Today, Governor Susana Martinez joined Human Services Department Secretary Squier, Human Services Department Deputy Secretary Charissa Saavedra, Acting Child Support Enforcement Director Stephen Klump, and New Mexico State Police Captain Robert Miller in wrapping up the successful 2012 bench warrant amnesty and sweeps program, an effort aimed at collecting overdue child support payments from delinquent non-custodial parents.
On August 16th, the statewide child support bench warrant program was announced as a continuation and expansion of the successful effort launched last year. The initial phase of this program, the amnesty period, led to 84 non-custodial parents contacting the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) to learn how to clear their warrants and live up to their obligations.
Non-custodial parents made a total of $834,372 in direct payments during the amnesty period and subsequent bench warrant sweep. These payments are in addition to CSED's other collections through wage withholding and other payment sources.
"One of the best factors in alleviating childhood poverty is the payment of child support. Our successful efforts through the bench warrant program are helping more families receive the child support they are due. This program has contributed greatly in helping to make an impact on the lives of New Mexico's kids," said Governor Susana Martinez. "These payments go directly to the children of New Mexico. And with the recent start of the school year, more children will be able to get the school supplies they need, the school uniforms that are required, and quality lunches every day."
As of the end of August, there were approximately 430 active warrants for individuals who failed to pay child support during the amnesty period. Law enforcement agencies throughout the state attempted to serve these warrants during a warrant sweep that followed the amnesty period.
Statewide, 79 non-custodial parents were arrested. The total amount of bonds owed on these cases was $243,277. The state will continue to collect money as non-custodial parents make payments in order to get out of jail.
As a result of the amnesty period and the bench warrant round-up phase, about 25 percent of total child support bench warrants statewide were cancelled.
"The bench warrant program has proven to be a great success. We are getting more payments directly to those whom they are due, the children of New Mexico," said Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier. "We must build upon the successful implementation on this program so we can continue to make a positive impact through our child support efforts throughout the state."
The New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) was recognized by the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) in June as the Most Improved State Program in the Country. Programs such as the Bench Warrant Program have helped New Mexico's CSED achieve this status.
The overall CSED program ranking has jumped more than 8 spots in the last 3 years as well. New Mexico went from 45th in the nation to 40th in the nation this year.
In State Fiscal Year 2012, which ended June 30th, NM CSED collected an all-time high of $129.6 million in child support payments. The record collections were 5% greater that State Fiscal Year 2011 collections and 16% greater than the goal set by the Legislative Finance Committee for FY12.