News Release



For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000

For Immediate Release

July 8, 1999

Steinhaus Announces Child Support Collection Success
$ 7.8 million collected already in '99

Poughkeepsie, NY - County Executive William R. Steinhaus, along with Commissioner of Social Services Robert Allers, today announced the increasing effectiveness of the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) is helping to decrease the number of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program caseloads in the county. Due to stepped up cooperation between the Steinhaus Administration and the Dutchess County Family Court, the amount of child support collected from non-custodial parents in TANF cases is up, despite a smaller number of cases.

"Our aggressive efforts, coupled with other welfare reform initiatives, has resulted in achieving this goal," Steinhaus pointed out. "When more non-custodial parents are held accountable and made to honor their financial obligations to their children, our property taxpayers and society as a whole no longer must assume the burden of this responsibility. When parents are negligent in their child support, it hurts the family, the children, the community and the taxpayers."

This administration has made it a priority that DSS forge a working partnership with the Family Court in the county in order to expedite child support cases. "As we initiated closer working relationships between the various branches of county government, DSS and the Family Court agreed it was important for petitioners to access DSS and Family Court in a timely fashion," said Steinhaus. "The Family Courts responded by increasing the amount of time Hearing Officers would be available in Dutchess County. The increased court time resulted in an increase of DSS petitions filed, and the increase in petitions resulted in more court orders and a corresponding increase in monies collected."

Through this cooperative effort and regular on-going meetings, the Steinhaus administration and Family Court work together to resolve cases and speed up the court process. The result has been a total of nearly $7.8 million collected so far this year when during the same period last year, collections only amounted to just over $6.2 million. The substantial increase collected from a smaller pool of non-custodial parents was made possible by DSS' ability to pursue negligent parents. "We have made it a priority to develop an arsenal of methods available to us in our battle against negligent parents," Steinhaus commented. "Among them is the ability to suspend someone's drivers license, freeze their bank account, or even withhold their passport."

From 1997 to 1999, for instance, there were 1,929 cases in Dutchess County where drivers licenses were suspended due to the request of DSS. The 1,929 cases represent back child support totaling $6,755,095. Since the suspended licenses went into effect, 558 of the cases paid a total of $1,250,275. "Once the amount of child support collected for parents on TANF equals or exceeds the TANF monies they receive, they are removed from the Social Services' rolls," Steinhaus stated.   Any by pursuing cases which are not on TANF, we can prevent others from going on temporary assistance."

"In part due to our successful economic development policies and strategies, and in part to initiatives like this, the number of families which qualify for help through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program have shown a steady drop in recent years," Steinhaus commented. In January of 1997 the TANF caseload was 1,817, in 1998 it dropped by 11% to 1,620 and in 1999 it dropped further to 1,328, or 27%, over the two-year period. Meanwhile, child support collected in TANF cases increases 150% when comparing the month of April 1997 and April 1998 and another 147% by April 1999, a total increase of 219% for the same two-year period.

"Our partnership with Family Court has proven very effective and has made our job easier," Allers; said. "Their supportive cooperation has made these results possible."

The Federal Welfare Reform Act of 1996 established that all those who collect public assistance must cooperate with the Child Support Enforcement unit.


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