Posted at: 08/14/2013 10:49 PM
By: Steph Crock

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Olmsted County Collected $17M in Child Support in 2012

(ABC 6 News) -- Olmsted County continues to help single families receive child support. Last year that amount topped $17 million, and for some, it's money that's critical for their child's wellbeing.

Statewide last year, that amount climbed to $600 million for roughly 250,000 families, it seems like a lot but officials say, it's not. Olmsted County collected about 78% percent of court ordered child support. It's a little shy of the 80% goal, so the numbers are ok, but still not everyone is paying up.

"Daycare costs are astronomical. It can literally wipe one check," said Danielle Teal. She's raising two girls and says it's almost impossible on her own. She says making ends meet for her 10 month-old baby is where she's in need of extra help. "He's supporting financially but it's not adequate," said Teal.

She's been working with Olmsted County for a year and has yet to go to trial for her child support concerns. "This money doesn't line the pocket of the parent, it really does go to the child," said Teal.

That's why each county enforces these payments. "We're expected to establish paternity, we're expected to set support obligations, and once we set those support obligations, we're expected to try our best to enforce them," said Tom Kelly, Senior Assistant to the Olmsted County Attorney. He deals with these cases specifically and says Olmsted County is doing better than some of the even larger counties in the state.

"For every dollar that's spent on child support in Olmsted County we collect $5.40,"  said Kelly. He says there is a misconception where that money goes. "The great majority of our cases are cases where there is no public assistance and so the great majority of our cases where we collect money, that goes directly to the parents," said Kelly.

Putting money aside, Teal says, "The money gets so back and forth that I don't think people really focus on the children and I think that’s the most important part, is our babies," said Teal.

Officials in Olmsted County say they are lucky to have almost 30 people working in the child support department. They also have time set aside every Wednesday for these hearings so they don't get pushed back too far.