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Pennsylvania uses texting to remind parents to pay child support

The state of Pennsylvania considers texting to be a good thing, when it comes to child support that is. The state's Department of Human Services (DHS) uses text messages to remind parents when they may have missed a child support payment, to inform those in need of work of area job fairs and to provide other information that may be useful to the state's residents. This method of communication has proved successful and has increased child support collection by over 30 percent statewide.

DHS finds that it is able to reach many more people with texting than with the automated-calling system that was in place previously. Texting is also cheaper and less time consuming than the land-line alternative. Because of changing or discontinued numbers, it could take several calls to reach a client. If the caller had to leave a message, he or she could never be sure the intended recipient received it. With the new system, the message delivery rate is close to 100 percent after just the first attempt.

The nearly 6,000 texts that are sent out on any given day concern topics from one of five categories the agency has included in the program. Although these messages do not only address reminders about child support payments, the state is experiencing a growth of almost 30 percent in collections. The agency says statewide amounts for child support per month have increased by $1 million, which they attribute to using the text messaging system that was implemented in 2013.

The state of Pennsylvania is open to using the latest technology available to collect child support from parents. Other than text messages, the state has a website that provides answers to questions and shows payment history for each case. It is the goal of the mass communication effort to reach as many parents as possible so that the state's custodial parents will have the income required to meet the needs of their children.

Source: poconorecord.com, "Article Preview: Pennsylvania text reminders increase child support compliance", Stacy M. Brown, Jan. 23, 2015

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