SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — As the Illinois state budget war continues, more possible causalities are emerging. Single parents may soon find it harder to collect child support because local officials who work on the cases have run out money.
A dire warning was issued today from Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon: Without money from Springfield, his office may have to cut child support collection.
“We can’t do it without support from the state,” he said.
About a dozen Illinois counties-including Kane County have contracts with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to help investigate, determine eligibility, and collect child support payments.
Every year McMahon’s office takes on 1,300 new cases. Last year, he collected $25.8 million for single parents.
But as the state budget standoff continues, Kane and the other counties have not received funding for the program.
“We’re coming up on a full 12 months where the state has not paid a single dollar towards their obligation to fund this service here in Kane County,” McMahon said.
Last year, Kane County dished out $655,000 for child support enforcement. And now county leaders must decide whether to pay the contract again upfront.
McMahon wants state lawmakers to send the money, but if they don’t, he wants the county to pay.
“It’s the right thing to do for single parents. They cannot stay in their homes. They cannot put food on the table without support for their children,” McMahon said.
Back in March, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office filed suit against the state for failing to reimburse agencies that enforce child support. But the money will not flow until Springfield passes a budget.
If Illinois counties can no longer support the child support collection program, then the Attorney General of Illinois will have to handle these cases. But McMahon says the counties are better equip to do the job.