State Representative Laura Hoydick (R-120) today submitted testimony to the legislature's Judiciary Committee in support of a bill she has introduced aimed at improving Connecticut's collection rate for past-due child support payments. The bill, SB 458, An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force to Study Methods for Improving the Collection of Past Due Child Support. The legislation is the product of work from the Task Force to Study Collection of Past Due Child Support, which examined ways to collect delinquent child support, which Hoydick served on.
"Connecticut has a consistently poor record in collecting delinquent child support compared to other states, and a large part of that is due to poor practices and outdated technology," said Rep. Hoydick. "Our Task Force has identified a key number of areas where child support collection can be dramatically improved by implementing some new technologies and policies currently in place in states that are successful in this area."
Hoydick said that the amount of uncollected child support in Connecticut is estimated to be $1.5 billion, a debt that represents great hardship and stress on Connecticut families and children. In Fiscal Year 2012, Connecticut collected only 57.8% of all current support due to families with minor children (a federal performance measure); Connecticut ranked last among all New England states on this performance measure, and ranked 38th in the nation for collecting current child support.
"We are using a legacy computer system from 1993 which is inadequate in keeping up with the more than 200,000 child support cases," said Hoydick. "Connecticut has no web-based services for families such as on-line applications or on-line case and payment information. Without an electronic document management reporting system or dashboard staff must manage their caseloads by dealing with paper records."
Hoydick noted that Pennsylvania, which is ranked first in the nation for child support collection, uses highly automated systems that expedite case processing, encourage a focus on difficult-to-collect cases, and target cases based on the federal performance measures. The bill seeks to implement procedures similar to those of Pennsylvania by using data-driven case management tools, mobile and online tools, a paternity tracking system, automated interfaces, and an automated case closure and order modification computer system.
Additionally, the bill seeks to increase special police officers from 6 to 8 for the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) for the Department of Social Services (DSS) to service capias mittimus warrants for child support collection. These officers would have access to the use of the Connecticut online enforcement communication teleprocessing system.
Other items in the bill include $7.4 million in funding to DSS to:
Fund $7.4 million to DSS to:
Purchase Web Based Customer Service Portal [estimated cost $2.5 million]Purchase Graphic User Interface [estimated cost $4.2 million]Purchase Replacement Servers and associated hardware [estimated cost $500,000]Begin the Planning Process for Replacement of the Child Support Enforcement case management system [estimated cost = $200,000]Purchase of a subscription to a Lexis-Nexis product called Accurint, a web-based investigative tool used by other state child support programs (including Massachusetts) to locate obligors and their assets. Estimated cost is $2,000/month or $12,000/year.
The cost of these technological recommendations would be $7.4 million, and the cost of the 15-20 new support enforcement officers would be $750,000-$1 million. The General Fund would be reimbursed 66% of these costs from the federal government, with a net cost to Connecticut approximately $2.5 million for technology and $340,000 for the new officers.
The legislation remains before the Judiciary Committee for action there. This session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns midnight, Wednesday, May 7th.