Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Child support system changing

Officials fear new computer will slow payments

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        On Friday, all of Hamilton County's 78,000 child support cases will be converted to a statewide computer system that officials fear will slow cash payments to parents who really need the money.

        The state is being forced to have all 88 counties on the Support Enforcement Tracking System (SETS) by October under threat of millions of dollars in fines.

        Hamilton County will be just the second metropolitan county to convert.

        Even if everything goes smoothly, parents receiving child support can expect a couple of days delay before checks hit the mailbox, because checks that used to be cut in Hamilton County will now come from Columbus.

        Some other counties have found checks made out in wrong amounts, sent to wrong addresses.

        In some cases, the checks aren't sent at all because of foul-ups with new case numbers or dozens of other problems.

        Don Thomas, director of the county's Department of Human Services, said backup plans are in place:

        • About 10 new employees have been added to the DHS call center in case there is an influx of calls related to SETS problems. Montgomery County, the only other metro county to convert, had a 600 percent increase in incoming calls after it switched to SETS.

        • Provident Bank has agreed to write checks for the county in the event that the SETS system breaks down and does not send out checks.

        • Talbert House will issue checks on the spot if an individual falls two weeks behind on receiving child support and meets certain financial criteria. Commissioners have allocated $900,000 to cover these potential expenses.

        • A new phone line, 946-SETS, has been added.

        • A videotape, which explains SETS, has been mailed to 100,000 households.

        Mr. Thomas said Hamilton County's caseload will be the largest number of cases to date being converted to the new program at one time. Three weeks later, Cuyahoga County's 80,000 will convert.

        “We think there could be disruption of service through the end of the year,” Mr. Thomas said.

        The idea behind SETS is that it will be easier to track deadbeat parents across county and state lines if the entire nation is hooked into one system.

        That will make it easier to force collection from those parents, the theory goes.

        But Hamilton County officials think their child support system is pretty good.

        They fear that residents here will find SETS a degradation of service and that they will have less ability to correct mistakes the system is bound to make.


Area wins big in capital plan
Markets rebound from rout
Valuable violin goes to auction
DNA helps find African roots
Many Ohioans find e-returns less taxing
Faux fax fails to free Ohio strangler
Her dying words accuses husband
Court upholds ruling in Culberson case
Getting Son of Beast ready to roll
Stories, razzing and affection are a lunchtime ritual for father and sons
Video guru gets jump on HDTV with 'Water's Edge'
A Journey of faith
CFT sues charter schools
- Child support system changing
Angela Cook earns respect of all
Driver jailed and fired
Ex-board member: Charter school regulations lax
Four schools sued by teachers union
Guardsmen come home today
Health issues event focuses on minorities
Lawyer's ouster sought in transracial-adoption case
Loveland group pushing to save park
Math course moves along step by step
Miami groups build dreams
Miami University job fair popular among employers
Middletown board debate boils over
Pete Rose's mother dies
Plan to move Fenwick forums' focus
Planning office expected to return
Rogers won't appeal testing requirement
Tenant charged in death of woman
Tristate News Summary
Warren schools lose administrator
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book