August 4th, 2015 (WAUSEON-OH) Did you know that one in three children are involved in Ohio’s child support program? On August 4th, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners signed a proclamation designating August as Child Support Awareness Month along with many other counties throughout Ohio.
Why is child support important? The Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) child support program impacts more children than any other public program, other than public education. Child support is among the most important obligations to a child as it affects the quality of life of over one million of Ohio’s children. Child support can make a significant impact in managing food, shelter, child care, transportation, clothing, medical and dental expenses. In 2015, the Fulton County CSEA has a caseload of 2215.
How child support helps CSEA provides a wide-range of family support services. Either parent, grandparents and other caregivers may apply for services. The CSEA can assist with establishing paternity (legal fatherhood), establishing a child support and medical support order, case management services, including collecting child support payments, linking parents to employment opportunities, community and governmental services, enforcing orders and locating parents as well as education and outreach about the child support program.
How does the CSEA collect child support? The CSEA works with parents, grandparents and other caretakers, employers and many other partners so that the child support can be a source of income for children. Most child support payments are collected through an income withholding order where the employer, or other source of income, deducts the child support payment from each check issued to a parent ordered to pay support. The CSEA can also: seize federal and state tax refunds and funds available in bank accounts, suspend professional licenses, drivers licenses and recreational licenses, issue orders to collect arrears (past due support), report arrears balance to credit reporting agencies, and issue administrative liens. They can also pursue other enforcement actions. Fulton County collected $6.6 million in child support in 2014.
Gearing Up-What’s New Locally- In efforts to continue to provide diverse opportunities for parents to be successful in their child support obligations, Fulton County CSEA instituted the Fulton County Offender Re-Entry program in 2014. “There are often barriers to successes that people face when they are released from incarceration,” states LuAnn Stiriz, Fulton County CSEA supervisor. The re-entry program offers services that can bridge a gap by providing a ‘one-stop’ shop for re-entry into the workplace.
Barriers can include lack of transportation, financial difficulties, absence of a diploma, job seeking skills, and mental health and substance abuse. “As we are approaching the one year anniversary of this program in August, we are pleased to report that nearly half of the participants of the Re-entry program thus far are now employed full time, or self-employed,” notes Amy Simon-Metz, Director of the Fulton County Job and Family Services. This program is held once per month at the Robert Fulton Building. The next program is on August 19th.