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Child Support Awareness Month highlights recent improvements in state

By Kit Murray

Recent changes have been made to Minnesota’s child care services to ensure that it stays a leader in providing financial support to families in need.

Child care ensures that both parents are responsible to provide financial support for basic needs. Some services include locating parents, collecting payments and adjusting court orders based on the cost of living.

With the state ranking fifth in the nation for the percentage of current child care support collected each month, and third for payments of overdue support, Gov. Mark Dayton declared August as Child Support Awareness Month to highlight Minnesota’s success and the changes made to further improve child support.

Noting the strong commitment Minnesota has to supporting child care services, Nina Arneson, Goodhue County Health and Human Services director, spoke about the significance of the program in the region.

“I believe it is important for us to bring attention to this important lifeline for many children and families around the state and in Goodhue County. The GCHHS Board also acknowledged August as Child Support Awareness Month, along with taking the time to recognize the county professionals that perform this important work.”

The three changes listed in the Minnesota Department of Human Services include:

•Families are able to keep an additional $100 for a family with one child and $200 for a family with two or more children. Previously, child support payment was counted as income.

•Effective July 1, applicants no longer have to pay a $25 fee.

•Payments can now be made online using a checking or savings account.

“These changes should result in a positive impact for families by allowing struggling families to keep more income to make ends meet, increase access to services and provide an additional option for making payments,” she said.

For every $1 that is spent on the Minnesota child support system, $3.54 is collected in support of children. By keeping an effective and affordable system in play, families can expect adequate support for their children. In the 2015 fiscal year, the state and Minnesota counties collected and disbursed $250,000 via the new system, with $17,450 being the highest single payment, officials said. These improvements can help contribute to the overall support issued each year.

“Goodhue County’s child support professionals collected almost $6 million in the fiscal year 2015 in child support payments for children and families in Goodhue County,” she said.

Arneson commented how important it is for both parents to contribute to the child’s financial security, wellness and overall success, and the best way to do that when parents don’t live in the same household is through child support.