Kansas to Text Residents Who Owe Child Support

The state's Department for Children and Families will use text messages to remind non-custodial parents about child support payments that haven’t been made in the last 45 days.

by Gabriella Dunn, The Wichita Eagle / May 3, 2016

(TNS) -- The state says it will text parents who owe child support to increase collections.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families, which oversees Child Support Services, said Thursday it started a pilot project with 100,000 Kansans to see if text messages help remind parents to pay child support.

The department also will try using the text messages to remind people about court dates and other appointments.

Theresa Freed, spokeswoman for the Department for Children and Families, said the pilot will run through June 30.

“We want to see if this is a good way to increase collections,” she said. “If it is, we’ll roll it out statewide.”

She said the state can send 1,000 per day between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The initial message to people selected for the pilot program started Monday and read as follows: “Welcome to KS Child Support text messaging! We will text for appointment & reminders. We will NEVER request personal information via a text message. If you do not want to receive text messages from KS Child Support reply with STOP.”

A news release about the pilot program said the department would use text messages to remind non-custodial parents about child support payments who haven’t paid in the last 45 days. The text will include the court order number, amount owed and a link to the Kansas Payment Center website.

Freed said the text message program costs the state less than $5,000, which comes from postal mail savings.

She said the state has cell phone numbers for 48,788 non-custodial parents and 64,927 custodial parents.

The department also announced that parents who receive child support will soon receive a new debit card.

Child Support Services switched its card carriers from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank to KeyBank. Child support payments will start depositing to KeyBank cards June 17.

©2016 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.