ANNAPOLIS – The state has collected more than $100 million in back child support by threatening to suspend the driver’s licenses of scofflaw parents, Gov. Parris Glendening announced Wednesday – but not all of that money has gone directly to the families.
The state collected $374 million in child support in fiscal 1999 through all child support enforcement programs, including the Driver’s License Suspension Program. Of that, $23 million went to the state treasury to repay temporary cash assistance provided to custodial parents, according to the Maryland Department of Human Resources.
“When we recouped that money from non-custodial parents that $23 million went back to the state’s coffers,” said Elyn Jones, department spokeswoman.
Yet the license suspension program has been a resounding success, said Glendening and others at the news conference.
Since the program began in 1996, more than 228,000 people were tapped by the state for not paying child support. Just 63,568 licenses have been suspended, according to Erlene Wilson, department communications director.
The program targets parents who do not pay child support for at least two months by notifying the Motor Vehicle Administration that they are in arrears. The Child Support Enforcement Administration then notifies violators that their licenses will be revoked if they fail to arrange payments or request an investigation within 20 days. After a second warning goes unheeded, the MVA suspends the licenses.
Suspended licenses are only reinstated upon full payment of back child support, new payments are kept current for six consecutive months, or the court orders the payments stopped.
Delegate Mark Shriver, D-Montgomery, who co-sponsored the 1995 bill for the program, said suspending licenses has sent a wake-up call to parents.
Driving is a privilege, he said, not a right as some who oppose the program might say. While two state agencies working together is uncommon, the result shown here has become a national model, Shriver said.
The bill’s other sponsors were former Sens. Decatur Trotter, D-Prince George’s, and John Pica, D-Baltimore City.
Suspending licenses affects scofflaw parents daily, Glendening said. “Our children are our responsibility,” he said. Many children do not have the basic necessities, some through deliberate avoidance and sometimes because parents are not educated, Glendening said.
During the first fiscal year of the program, $8.4 million in child support payments was collected.
Each year that number has increased. The $103 million is the total collected from October 1996 to July 1999.
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