Parents take advantage of amnesty month

By: By Katelin Gandee - Staff reporter

LAURINBURG — Officials with the Scotland County Department of Social Services were pleased with the number of parents who chose to participate in the first amnesty month for child support, held in June, and reported that thousands of dollars had been collected.

Amnesty month allowed for anyone non-payment of child support to be able to make a payment and have the order for arrest removed. Snead hoped that this could be an incentive for some parents to get back on track with the support fees.

According to April Snead, DSS director, 17 parents took advantage of amnesty month and around $8,000 was collected in June.

During June, if the non-custodial parent owed more than $500 in child support and had an order for arrest, the parent could make a $500 payment toward what was owed to drop the order for arrest. For parents who owed less than $500, they were able to pay the amount due and the order for arrest wouldn’t be served.

After June 30, all pending orders for arrest were served, and the bond required on the order is usually the amount of child support that is due.

DSS currently has 4,437 active cases of orders for child support payment in place and there are 62 orders for arrest remaining for failure to pay child support.

“Child Support Amnesty Month was a new effort for Scotland County DSS Child Support to increase collections, and more importantly, ensure custodial parents receive child support payments,” Snead said. “I am pleased noncustodial parents took advantage of the opportunity to make payments and avoid arrest. The department will encourage, require and enforce ongoing collections.”

Snead said the Sheriff’s Department was extremely helpful with the program. The department has been taking to Facebook and posting the orders for arrest as well as posting on closed-circuit televisions at the courthouse.

“The Sheriff Department and DSS work well together to enforce child support policy and legislation,” Snead said. “The department employs a full-time sheriff deputy for the sole purpose of serving child support orders for arrest and supporting the department in collecting child support payments.”

The DSS got the idea through surrounding counties who have done amnesty month and talked with them about how they had done it.

“We’ve never done this before so we’re excited the people took advantage of it,” Snead said. “We’re planning to do it again and we hope that it becomes more and more successful.”

If the organization does do it again it would likely be an annual event and the next one will tentatively be in June 2019.

Katelin Gandee can be reached at 910-506-3171 or [email protected]

By Katelin Gandee

Staff reporter