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Maryland announces new director of child support enforcement

In an effort to transform Maryland to a national leader in child support collection, a new director of the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration was appointed. The news comes three months after an audit found that the state failed to collect more than $1.7 billion in owed child support payments.

While Maryland law allows officials to seize funds directly from delinquent parents' bank accounts once they owe more than $500 in back support, the audit found that Maryland's child support enforcement agency often waited until parents owed more than $2,500 before attempting to collect. In all, the state could have seized $33.6 million from the accounts of 25,000 parents, but failed to do so. Additionally, the state failed to garnish wages for about 9,000 parents, which could have potentially netted an approximate $88 million in child support.

Maryland's Secretary of Human Resources hopes that the new director would be able to push the state's child support collection ranking into the top 10 within 18 months. An official with Advocates for Youth and Children hailed the appointment, hopeful that the new director will bring a new sense of accountability to the agency. She also called for the implementation of a system that would better allow parents to agree on fair child support payments.

The new director has already announced several preliminary plans to increase the state's child support enforcement capacity, including more effective use of license suspension and wage garnishment.

The new director has his work cut out for him, because custodial parents are entitled to the payments that they are awarded. Those payments help ensure that children have food on the table and are able to keep living a decent life. Custodial parents should not accept a poor performance from the agency established to help them.

Sources: Baltimore Sun, "Maryland names new child support enforcement leader," Andrea F. Siegel, Dec. 19, 2011

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