Local courts feel impact of state’s outdated child support system


HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Parents and children aren’t the only ones impacted by the decades-long delays for South Carolina’s new child support enforcement system.

The local court system is also feeling the effects as the number of cases it handles grows.

“That’s our biggest thing, that’s 70 percent of our day is child support cases,” said Horry County Family Court Supervisor Valentina Ransom-Jenkins. “We are at a point with numbers are at the highest ever.”

She’s been in the department for 12 years and describes her side of child support enforcement as “record keeping.”

Ransom-Jenkins said she’s seen the good, the bad and the ugly of child support cases.

“This is what I tell my coworkers, ‘We are here 8 to 5; what we can do is what we can do. We are very diligent as to what we do,’” Ransom-Jenkins said. “The one thing we pride ourselves on is getting problems solved.”

But what would help them solve those problems is a new child support enforcement computer system, one that would make it easier to track down deadbeat parents to collect the money they owe and to connect Horry County with other counties and states.

“We are very excited because in this age of technology, we know there is an easier way to pay a bill and access information,” Ransom-Jenkins said. “We have people who come in and tell us they pull it up on a mobile app. When I see things like that, it kind of makes me feel left behind. That should be one of our No. 1 one goals is to get in the lead with the other states because we process so much and offer so much.”

Right now, Horry County Family Court handles more than 33,000 active child support cases, and while the system it uses now works, it doesn’t make the job easy.

“When we change an address, we literally have to put it in their basket. They pick it up and take it to their office 45 minutes away and then they key it in,” Ransom Jenkins said.

She’s talking about South Carolina Child Support Enforcement workers. They are the muscle behind the court system.

However, the lack of an automated and centralized computer interface means the information they have can sometimes be dated, making it hard to get single parents the money they’re owed.

“We work very well together basically because we have to. We are able to get info they can’t get and vice versa,” Ransom-Jenkins said. “Child support is perfect by no means. The system we have is nowhere near perfect, but it’s all we have at this point. So we try to maximize what we can do.”

Ransom-Jenkins believes more parents will pay what they owe if they are given easier options to pay, which won’t be available until the new system is finished.

The latest numbers from the Department of Social Services show that child support collections in March 2017 totaled more than $33 million. It’s a record for the child support program.

Proposed legislation that could help deadbeat parents pay their child support have been introduced. They are House Bill 3121 and Senate Bill 134.

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