The Iowa Department of Human Services says child support collections were up two percent over last year despite the downturn in the Iowa economy. Carol Eaton, the head of the child support program for the Department of Human Services, says the slight increase is good considering the economic factors.
"I know that we’ve had a difficult year in terms of the economy but glad to see that we’ve been successful in collecting the dollars," Eaton says. The problems in the economy are evident in the way child support is being collected — as payments from unemployment checks were up 125% last year.
"Last year we collected about eight million dollars versus this year, just about 18 million dollars, so a significant growth in dollars coming through unemployment benefits," Eaton says.
D.H.S. spokesperson Roger Munns says the increase in collections from unemployment benefits did not come from Iowans who were discovered as they signed up for unemployment. Munns says he believes the people were already known by the department, but their source of income changed, so their unemployment benefits were then used as the source of their child support.
Munns says the economic downturn has caused more and more parents to ask that their child support orders be modified. He says the support payments can be changed if a person goes on unemployment and is making less money, but there is a built in time lag in the change.
He says the legislature created waiting periods to be sure that the person who requested the modification of their support amount really needed to have that change.
Munns says that would prevent situations where a person lost their job and got the support payment modified, and then they quickly got another job. The state collected $351-million in child support in 2008.