ELIZABETHTOWN — For all intents and purposes, Bladen County is offering a free get out of jail card to those non-custodial parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments and now have a warrant out for their arrest.
In a partnership between the county’s Department of Social Services, Johnson Law Firm and Bladen County courts, the county’s first-ever Child Support Amnesty Day will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8, starting at 9:30 a.m. and going until the court docket is finished.
The event will be held in the child support court at the Bladen County Courthouse in Elizabethtown.
“This is an opportunity for non-custodial parents to resolve their outstanding child support orders for arrest without the fear of being arrested,” Vickie Smith, DSS director, told the Bladen County Board of Commissioners recently.
The idea was initiated by Judge Scott Ussery after he saw that other counties had tried the program with some success.
According to Martha Howe, supervisor of the county’s Child Support Division of DSS, the individual must appear in court and bring at least $500 (per case).
“However, if they can’t bring $500, they should call their caseworker and discuss a process to get things back on track and avoid their arrest,” Howe said.
Bladen County’s goal for child support collections, which are set each year by the state, is $3,699,802 for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Howe said the number of delinquent cases, as well as the number of affected children, changes on a monthly basis.
“But there are quite a few that we haven’t been able to locate,” she added. “We do have a lot of resources to look for these people, and eventually they do pop up.”
Those who want to find out if they qualify for the Child Support Amnesty Day should contact their caseworker by calling 910-862-6868.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.