Wisconsin's child support agencies may stave off budget cuts because of the projection that the state will take in roughly $500 million more over the next two years.
The groups, which help collect child support from parents around the state, were facing a roughly 25 percent cut due to a decline in funding from both the federal and state governments.
"With any newfound resources, some of our priorities that we weren't able to fund in the past will allow us to have additional resources to do that," said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), the co-chair of the legislature's Joint Finance Committee. "So we're not going to commit to any one program today but we are going to look to see if they make sense in the long run. I personally think child support funding is something we will take a serious look at."
Agencies around the state were preparing for a reduction in staff and an inability to track down some of the worst offenders at not paying their legally obligated support.
"We've got far fewer child support workers who are able to look at these cases," said Brad Logsdon, who runs the Dane County Child Support Agency. "We're trying to make adjustments and do what we can to lessen the impact on the families and children here in Dane County and around the state, but it is frustrating. I've had a mom or dad call and say, 'We need this child support. I'm going to get evicted or I'm being foreclosed on my house, I really need this money."
Figures released by the Department of Children and Families show Wisconsin provided full case-management services to 357,783 families in 2011 and partial help to another 127,431 families. The county agencies collected more than $600 million for Wisconsin children that year, or $6.44 for every $1 spent on the program.
State lawmakers are in the process of figuring out the 2014-2015 budget.