Guilford County leaders use every month of the year to focus on a major county issue or county service, and the focus for August of 2023, will be on appreciating and supporting the work of the Guilford County Child Support Department, which works to make sure that parents who owe money to provide for their children pay it, and pay it on time.

The department often gets overlooked however child support is big business locally. According to the latest stats from the county, child support services interact with about 19,000 Guilford County residents every year and there’s a lot of money involved.

For instance, during the past fiscal year, 2022-2023, which ended on June 30, Guilford County Child Support collected over $33 million dollars to provide for area kids.

The department used to be a part of Guilford County Social Services however, given the importance of the operations, it was made into a standalone department.

Over the years, the department, commissioners, and county administrators have pursued changes meant to increase the percentage collected of child support money owed.  For instance, when people don’t pay they sometimes end up in the county jail for a limited period of time.  Some have argued that house arrest would be better for those who did not pay since (A) People wouldn’t lose their jobs (B) It would still be a strong incentive to pay up, and (C) it wouldn’t take up county jail space and be an added financial burden on the county.

Other discussions have also taken place regarding ways to increase the percentage paid.

To kick of the month of public awareness of the service, at the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, Aug. 3 meeting, the commissioners are scheduled to adopt a resolution declaring, among other things, that  “all children deserve to have their basic needs met and the Guilford County Child Support Office helps engage and empower parents to find ways to provide reliable support for their children; and… good relationships build trust in the child support system and that trust helps to collect more support and build strong foundations for children as they grow into adults.”

The Child Support Department attempts to take a “family-centered approach” to collection that focuses on “providing respect and resources to every person every day.”

The resolution to be adopted this week reads, “WHEREAS, the Guilford County Child Support Office, continues to advance innovative ways to connect parents to resources that help with barriers to paying child support such as family- centered casework, partnerships with other state agencies and referrals to community-based organizations…. Now, therefore, the Board of Commissioners do hereby proclaim August 2023 as ‘Child Support Awareness Month’ in Guilford County, and recognizes the important role of the parent as well as those county support services designed to help families.”