Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2002
ATTORNEY GENERAL CORNYN ANNOUNCES RECORD-BREAKING $1.4 BILLION IN CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTIONS
Statewide Collections Have Increased 86 Percent Under Cornyn's Leadership
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn announced today that annual child support collections exceeded $1.4 billion for the first time in the history of the Texas child support program. The $1.409 billion collected during the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31 represents an 86 percent increase over the $757 million collected in 1998, the last state fiscal year before Attorney General Cornyn took office.
This year's collections exceeded the $1.23 billion collected last year by $179 million. Based on the latest figures, child support collections during Attorney General Cornyn's four-year term will equal $4.7 billion - that will match the total amount collected during the preceding 15 years of oversight of the Texas child support program by the attorney general's office.
"Improving the child support program became my highest priority when I took office as Attorney General three-and-a-half years ago. With the help of a dedicated staff, we have turned the program around. More children than ever are getting the financial support they need to succeed in life. Helping children today will pay dividends for all Texans for generations to come," said Attorney General Cornyn.
The Child Support Division in the attorney general's office uses every available tool to enforce a parent's legal obligation to pay child support. Parents who fall behind risk interception of income tax refunds, seizure of assets held in financial institutions and suspension of driver, professional and recreational licenses.
The attorney general's office demonstrates effective management of tax dollars by collecting $7 in child support for every $1 spent. This represents a 45 percent improvement over state fiscal year 1998, when the cost-effectiveness ratio was $4.83 to $1.
The attorney general's office differentiates between "dead beat" and "dead broke" parents. "Dead beat" parents have the financial resources to take responsibility for their children but refuse to do so. These parents risk arrest and jail time for disobeying a court's order to pay child support. Non-custodial parents lacking the means to earn a living and pay child support are considered to be "dead broke." The Attorney General's office works with local workforce development boards and non-profit organizations to provide job training and employment services to parents who need help finding a job.
Last month the Child Support Division was recognized by the National Child Support Enforcement Association for exemplifying the best in child support enforcement in the areas of service delivery and community outreach.
In July 2002, the Child Support Division received the 2002 Golden Heart Award from the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support (ACES), a national child support advocacy organization, for the division's assistance to disadvantaged children.
Customer service is another top priority for the Child Support Division. When Attorney General Cornyn assumed office in January 1999, the Child Support Division operated a single statewide customer service call center. In addition to calls made directly to the call center, calls to local child support offices were automatically routed to the call center, creating a tremendous backlog. In a typical month, only 14 percent of the 800,000 calls to a customer service representative were answered. Under the Cornyn administration, the call centers and field offices answer 96 percent of the 500,000 monthly calls within forty seconds, a dramatic improvement over the 14 percent call answer rate of three and a half years ago.
The Child Support Division created a Child Support Interactive Web site to improve customer access to information and services. Accessed from the main Attorney General Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us or directly from http://childsupport.oag.state.tx.us, the public can use the site to obtain information about the child support program and apply for services. For custodial parents, Child Support Interactive provides dates and locations of pending court hearings, notification that genetic testing results are available, and a record of the last 12 payments. In only one year, visits to the Web site have increased 140 percent from 196,403 monthly visits in August 2001 to 430,171 customer visits in August 2002. The interactive web site has received numerous awards for its innovative use of technology. This month the Council of State Governments, a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster excellence in state government, selected Child Support Interactive for the 2002 Innovations Award for the Southern Region.
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