Wednesday, March 07, 2001

State asks for more cash for child-support system

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A state request for an additional $7 million for Ohio's troubled child support program has caught the attention of a committee reviewing the system.

        The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services asked the State Controlling Board to approve the request. The request increases contracts for three companies working on the state's Support Enforcement Tracking System from $29 million to $35.7 million.

        It also asks for $912,000 to upgrade software used by the system.

        The federally mandated system tracks collections and child support payments.

        The request was made Friday, before the department's director, Jacqueline Romer-Sensky, resigned after weeks of controversy about delays in child-support payments.

        Gov. Bob Taft announced Saturday that a committee would review several areas of the department. One of those is the SETS system.

        The request could be changed, postponed or pulled from the controlling board agenda, said Jim Samuel, a spokesman for Jim Conrad, administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation.

        Mr. Taft appointed Mr. Conrad to oversee the department until a new director is found.

        Ms. Romer-Sensky's resignation came days after a national advocacy group, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, based in Toledo, sued, saying said the state illegally withheld millions of dollars in child support payments from needy families.

        The state has acknowledged that it might owe parents about $6 million in back child support. ACES said the amount could be as much as $13 million.


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