HELENA, Mont. -- The state's Child Support Enforcement Division announced on Monday that basic case information can now be accessed via the Internet. State officials said the new payment-information service will provide fast, easy access to parents and caseworkers in a secure setting.

The CSED handles more than 45,000 cases in Montana, officials said, and provides collection and timely payment services, as well as establishing paternity. Each month, the agency receives more than 27,000 telephone inquiries, many from parents asking for payment information about their case.

Though researching answers to these inquiries is vital to maintaining good contact with parents, the research consumes time that could be used locating parents who are delinquent on their payments, officials said, noting that this is the main reason the Internet service was established as the primary information tool.

"This service is less expensive and more convenient to people than answering questions over the telephone," said Lonnie Olson, CSED administrator. "Of course, we'll continue to provide assistance by telephone, but we encourage people to try this electronic system."

The site provides the last five payment amounts, receipt dates and balance due. The site also contains an FAQ section, instructions on use and a glossary of terms. Officials said the site's information is updated nightly.

Constituents log into the service by entering their Social Security number and CSED case number. Once the required identification is supplied, payment information is provided instantly.

The online Child Support Payment Information service is the result of collaboration between two Montana state agencies and a private vendor, officials said.

The CSED, part of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, developed the system -- without any direct agency cost -- cooperatively with the Department of Administration's Information Technology Services Division.

Montana Interactive provided technical expertise and system development; part of the electronic-government Services contract between the state and the company.

The Montana Information Technology Services Division