TOPEKA – 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 (CSS) has slated Aug. 12 as Child Support Bench Warrant Amnesty Day statewide to offer parents the chance to begin making payments without facing prosecution. All counties in the state will participate, except for Sedgwick County, which will hold a separate Amnesty Day on Sept. 9. (Specific locations and times listed below.)
Child Support Bench Warrant Amnesty Day highlights the August observation of Child Support Awareness Month, as proclaimed by Governor Sam Brownback. The annual event brings attention to the importance of involving non-custodial parents in the lives of their children. 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 has offered Amnesty Day in Wichita the past several years, and expanded the offer to the entire state in 2015. Last year, more than 200 bench warrants were cleared statewide.
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 payments 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.”
For the first time, DCF will host a job fair this year at the Shawnee County Courthouse in conjunction with the offering of amnesty on Aug. 12.
In addition to Child Support Bench Warrant Amnesty Day, other efforts to collect child support for Kansas families include:
• Early in 2016, DCF launched a text message campaign to remind all parents who failed to make their child support payment during a 45-day period.
• In August of last year, DCF 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. DCF recently debuted a commercial promoting the reporting of new hires.
Thomas said the agency is trying to make it easier for those without checking accounts to make payments. In the past year, DCF has established payment options through Moneygram, Western Union and PayNearMe, which provide a host of sites across the state where cash payments can be made.
Sam Brownback signs a proclamation designating August as Child Support
Awareness Month. Those in attendance from left to right: Bradley Burke, KDOL
Deputy Secretary and Chief Attorney; James Orth, DCF Child Support Services
(CSS) attorney; Ashley Dexter, DCF CSS Deputy Director; Ali Roberston, DCF CSS
Management Systems Analyst; Governor Brownback,; Dustin Whitaker, Sunflower
Program Manager; Trisha Thomas, DCF CCS Director; Anthony Valenti, Veritas
Program Manager; Tracy Davidson, Young Williams Project Manager.)