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September 22, 2005

Florida Child Support Collections Set New Record, Top $1 Billion Tor Second Consecutive Year

TALLAHASSEE - Florida's child support collections set a new record of $1.16 billion, and exceeded $1 billion in a single year for the second consecutive year, the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) announced today. Collections for the 2004-2005 fiscal year set the 11th consecutive collections record in child support.

"Reforms to the state's child support collection system have made it work better for the people it serves," said Governor Jeb Bush, who has presided over a 177 percent increase in child support collections since taking office. "The steady increases in collections indicate more children are receiving the support they deserve and need. We will continue to strive to make Florida's child support enforcement program among the nation's best."

Eleven years of record collections have come against a backdrop of generally flat or declining caseloads. DOR currently administers more than 700,000 child support cases, representing approximately one million Florida children. Almost one Florida child in four is touched by a child support case administered by DOR. (One case may involve more than one child.)

Jim Zingale, executive director of DOR, attributed the rising collections to continued leadership and support by Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature to enact measures that help children receive the support they need and deserve.

Legislation enacted during the 2005 legislative session includes provisions that will allow paternity to be established for more children, support orders to be established more quickly, and improve child support payment processing by implementing electronic remittance and disbursement of payments. Additionally, the new law streamlines and improves many of the existing enforcement remedies used when parents do not pay their support timely and consistently.

In addition, the first phase of the new Child Support Automated Management System (CAMS) supported by Governor Bush and the Legislature with $17.9 million in the 2005-2006 budget is expected to be operational statewide in early 2006. The first phase of the system includes activities that assist in enforcing support orders, locating parents, and providing customer service. The new computer system will more effectively process child support cases by automating many of the functions currently performed manually by staff. Additionally, this modern system will enable the Department to efficiently modify the system as child support processes change and to retrieve the data necessary to manage the child support program, which will help DOR deliver better service to families.

The latest federal performance data (FFY 2002-03) indicate Florida is ranked 27th nationally based on five federal performance measures; Florida ranked approximately 48th out of 54 states and territories in 1997. While incredible strides have been made in improving the system, Zingale pointed out there is much work to be done to continue improving the child support system.

"We will not be satisfied until we've made every effort to increase collections on behalf of Florida's children," Zingale said. "Governor Bush, the Cabinet and the Legislature have endorsed our goal of driving the performance of Florida's child support enforcement program into the top five states and territories nationally in the next two to four years. Thanks to the capabilities of our employees, the potential of the CAMS system, and our managers' groundbreaking work in business process management, I am confident we can reach that goal. With the support of the elected leadership and the hard work of our employees, the winners will be Florida's children."