ELIZABETHTOWN — The tenacious work ethic of the Essex County Child Support Enforcement Unit collected $3.8 million last year, County Department of Social Services Commissioner John O’Neill recently revealed.
The nine-person unit threw people in jail, seized bank and retirement accounts and intercepted tax refunds to get the money, he said.
The Social Services group is charged with collecting court-ordered child support from parents, and it’s averaging 2,000 cases a year, he said.
“They are one of the strongest anti-poverty programs we have. They deserve some recognition.”
Child Support Enforcement Unit Coordinator Kristine Stephens said they’ve had some major cases this year.
“In addition to regular collections, they had four cases with very large collections in February and March. An additional $78,000 was collected for four families in Essex County — $16,000 from freezing a bank account, $17,500 from income tax (refund) intercepts, $34,000 from seizing a hefty retirement account, and $10,000 as a result of imprisoning a non-payer” in the Essex County Jail.
She said that although many support collections are automatically deducted, someone must still know where to find the funds.
“A great deal of (the unit’s) success lies in the hands of local Child Support workers. Their skills and knowledge provide the basis for these automated collections to take place.
“They prepare and interpret legal documents, understand and use an enormous and ever-changing computer system and manage thousands of accounts.”
The Child Support Enforcement Unit works as a highly motivated team, Stephens said.
“Their success should be applauded. Great effort is put into everything they do to collect as much as possible for the innocent children of broken relationships and the taxpayers of Essex County.”
Supervisor David Blades (R-Lewis), who chairs the Human Services Committee of the County Board of Supervisors, said the Support Unit does a great job.
“I would like to, on behalf of the board, extend our appreciation and thanks.”
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