In an attempt to balance its budget, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced Friday it would charge a new fee on child support collections.
“We’ve done everything internally and administratively that the agency can possibly do,” said Jeff Wagner, Child Support Services (CSS) spokesperson. "That leaves this fee as one of the very few remaining alternatives to being able to maintain a viable program."
Last year, child support reportedly cut more than 15 percent of its staff, closed five of its 40 offices, and eliminated its court liaison program.
Starting October 1, DHS said 3 percent up to $10 per month will be charged on child support collections.
When asked why the fee is coming out of collections instead of being billed to the non-custodial parent, Wagner stated, “By having the fee come out of collections, CSS only charges the fee when it is successful in collecting on behalf of the family.”
This is on top of the $25 fee child support customers pay once a year.
“The $25 federal fee is paid directly to the federal government,” said Wagner. "For many years, Child support had paid that on behalf of our customers. But a few years ago, we had to pass that on to our customers as a result of budget cuts in the past."
Based on past collections, DHS expects the average child support customer to pay about $4.31 per month. In all, they believe this will generate a million dollars for child support this year.
Those with custody of the child receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and SoonerCare are excluded from the fee.
Visit the DHS website for more information about Child Support Services.