Economy Takes Toll on Child Support

We recently noticed some interesting statistics on child support collection. Collections are tracking at about four percent behind what they were two years ago. That could mean significantly less for Hamilton County children this year.

In 2007 and 2008, we collected about 65 percent of the dollars owed in child support. This is pretty consistent with what we know: about two third of parents want to do everything they can to support their children and faithfully pay what the courts order.

In 2009, that percentage dropped to 63 percent. This year, it is tracking at about 61 percent.

We collect about $150 million annually. A 4 percent drop would amount to about $6 million less for the children of Hamilton County.

And our collections are only where they are because of unemployment compensation. While still a small percentage of our overall collections, we have collected about 168 percent more from unemployment payments than we did the previous year. If those unemployed parents did not receive that money, those children would not receive their support.

This is just another example of the effects of our economy.

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Child Care Forum Well Attended

Last night, we held a forum with our child care providers to help them receive information about upcoming state changes. It was incredibly well attended, with more than 500 people in the crowd. I am extremely grateful we have such a caring group of providers who want to make sure they have the information they need to continue providing quality care to our county’s children.

We invited a representative from the state of Ohio, which is enacting the changes, as well as a representative from the American Federation of State and County Employees. Child care providers recently became part of this union, and many needed more information about that.

Overall, the meeting went well. Understandably, there was concern about the unknown. But it was nice to improve the dialogue. To my knowledge, no other county in the state is going this far to communicate the changes to the providers. We hope it was helpful.

For those who could not attend, or those who need more information, we have created a special section on our Web site, www.hcjfs.org, where we are aggregating information on the changes.

Troubled Times Make Agency More Relevant than Ever

I recently received a newsletter from the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association that really drove home the point of how important this agency is to this community right now.

The newsletter was full of depressing statistics: Ohio has three of the top 10 poorest cities (Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo) in the United States; teen pregnancy is again on the rise; state revenues are lagging estimates; unemployment continues at a high pace; the food stamp rolls in Ohio have climbed by 42 percent in the past two years and state subsidies to county JFS organizations have been cut drastically over the past two years.

All are grim statistics, especially when considered together. These are the times we live in.

I hope that those in need — whether it be the teen mother whose child is at risk of abuse, the unemployed father who needs to feed his family or the single mother who needs help collecting child support to pay her rent and utilities — can see our agency as a beacon of hope right now. We are an agency that helps, and, at this time, we are needed more than ever.

Choose Your Partner Carefully

I have been busy this week with the launch of our Choose Your Partner Carefully campaign. Hopefully, most of you have heard about it by now.

The goal of the campaign is to educate the community — especially single mothers — about the warning signs a partner may exhibit that could lead to him abusing your child. We have had six abuse deaths in the past five years attributed to mom’s boyfriend. That is 35 percent of all abuse deaths during that period — a rate that is 20 percent higher than the rest of the nation’s.

We have created a Web site, www.KnowTheWarningSigns.com, television and radio commercials and have advertising displayed on billboards and buses. We have received great coverage on the campaign. I will include links at the bottom of this post.

The fact is, just because your boyfriend loves you does not mean he will love your children. And mothers in love don’t always recognize the signs of an abuser. Please take the time to visit our Web site, which has received more than 600 views so far this week. A child’s life could depend on it.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20100203/EDIT02/2030370/1019/EDIT/Moms++Choose+your+partner+carefully

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20100131/NEWS0107/2010305/Campaign-targets-child-abuse-by-moms%5C–boyfriends

http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/Hamilton-Co-Campaign-Seeks-To-Reduce-Child-Abuse/f8KKh82l1U2weVfzMTF70g.cspx

http://www.local12.com/news/local/story/Campaign-Urges-Moms-To-Pick-Boyfriends-Carefully/lB8ZG9dkQUm_skkzTG_NAQ.cspx