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DCFS was recently awarded a record $7,459,128 in performance incentive funds by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement as a result of the agency's performance in FFY 2009. DCFS' award amount has more than doubled since the award system began in 2000.
"Consistent child support payments are particularly crucial for families striving for self-sufficiency," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "The Department is committed to providing child support services to families and strives to ensure that children receive the support they need and deserve. Every dollar of our performance incentive award will be reinvested in the child support program to continue to improve services to families. It is through a strong partnership among our staff, the employer community, district attorneys, birthing hospitals, and our federal partners that we continue to have a successful program in Louisiana."
In 2010, DCFS' Child Support Enforcement (CSE) managed 285,824 child support cases, established paternity for 28,290 children and established 21,912 support orders. The total collections of $365 million in FFY 2010 were made in 135,274 cases and represent a five percent increase over the past two years, up from $346 million in FFY 2008. More than $262.8 million of the collected funds in FFY 2010 went to current child support obligations. The remaining $102.2 million was applied to past unpaid child support obligations.
Federal performance incentive awards are based on five performance indicators including paternity establishment, obligation establishment, current support, collections on arrears cases and cost effectiveness.
In addition to exceeding last year's collections, Louisiana bucked a trend of decreased collections from the previous year according to a report from the Government Accounting Office released last month. The report attributes the decline seen around the country to the troubled economy and high unemployment.
Louisiana sited strong partnerships, aggressive collections, online application to register for child support and data sharing between state and federal agencies as reasons for the increase.
Johnson hopes that Louisiana will continue to see increasing child support collections next year due to a measure introduced by former Senator Nick Gautreaux and passed during the 2010 Legislative Session requiring casinos to cross-reference winners of more than $1,200 with a database of individuals owing past due child support debt. Johnson said the collection of casino winnings will assist the department in collecting child support arrears that currently exceed $1 billion.
For more information on Child Support Enforcement, visit www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/CSE.