The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is offering a reprieve for Kansans who face prosecution for failure to pay child support, as an opportunity to help them get back on track with their payments.
DCF’s Child Support Services (CCS) has slated Sept. 25 as Child Support Bench Warrant Amnesty Day statewide to offer parents the chance to begin making payments without facing prosecution. Parents who have bench warrants on their child support cases involving DCF are invited to report to various locations around the state to have their warrants lifted.
By reporting to one of the designated locations and making a payment either of $500 or two months’ worth of support, whichever is the lesser amount, non-custodial parents will have their warrant lifted.
“By lifting these warrants, it’s our goal to get the money the children deserve and help parents get in the routine of making payments,” DCF CSS Director Trisha Thomas said.
DCF offered amnesty in Wichita last year and more than 50 bench warrants were cleared.
Thomas said warrants are used as an enforcement tool when non-custodial parents fail to appear at contempt hearings. Typically, these are issued after numerous other collections attempts have been made or in cases where self-employed, non-custodial parents are believed to be avoiding payments and attempting to hide assets.
Thomas said approximately 40,000 Kansans’ have failed to make their child support payment within the last 45 days. The effects of missed child support are felt by children and families. But DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore also emphasized the positive result of parental involvement when payments are made.
“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 addition to Child Support Bench Warrant Amnesty Day, other efforts to collect child support for Kansas families include:
• The State routinely sends postcards to parents after they fail to make a payment for 45 days, as a reminder with information on how to make a payment.
• DCF recently launched an educational campaign to encourage employers to report new hires to the Kansas Department of Labor. After a new hire is reported, an income withholding order can ensure the court-ordered support goes directly to the custodial parent for the child.
Thomas said the agency is trying to make it easier for those without checking accounts to make payments. Ideas under consideration include kiosks that would accept cash or other forms of payment, and arranging for payments to be made at various stores.