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Oklahoma Child Support Collections Set Record

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The state collected a record $230 million owed in child support in fiscal year 2006, an increase of more than 15 percent over the previous year.

This puts Oklahoma second in the nation for the percentage growth in child-support collections, state officials said Wednesday.

"It's a really exciting program in a sense that we're able to help a lot of people," said Gary Dart, director of the division within the Department of Human Services.

Child-support collections are up 119 percent compared with 1999, the first year that the figure topped $100 million.

Still, Oklahoma's child-support payment rate is only about 50 percent, which matches national trends.

"It's a constant job of trying to do better," Dart said. "We are able to help more people all the time."

The state uses an automated system to match delinquent parents to any bank accounts in their name. Similar programs can find parents when they are hired for a new job, receive tax refunds and even use a passport.

Next year, parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support won't be able to use their passports. That's down from the current $5,000 minimum.

"A lot of it is technology and working smarter," Dart said. "As the program grows, we're able to use more resources and have more tools available to us."
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