JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - It's a statistic that's plagued Mississippi for years. Less than half of those in the state who owe child support, actually pay up. It's a never ending battle to collect money owed to children.
Now, The Department of Human Services says their case load has increased, as unemployment numbers around the state reach their peak.
Mississippi's has a top ten most wanted list, of those who failed to provide for their own children. Like, Albert Jelks who owes over 52 thousand, and Samuel Boyd, who owes over 48 thousand.
Mississippi Child Support Enforcement Director Walley Naylor said, "There are 364 thousand child support cases open in Mississippi right now, of that 364 thousand, about 55 percent of those cases have gone to court."
Naylor says in many cases the state still has to garnish wages, suspend drivers licenses, and even lock up parents.
286 million dollars was collected last year on behalf of Mississippi children. That's a 90 million dollar increase over the last five years.
"There are lots of them that might be dead beat, but in more instances than not, right now they're dead broke," said Naylor.
Naylor says collections from dead beat parents through unemployment benefits has nearly tripled in recent months.
"In this economy there are guys that really care about their children and wanna pay but are unable to pay because they don't have employment. I'm not minimizing the fact we still have too many of them out there who don't want to pay," said Naylor.
Naylor continued, "There are a lot of them out there running from us not willing to pay and won't pay. We are aggressive as we can be trying to find those guys. Now, we are actually trying to help them find employment."
The Department of Child Support Enforcement out-sources some of the work done to track down deadbeat parents, a job made easier in recent years with the use of the internet.
Said Naylor, "If you have the means to pay, you need to be paying now because it's only a matter of time before we find you."
State Child Support Enforcement also offers parenting classes and mediates visitation issues on a regular basis, in efforts to reduce negative impacts on the children owed financial support, and hopefully break a cycle of parents abandoning their kids, when they're needed most.
According to Naylor, "Children that grow up without both parents involved in their lives in a positive way usually do worse off."
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