Statewide amnesty offered for laggards on child support

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Maryland parents who face possible arrest for falling behind on child support payments will be given amnesty next week if they report to local enforcement agencies to work out payment plans.

The Child Support Enforcement Administration announced yesterday that all 23 counties and Baltimore will participate in the program - the first statewide amnesty in Maryland - Monday through Friday.

The program will allow parents who have outstanding bench warrants for failing to make court-ordered payments to go to their local child support office and make a partial payment without fear of arrest. When they go in, they will be offered help with such problems as unemployment, visitation disputes and substance abuse.

Teresa Kaiser, executive director of the state child support agency, said the timing is connected to the opening of schools.

"This is a traditional time of year when we are hearing from parents who aren't receiving child support about what a hardship it is as they're gearing up to go back to school," Kaiser said.

Child support amnesties in Baltimore and various counties have been successful, Kaiser said.

Kaiser said such programs can bring back into the child support system people who have been afraid to ask how to avoid arrest.

The amnesty will be publicized through a weekend advertising blitz using radio spots and posters. Parents in the counties should report to local child support offices. In Baltimore, parents should report to the Baltimore Circuit Court in Room 419 of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse.

People with questions may call for information at1-800-234-1528 or 301-599-0550.

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