An audit of Child Support Delinquencies within the Department of Social Services’ Family Support Division finds there are serious problems with the tracking of child support payments. As of June 30th of last year, the Division’s computerized system showed approximately 240,000 child support cases had arrears totaling approximately $2.2-Billion. But it’s possible a good deal of this money might have been paid, with sloppy bookkeeping and other forms of human error responsible for the current total. In fact, the audit finds incorrect arrears balances on approximately 27 percent of child support cases with arrears over $1,000, as of June 30th.
State Auditor Susan Montee says several reasons are responsible for these incorrect balances. Among them: A judgment had not been recorded accurately, or not at all; the obligation amount, or amount due, had not been recorded correctly; and Division personnel had made errors when previously making adjustments to account balances on the Missouri Automated Child Support System.
The audit recommends the Division ensure balances are correct for all cases with arrears. And, it wants the Division to require its personnel to terminate judicial orders of support when dependents reach the age of 22, or the statutory age of emancipation.
Division Director Janel Luck agrees her office must ensure balances are correct, but it disagrees with the termination recommendation, saying the General Assembly has not given the Division the administrative authority to terminate judicial orders. It says only a court can terminate its order.
As for the report as a whole, Luck calls it "pretty misleading." She says when situations change, the Division makes alterations as quickly as possible, but insists the Division cannot be held accountable for situational changes that are made without the Division being informed. This, she says, happens in many out-of-state cases.