County child support collection above averages

Highland ranked in top 10 medium-small counties in state

By McKenzie Caldwell - [email protected]

More Ohio children are receiving the money they need, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced Wednesday. With the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, the ODJFS said in a press release, Ohio joined an unspecified number of states that collect 70 percent or more of child support owed. According to ODJFS, the national average is 65.8 percent.

Highland County Child Support Administrator Kimberly Case told The Times-Gazette that Highland County Job and Family Services (JFS) currently collects 71.25 percent of current child support, which is support that’s due monthly, and 69.5 percent of past due support, which is child support that became past due because either the payer either wasn’t able to pay or tried to avoid paying, Case said.

In both of these categories, Highland County surpasses the national average.

”Considering the county we’re in as far as employment rates, poverty levels and population, it’s pretty good,” Case said. “When the state looks at our collection rates, they look at all those variables. We are considered in the state a medium-small county, Highland County is in the top 10 to 15 in each performance category for medium-small size counties in the state.”

Case said that Highland County is considered a medium-small county based on how many open child support cases it has. Currently, there are 2,677 open child support cases in Highland County. However, each case can represent multiple children. Highland County JFS serves 8,911 people, Case said, which include both those paying child support and those receiving.

”We don’t just serve the people receiving support,” Case said. “We don’t represent the person paying; we don’t represent the person receiving. We represent both.”

Case said that Highland County JFS is also succeeding in other performance measure areas. Highland County JFS has a 104.8 percent rate of establishing paternity and a 96.61 percent rate of establishing support, both of which are key parts in opening a child support case, Case said.

“It’s pretty amazing that we’re able to locate that many people and get the child support order established,” Case said.

ODJFS said the Office of Child Support created an initiative called Project I-70 to encourage county agencies, like the one in Highland County, to meet the goal of a 70 percent collection rate. ODJFS said that achievement could lead to additional federal funding. Case said it’s impressive that a county like Highland County could achieve such a high collection rate.

”I know child support is a tough term, but when you break it down for the area we’re in and some of the barriers people have, it truly is amazing,” Case said.

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.

Highland ranked in top 10 medium-small counties in state

By McKenzie Caldwell

[email protected]