Kansas seeks to collect more child support with ad campaign

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is hoping a new ad campaign will lead to millions of dollars of new child support collections.

The campaign, which was announced at a news conference Friday, will urge businesses to report new hires for collection purposes, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. Kansas law currently requires employers to provide the names of newly hired workers to the Department of Labor within 20 days of the hire. The workers are checked against a list of individuals owing support, and if a positive match is reported, the state begins withholding support from the worker’s paycheck.

But the law provides no penalties for businesses that don’t report new hires, and the Department for Children and Families said a “large percentage” of employers aren’t doing so. Officials couldn’t provide an exact percentage.

“When employers report their new hires in a timely fashion, it also helps cut down on fraud, and we’ve made a big focus on helping to prevent and combat fraud in our division,” Labor Secretary Lana Gordon said.

Trisha Thomas, DCF child support services director, said employers are typically only notified of the requirement to report new hires when they become a business. The advertising campaign is about educating businesses, she said.

“We look at our current support based around other states and we’ve seen in other states, once you get a larger number reporting, you get a substantial increase in child support collections based upon more income withholdings and more new hires,” Thomas said.

The campaign has a budget of about $50,000, but more could be invested if it is found to be effective. The advertisements feature bright colors and several taglines. One tagline reads: “You can’t make sure Kansas kids get to school on time. But you can make sure they have the support they need.”

The advertising campaign comes after Kansas privatized its child support collection system in 2013. After the first year of privatization, Kansas did a worse job collecting current child support, with collections dropping to 54.04 percent in federal fiscal year 2014 from 55.79 percent in FY 2013.

DCF officials have said the focus since privatization has been on cost-effectiveness and that the agency is now turning to increasing overall collections.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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