By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
County's child support collection rate rises, earning agency state award
The Green County Child Support Agency is located in the Justice Center, 2841 6th St. The agency recently won an award for having an improved collection rate and other high-performing numbers in 2012. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - More than $5 million dollars passed through the Green County Child Support Agency last year, placing it among the best collectors in the state for support payments.

The total collected here in 2012 - $5,317,277 - is peanuts compared to the amount collected in more populous counties like Dane or Milwaukee, which collected more than $145 million.

But it represents a relatively healthy collection rate of about 82 percent, which is 7 points higher than it was in 2011, according to administrator Vicki Miller-Share.

This improved collection rate and other high-performing numbers won the Green County agency a 2012 Certificate of Outstanding Achievement Award last month.

A quarter of Wisconsin's 72 county child support agencies achieved this honor in 2012 from their oversight organization, the state's Department of Children and Families.

Why collections in Green County went up 7 points from 2011 to 2012 is unclear, though it may have something to do with the local economy and unemployment rate.

"Basically it's just the luck of the draw," Miller-Share said. "Demographics has a lot to do with the collections and performance. Some counties are economically poorer and that shows in their performance."

Before a person gets referred to the court system for nonpayment of child support - a felony charge with a maximum penalty of three and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine - there are steps agents can take to encourage a mother or father to pay up. Taking away a fishing, hunting or driving license is one option.

"That's something the actual caseworker has control over," Miller-Share said.

But punishment isn't the goal: "Our goal is to collect money, not put people in jail."

Other factors considered for the award include Green County's paternity establishment rate of more than 90 percent and the improved court-order establishment rate of 93.95 percent in 2012.

The agency's four full-time employees handled 1,516 cases last year.

Most cases seek payment from the father, Miller-Share said, but a growing number seek payment from the mother. She estimates about five to 10 percent of her agency's cases handle payments from mothers.

A case begins in one of three ways - directly from a parent, or as a referral from Green County Human Services, or from a private attorney. But this last option is rare and unnecessary, she added: "We do it just as fast as attorneys do."