Initiative Hopes To Gain Thousands Of Overdue Child Support Dollars

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Memphis--- More Shelby County Children than ever are suffering from a lack of child support.  The economy is partially to blame for an overloaded child support system.

A huge chunk of the parents not paying, don’t have a paycheck. The Shelby County Child Support services offices is launching a new initiative called PROJECT N.O.W., Negotiating Outstanding Warrants.

Dad Devon Watson has four kids he has to provide for.

“They are my kids, I brought them here, so it’s important I take care of my kids," said Watson.

But after losing his job last November, he fell behind on his child support payments and lost his driver’s license. When he heard on the radio there was help available for parents behind on child support payments, he was shocked.

“I thought there was a catch to it at first, but I decided to stop in and see what it was .” said Watson.

Watson was one of many parents who filed into the Ed Rice or Whitehaven Community Centers Saturday, making payments to their back-child support and hoping to come up with a plan for the future.

It’s a new initiative administrator, Frenchell White-Phipps says was needed Mid-South. Tens of thousands of children aren’t being taken care of with their court-ordered child support.

“We need to understand why individuals aren’t making their obligations.  What’s behind it and you need to try and figure out a way to get them back on track.” Said White-Phipps.

For Watson, it’s a drivers license so he can find a job. For others, it might be a warrant.

“We want to remove that warrant so the individual can get out there, look for work, get a positive background check and then possibly get a job.” Said White-Phipps.

Some were hesitant to come in Saturday, asking if law enforcement was around. Police weren’t there. The organizers want the parents to feel free to get help with their situations.

“There is a lot of legal implications and so what we are trying to do is establish trust,” said White-Phipps.  A partnership she hopes leads to stronger families.

“It’s more than just that child support. It’s about that family unit it’s about being there for the children,” expressed White-Phipps.

If you missed Saturday’s event, you can visit the Shelby County Child Support Services office to get help. It is located at 3915 South Mendenhall Road.