Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

SRS fields questions on late checks

Child-support payment problems focus of hearing

October 19, 2000


— One of the Legislature's top technology experts had plenty of questions Wednesday about problems with the state's new child-support payment center.

Sen. Stan Clark, chairman of the Joint Committee on Information Technology, said some constituents have complained about delays in their child-support payments, while others have received the wrong amount.

Clark, R-Oakley, said one constituent received two checks that had erroneous amounts and the envelope containing them wasn't sealed.

"You're sending out checks that are incorrect. I don't know what you're going to do about that, but it's a problem," Clark told Janet Schalansky, secretary of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Schalansky said most complaints she had received dealt with delays and that she had not heard any reports of incorrect amounts on checks.

Checks had been delayed an average of two or three days soon after Tier Technologies Inc. started processing child-support payments at the Kansas Payment Center in Topeka on Sept. 29.

District courts and SRS handled the payments before that, but the state changed its system to comply with a 1996 federal law that required states to centralize their processing of child-support payments.

Employees processed about 16,000 child-support checks last weekend. However, there still is a backlog of about 1,500 checks that didn't include necessary information, such as the case number and the county in which the case was filed.

The payment center's telephone system malfunctioned Monday, although Schalansky said she thinks those problems were solved by Tuesday night.

Parents who have not received payments may call the center from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. this week toll free at 1-877-572-5722.

Schalansky described telephone problems and the backlog of checks as "two remaining frustrations."

She said SRS has told Tier Technologies that the firm needs to make a greater effort to reduce the remaining backlog.

Clark said several constituents received their checks via bulk mail, and as much as two weeks lapsed between when the checks arrived at the payment center and when parents got them.

"My recommendation is do something else besides bulk mail," Clark said.

Schalansky responded that she would consider using other forms of mail if that would get checks out faster.

After the meeting, Schalansky said despite the remaining problems, she thinks the payment system is improving.

"What I feel good about is I've still not heard of programming errors that mean the system's crashing," Schalansky said. "As long as it will process checks, and our problem was just getting the data into it, that makes me feel good, because you can hire people."

As of Monday, the payment center had processed about 91,000 checks worth about $17.5 million since it started handling child support checks last month.


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