Kane Co. taxpayers asked to fund child support enforcement
Single moms and dads who rely on child support collected by Kane County may have to lean more heavily on local social service providers if officials can't fill a void of state funding for the collection effort.
Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon asked for an emergency loan that would put local taxpayers on the hook to pay for child support enforcement conducted by his office. McMahon's staff collected about $25.8 million for single parents last year. That staff is funded by $746,000 of federal and state matching funds via contract with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
McMahon says the state has failed to fulfill its end of the deal. No child support funding has flowed from the state since there has been no state budget. That'll put Kane County taxpayers on the hook for $310,000 this year and the full $746,000 next year if county officials want to keep the local enforcement unit running.
If the unit closed, the enforcement duties would fall back to the state. McMahon doesn't believe the state has the manpower in place locally to perform the enforcement task as efficiently or aggressively as his staff already does.
"We have a successful unit," McMahon said. "Every dollar they collect is less reliance our single parents have on service providers and state assistance programs."
County board members seemed supportive of a one-time loan. But board Chairman Chris Lauzen said it is "not practical" for the county to take on the enforcement costs on a permanent basis. Lauzen also expressed little faith in the state reimbursing the county by the end of Illinois' fiscal year.
"When some basic fundamentals of finance are not even being acknowledged, you have to say it's not going to come forward by June 30," Lauzen said.
Two options remain if the county won't assume the costs and the state won't willingly pay.
McMahon said Kane County could sue the state to seek legal enforcement of the child support contract. He feels that's a "last resort" option.
The other option is staking out a direct agreement with the federal government to get some funding. Two-thirds of the funding involved for local child support enforcement is federal money.
McMahon said DuPage County had a direct agreement with the feds for its child support enforcement dollars up until about two years ago. He was unsure why the agreement fell apart.
DuPage County officials did not respond to interview requests.