The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) hosted a joint news conference on Friday, Aug. 14, to announce a new campaign to promote the collection of child support.
By law, employers must report new hires who reside or work in Kansas to KDOL within 20 days, for the purpose of withholding income to meet any child support obligations the new employee may have.
DCF and KDOL have collaborated with JNA advertising agency on a campaign to educate employers statewide on the importance of reporting their new hires to ensure that children receive the support they need. Efficient reporting expedites collection of child support from parents who change jobs frequently, and quickly locates non-custodial parents to help in establishing paternity and child support orders.
“New hire reporting helps children receive the support they deserve,” KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon said. “Employers serve as key partners in ensuring financial stability for many children and families, and they should take pride in their role.”
Gordon added that new hire reporting also helps to reduce unemployment benefit overpayments and fraud.
DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said that since the child support collection system in Kansas was privatized in 2013, the cost-effectiveness ratio has improved. Now the state hopes to focus on increasing overall collections.
“We know that when non-custodial parents pay their child support, they are more invested in the lives of their children financially and emotionally,” Secretary Gilmore said. “It is our goal to promote healthy families by encouraging that investment.”
In Kansas, more than 70 percent of money collected for child support comes from income withheld by employers. Director of DCF’s Child Support Services Trisha Thomas says that a large percentage of Kansas employers do not currently report their newly-hired employees. There are 175,000 business entities in Kansas, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Nearly 80,000 of them are private-employer establishments, according to KDOL. Approximately 20,000 employers in Kansas report their new hires. Thomas says if employers reported all new hires, a substantial amount of child support would be collected.
“That’s why we’re working with Labor and with the employer community,” Thomas said. “Employers need to understand the importance of submitting new hires and the role they have in helping Kansas families get the support on which they rely.”
Thomas says new hires reporting can be done easily on the KDOL website. Child support payments can be made electronically through the Kansas Payment Center. And in the coming months, a system by which employers can view income withholding orders electronically will be implemented.
“We’re trying to make everything available electronically to make it as easy as possible for employers,” Thomas said.