Maryland's first statewide amnesty for parents facing arrest for nonpayment of child support coaxed about 4,500 dads and moms out of hiding, and raised about $705,000 in overdue payments.
The five-day amnesty, which ended Sept. 15, resulted in liens against the wages of 1,470 of those who came forward - meaning money will be automatically deducted from wages. And 557 delinquent parents who were unemployed or held low-wage jobs were referred to job training programs.
Helps re-establish ties
Most important, state officials said, the effort probably helped hundreds of people - most of them fathers - re-establish ties with their children.
"It's hard to reconnect when you think you might be arrested," said Teresa Kaiser, executive director of the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration.
Previous amnesties have been staged independently by county child support enforcement offices.
This was the first held in all of Maryland's counties and Baltimore at the same time, state officials said, which made it easier to publicize.
Some to out-of-state offices
Some delinquent parents with children in Maryland showed up at child support offices in northern Virginia and Washington, which also participated.
The amnesty ran from Sept. 11 to Sept. 15. Many nonpaying parents waited to the last minute.
"The week began slowly, but by the week's end we were overwhelmed," Kaiser said. "Friday was a real banner day."
So many parents showed up Sept. 15 at the child support office in Towson that a line stretched out the door, she said.