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Philly leads in child support collection, but courts need more money

Hon. Kevin Dougherty said though Philadelphia collected nearly $172 million in child support last year, family court remains underfunded.

City Council Philadelphia (Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro)

Philadelphia leads the nation when it comes to the collection of child support, Philadelphia family court administrative judge, Hon. Kevin Dougherty, testified Monday before a City Council budget hearing.

"Philadelphia has been recognized in leading Pennsylvania in the collection of child support," Dougherty said.

"And Pennsylvania has led the nation in the collection of child support, meeting all the necessary hallmarks the feds have set."

Philadelphia, through its family court IV-D program, just last year collected $171,783,514 in child support monies owed and entered active support orders in connection with about 88,000 paternity findings.

Pennsylvania, overall, collects an average of $6.71 in child support for every dollar spent on administrative costs, exceeding national average of $4.79 collected for each dollar spent.

"However, each year, every year we are in a deficit," Dougherty said.

"The current budget amount from the general fund is insufficient to the demands of the services we are providing the families."

He said Philadelphia's family court system has been sinking further into the red, running an annual deficit averaging $600,000 each year.

City Council has been supplementing annual federal child support collection funding since 2004, providing an extra $1.5 million.

"Those monies have not been increased," Dougherty said. "Yet the number of petitions have – custody petitions."

He's asking for an one time funding allocation of $2.1 million to make up for the grant shortfall, as well as an increase in the annual child support program funding cap from $1.5 million to $2.5 million

"When you look at the monies we bring in, or look at the children we feed or the parents we assist to clothe and feed, I don't think it's unreasonable to come to this Council and request additional money to the $1.5," Dougherty said.

"I think that's a wonderful investment for the return you're receiving," he said.

 
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