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Deadbeat dads, pay up or get Posted

Ashley Milne-Tyte Oct 17, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Westchester County New York is a middle- to upper-middle-class suburb of New York City. Not necessarily the kind of place where you’d expect to find a lot of deadbeat dads. But a decade ago that’s exactly what it was. Westchester had the worst record in the state for tracking down parents who were behind in their child support. Moms or Dads. Today the collection rate’s a good deal better. But still not good enough for the county. So today it stepped up the pressure. Ashley Milne-Tyte has that story.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: County officials placed an ad in today’s New York Post. It contains four snapshots of so-called deadbeat dads, taken in happier times, complete with a tagline reading “Pay up, or your face will be here next.”

Westchester County Executive Andy Spano says it’s time to shame delinquent parents into doing their duty:

ANDY SPANO:“This issue is a big deal, we have so many families that you know just can’t manage, some of them it goes to basic needs like food, y’know, shelter, clothing. . . “

The men owe a combined $192,000 in child support. Nationally, there’s been an increase in child support payments. The government’s Office of Child Support Enforcement says it collected about 20 percent more payments last year than in 2001.

Still, Diana Zuckerman of the National Research Center for Women and Families says there’s room for improvement.

DIANA ZUCKERMAN:“And it’s a sad situation when they have to resort to this kind of publicity, but I think in some cases it really is the best chance that they’re going to have to try to get this money.”

Westchester County’s Andy Spano certainly hopes so. He’s had calls from far and wide, if not quite from the people he expected.

SPANO:“Most of them have been from other women, who have called us up and want pictures of their husbands in here.”

Spano’s had to refer them to their local districts to try to pin down their own deadbeats.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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