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Newsroom Child support amnesty fair helps parents get back on track

A collaboration among the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and county court systems in Wyandotte, Johnson and Leavenworth County resulted in the collection of $17,936 in back child support last month.

 The 2011 Amnesty Day and Resource Fair in Kansas City, Kansas offered Kansas parents who were the subject of bench warrants for non-payment of child support the chance to get a new start with the courts, make back payments and set up new child support payment schedules. 

 “One of our main focuses is to get regular child support payments in for the benefit of the children,” said Trisha Thomas, director of Child Support Enforcement for SRS. “$17,000 doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but especially in these times, every dollar counts.”

 This was the third child support amnesty fair in Kansas City. It began under the leadership of Wyandotte County Court Trustee Sheryl Bussell, who heard about court systems in other states organizing similar amnesty days. Bussell designed the event to help parents make a new start. In addition to discussing their cases with SRS and the court systems, parents could apply for jobs, inquire about GED and community college opportunities and receive resume assistance at the Workforce Partnership booth. 

 “Everyone got to talk about a lot of things relating to employment and bettering themselves,” Bussell said. 

The event was set up in the Holiday Inn Express at the Legends, purposefully away from courthouses or law enforcement centers to entice parents with bench warrants to attend without fear of arrest. 

The strategy worked so well that parents with bench warrants outside of the three participating counties showed up hoping to work out payment arrangements. One man from Reno County attended and was able to get on the phone with the court system in that county and work out a payment plan with the help of the amnesty fair organizers. 

Overall, approximately 77 people attended the amnesty fair.  Wyandotte collected a total of $2,825.00, Leavenworth collected $400.00 and Johnson collected a total of $14,711.00. The fair was held on Aug. 26. 

SRS hopes to help organize more amnesty fairs around other Kansas locations in the future. A similar event is held annually in Wichita. 

Anyone with questions regarding child support may call 1-888-369-4777, or contact their local court trustee.