Child support collected in 2016 totaled $17.3 million

LISBON — If you saw a group of people wearing all green earlier in the month, they were not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day early.

They were employees of the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services’ child support enforcement agency who wore green to work in recognition of August as Child Support Awareness Month.

JFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon and CSEA Administrator Debra Kempers attended this past week’s meeting of the county commissioner to update them on their latest child support collection and enforcement efforts, with Kempers reporting $17.3 million in child support was collected in 2106. This represented a 68.1 percent collection rate, which is slightly lower than the statewide average of 69.5 percent. The goal is 70 percent.

There are 10,290 child support cases in the county.

Kempers said there are some people they are simply unable to locate, mostly because those people work at not being found, despite their best efforts. “We get an address and then we find they’ve moved, and that’s what they do to stay ahead of us,” she said.

Hampering CSEA efforts is the fact most children in the county today are born out of wedlock, which makes it harder to get a court order for child support because the couple has not gone through a formal divorce.

The JFS has a number of activities planned for August, including a breakfast for community partners on Aug. 25. The featured speaker is Amy Roehrenbeck, executive director of the Ohio Child Supports Directors Association.

In other action, commissioners accepted the recommendation of county Engineer Bert Dawson in hiring Marucci & Gaffney Excavating to replace the bridge on Old state Route 154 in Elkrun Township for $484,874. Marucci’s bid was the lowest of those received for the project by the engineer’s office.