cards.
Ms. Watson said when the county did not have to rely on the state, extra staff could be brought in and computers could be available on weekends to ensure prompt payments.
I don't have any authority over the state, she said.
Gore visit today centers on schools
Bush-Gore plans for education
Indiana still loves Knight
Driver faces judge today in boy's death
Molester priest must stay in prison
Port authority has go-ahead
Airport opponents change tune
Episcopal school director appointed
Many guess wrong on education survey
Orientation today for online school
Pig Parade: His Dreams Took Him on a Colorful Journey
PULFER: These little piggies go to market
UC program puts interns in schools
Interns feel the sting of school budget cuts
KIESEWETTER: Dr. Laura's TV show inoffensive
Channel 5 completes news staff
GET TO IT
Latest 'Redwall' engrossing journey
Scam, novel fall short
What's happening at local bookstores this week
KNIPPENBERG: Chefs cause a stir with non-stop party menu Don't chefs ever sleep? Here they were, 21 of them, up early prepping food for Saturday's Gourmet Sensation, the Hospice benefit that flies in 20 of the best for a grazing event.
Bus riders get break
Catholic schools set fund target
Critics: Dog laws outdated, ignored
'Guide' focuses on birds
Legal immunity pondered
Murder plea ends anguish
Murder trial begins for dad in daughter's death
Newport pursues Monmouth renewal
Ohio guide to nursing homes will be on Internet next year
Support checks late this month
Teen gets detention in '99 crash
Tourist train manager steaming