Howard County's 1993 child support collections increased 25 percent above the previous fiscal year to a record $4.3 million, the highest percentage increase of any jurisdiction in the state.
Today, County Executive Charles I. Ecker plans to honor seven members of the Howard State's Attorney's Office child support staff, who were instrumental in helping to increase the collections.
Those employees work with the Department of Social Services, the County Sheriff's department and other agencies to ensure that child support payments are made.
Their work helps relieve the burden children suffer when their parents divorce, said Risa Garon, executive director of the Columbia-based Children of Separation and Divorce Center, a private advocacy group for children.
"Children often say that they are just an object with a price tag" when parents fight over child support, Ms. Garon said. "Child support has a tremendous impact on children and their families. It really affects their self-esteem.
"Given limited resources, it's very difficult for a child's development, and it's difficult for children to get the help they need," she said.
Ms. Risa praised the child support staff's efforts to collect payments. And Mr. Ecker said he would hand a letter of commendation to each of the staff members at the 4:30 p.m. ceremony.
"They've really been working hard," Mr. Ecker said. "I just think they put forth more effort this year than in the past, and they've been very successful."
The workers to be honored are Jan Campbell, Nina Greene, Margot St. Pierre, Joan Wallace, Barbara Badger, Walter Closson and Martin McNamara.
The Howard child support staff handles about 1,350 cases annually. The staff has had 850 active cases so far this fiscal year, which began July 1 and ends June 30, 1994. Staff members ensure that checks are paid to the Department of Social Services, which delivers the funds to the families.
"No one ever bothers to say thank you to these people," County State's Attorney William R. Hymes said of the workers. "I thought it only right that we honor them."
In fiscal year 1993, which ended June 30, Anne Arundel County collections were up 23 percent at $16 million; Calvert County collections were up 20 percent at $3.6 million; and Frederick County collections were up 22 percent at $5 million.
While all jurisdictions in the state showed increases, many had more modest improvements. Baltimore City, which had $49.6 million in collections, had a 1 percent increase.