S.D. Division of Child Support ranked #1

S.D. Division of Child Support ranked #1 South Dakota's Division of Child Support (DCS) has achieved the top national ranking for its performance, according to DCS Director Terry Walter.

A recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report released at a National Council of Child Support Directors meeting lists each state's child support enforcement program performance for federal fiscal year 2004. For the fifth consecutive year, the national report has ranked South Dakota's program number one for its performance.

"This recognition is a real tribute to the dedication, commitment and professionalism demonstrated by each and every Child Support employee throughout South Dakota," said Department of Social Services Secretary Deborah Bowman. "This top ranking signifies the commitment that Child Support staff has to establishing paternity and child support orders and collecting child support owed to South Dakota's children."

Five performance measures determine each state's rating: paternity establishment percentage, order establishment percentage, percentage of current support collections, percentage of cases with collections on arrears, and cost effectiveness ratio. The performance measures are used to calculate federal incentive payment. South Dakota's federal incentive payment for federal fiscal year 2004 will be approximately $1.5 million. Walter said South Dakota will use the money to match federal dollars to fund the state's child support program.

During state fiscal year 2005 (July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005), South Dakota DCS collected a total of $79.7 million in child support, established or acknowledged paternity for 3,500 children born out of wedlock, established 2,457 new child support orders, and completed more than 33,000 successful enforcement actions. Walter said DCS has 34,100 open enforcement cases and 7,700 payment processing only cases, for a total of 41,800 cases.

"While this top ranking means South Dakota operates an effective and efficient child support program, we recognize there is more that can be done to assist families that are owed child support and to work with noncustodial parents so that they can satisfy their court ordered obligations," Walter said. "There are always going to be a certain number of cases where DCS is just not able to collect everything that is owed under the court order due to various factors and circumstances of individual cases."

For more information about the South Dakota DCS, which is a division of the Department of Social Services, visit DCS' Web site at www.state.sd.us/social/dcs.

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