The initiative to increase pressure to collect back child support came after board members had discussed at length options available for increasing the effectiveness of the collection effort.
Board Member Dr. Delilah Blanks had repeatedly expressed her dismay and displeasure at individuals in her community, whom she said had openly refused to pay court-ordered child support.
Social Services Director Marvin Rouse told board members that at least one North Carolina county had advertised the names of deadbeat parents in a local newspaper in hopes that it would bring pressure on them to fulfill their child support obligations.
After discussing the issue on several occasions, the board voted earlier in the summer to advertise the names and dates of birth of individuals who owe delinquent child support in the county. The list would also contain the amount owed by the individuals.
The rules the board adopted for advertising the names in the Bladen Journal stipulated that only individuals who had not paid child support in the past six months would be included on the list.
A primary objective of the initiative was to locate individuals who owe child support. Rouse had stated that the Child Support unit and law enforcement had been unable to locate most of the individuals. Board members had stated that they hoped that members of the community who knew individuals on the list would report their whereabouts.
In a Thursday interview, Rouse said he is disappointed that community members have not reported new addresses on most of the individuals listed. He pointed out that he believes many of them are still in the area and that people in Bladen know their whereabouts.
"I believe that local people also know the whereabouts of many of those who have moved from this area as well," Rouse stated.
"So far, we have collected about $3,500 that can be attributed to our running the list of names in the paper," Rouse explained. "In addition, we have scheduled 72 individuals from the list for court.
"However, we have only had five people call in and tell us the whereabouts of individuals on the list," Rouse added. "We'd hoped for more response in finding these people."
The list contained the names of 453 individuals, who owe a total of $3,219,484 in back child support to families in Bladen County.
"We're still hoping the advertising of the names will get more results," Rouse said. "We will assess the overall success of the initiative in a couple of months."