Child support option a good idea

At first blush, the idea of deadbeat dads – or moms – hanging out at the Family Dollar store to get caught up on their obligations to their children seems absurd. If, however, making child support payments more convenient feeds a single hungry child, we all need to endorse and embrace the notion, no matter how daffy it seems on the surface.

As of Monday, parents of Michigan children will be able to make child support payments at thousands of 7-Eleven or Family Dollar stores anywhere in the country. Yes, the headline is fulfilling your obligations and washing it down with a large Slurpee.

More than two thirds of child support payments are arranged through payroll deductions. For the others, the state is just trying to make it as easy and convenient as possible, Erin Frisch, director of the state child support office, said. Four other states have similar arrangements. Parents pay a $2 fee for the convenience and there is no cost to taxpayers.

While 70 percent or so of parents make their payments with payroll deductions, that leaves thousands of custodial parents wondering how they will pay for their children’s next pair of shoes or dental checkup.

Statewide, parents are more than $14 billion in arrears to their children. It adds up when parents comply with only about 70 percent of child support orders. In St. Clair County, children are owed $46 million in overdue support payments, the state of Michigan calculates. That’s not just a statistic. That’s more than 6,600 children of divorced and separated parents who aren’t getting the support they need to thrive and grow into responsible adults.

With the new payment program, their parents have the convenient option of making payments at the Family Dollar stores in New Baltimore, Algonac, Capac, Yale and Port Huron.

Sanilac parents can make child support payments at Family Dollars in Sandusky, Croswell and Lexington.

Frisch said other retailers might be joining the program.

“My goal in child support is to try to get consistent, reliable payments for families,” she said. “Any time we can give folks another opportunity, we’re going to take advantage of it.”

That’s a just goal and an innovative means.

– Port Huron Times Herald