LAURINBURG — To many people, the color green can symbolize trees, grass or nature in general, but this month it takes on a new meaning as the color representing Child Support Awareness Month.
Gov. Roy Cooper created a proclamation to announce the designation and, on Monday, the proclamation was read at the Scotland County Board of Commissioners meeting by Chairman Whit Gibson.
The proclamation states that “children are entitled to financial support from their parts and that North Carolina continues to improve its efforts at child support collections.” It also included statistics pointing out that more than $700 million was collected during the 2017-2018 fiscal year and that there are 345,391 child support orders in place in the state.
In Scotland County, there are 4,459 child support cases. Of those, there are 57 non-custodial parents who currently have orders for their arrest.
According to Scotland County Department of Social Services Director April Snead, these orders for arrest come as a result of the parents not making payments.
“Once a non-custodial parent has been ordered by the court to make child support payments, the Department monitors payments received,” Snead said. “Once a non-custodial parent fails to make payments, the Department motions the case to court in an effort to collect payment. If no collection is made, the court may enter an order for arrest.
“If the non-custodial parent does not appear in court, an order for arrest may be entered as well,” she added.
In June, the DSS offered an amnesty month for the first time in the county, offering non-custodial parents who owed more than $500 in child support and had an order for arrest to pay $500 and have the order for arrest dropped.
The idea was to encourage those who may have fallen behind in payments to pay the $500 to get the order for arrest taken off and get back into paying.
There were 17 parents who took advantage of amnesty month and $8,000 was collected. Each of the cases had pending orders for arrest.
The payments also helped the 2018 fiscal year’s collection, which increased by $99,373.54 — from 4,936,095.54 in 2017 to $5,035,469.08.
”Child support is assistance to custodial parents who strive to provide the best for their children,” Snead said. “It also ensures non-custodial parents are held accountable for their children, and even if choosing not to have a physical presence in their lives, assist in providing financially for their children.”
As for the month itself, Snead believes it’s important to bring the awareness to keep child support at the forefront of people’s minds, including the non-custodial parents.
“We want to ensure all children have their safety and well-being needs are met,” Snead said.
For the month DSS will continue with plans of educating the community on child support as well as promoting the color green to represent it.
Katelin Gandee can be reached at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]