In Barry Maram's letter (Nov. 19) in response to Sonnie Harris he spouted the party line of "we take child support very seriously" and trotted out the "2006 Most Improved Program in the Country" award to prove Illinois is doing just great in collecting child support.
But the facts are that Illinois child support enforcement rates are dismal. Source: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pubs/#annual
2005 National Ranking out of 54 — 50 States plus the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico:
* Paternity established, 49th
* Support orders established, 49th
* Arrears with collections, 53rd
* Collection rate, 43rd
* Caseworker to case ratio 1:389, compared to national average, 1:266; Pennsylvania, 1:207, first in child support collection and arrears collection.
* Illinois cost effectiveness is $3.68; national average, $4.58; Montana, $4.02, first in paternity; South Dakota, $7.76, first in order establishment; Pennsylvania, $6.39.
Our state leaders, including Mr. Maram, want everyone to believe that those complaining are a minority and/or don't truly understand the whole picture.
Per an April 2006 survey of 113 custodial parents:
* 143 children affected
* $591,659-plus owed in arrears
* 20 percent of cases are receiving payments on arrears, average of $10 per week
* 62.5 percent of cases are through Department of Child Support Enforcement.
* 17.14 percent, no DCSE action needed; 27.14 percent, DCSE taking some action; 51.43 percent, DCSE not taking action — no response to numerous non-custodial requests/inquiries; 2.68 percent, DCSE case was closed.
This is not a minority nor is this not seeing the whole picture as every Regional DCSE Office in Illinois was represented.
Illinois needs to take a hard look into the child support enforcement system and those who run it and put the funding to better use — like perhaps more caseworkers to lessen the caseload.
Now that would be taking "child support very seriously."
Teri Moncelle Colglazier
The writer is vice president and secretary, Child Support in Ilinois.