RHINELANDER - Wisconsin ranks second in the nation for successfully collecting child support. But the state hasn't increased funding for child support enforcement in the past decade. Oneida County, along with about 46 other counties across Wisconsin, are asking the state to change that trend.
Oneida County's Child Support Supervisor Tom Eernisse says the programs in Wisconsin already perform at a high level. But in order to maintain that, more funding is needed from the state. Eernisse says between an increase in caseloads, inflation, and changes to state and federal regulations there is now a higher demand on child support agencies.
His department handles locating absent parents, establishing child support orders, and modifying and enforcing those orders. Oneida County child support specialists currently handle about 560 cases each.
"It's difficult to stay on top of. There's a lot of effort that goes into all the various aspects of establishing orders and enforcing them because there's so many different things we're responsible for," said Eernisse.
The federal government provides most of the funding for child support programs. But it will also double whatever funding the state puts into its agencies.
The Oneida County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution asking the state for a $1.5 million annual increase. That would also mean a $3 million dollar increase in federal funding for the program.
Eernisse says that funding would help improve the lives of the children and help some families avoid assistance programs, saving taxpayers money.
"There's a high percentage of low-income families that child support is a huge part of their income and that allows those children to be successful," said Eernisse. "I mean there's studies that show that parents who play support are more likely to be involved in their children's lives."
The Oneida County Child Support Enforcement department is currently drafting a letter to Gov. Tony Evers requesting the increase in funding.