Child Support

Brandi Jones assists customers over the phone at the Hopkins County Child Support Unit on Tuesday.

Just a month into the position as director of the Hopkins County Child Support Unit, Assistant County Attorney Hillary Lantrip is adjusting to not only operating a government entity during COVID — but she’s doing so while facing budget cuts as well.

Lantrip met with the Hopkins County Fiscal Court at their Oct. 20 meeting talking about the possibility of losing an employee should financial aid not come into the office.

“Right now, we have four full-time caseworkers and one part-time receptionist and myself as a full-time attorney,” said Lantrip. “Each case worker has an average of 650 cases apiece. We have these cases for a very long time.”

Lantrip said the office is ranked 17 out of 120 counties in Kentucky. She said the ranking is based on how many people apply for child support and are able to have an order established for child support; the amount paternity establishment is done; the current support collection and what is being charged for current support and what is being collected for any backlogged child support.

“We ended up bringing in over $5 million this past fiscal year. Already, we are halfway through and we have reached our halfway point as far as what we put in last year,” said Lantrip. “We asked for additional funding, and we have given the court some stats. Also, with COVID in mind, there are a few things we wanted to make everybody aware of that we are able to do.”

Lantrip said the fiscal court has been on board and helpful with doing something temporary for the current fiscal year. However, the next fiscal year is when the office is in danger of losing an employee.

“We’ve talked about what we are going to do as far as what kind of plan we can do so they can help us,” said Lantrip. “We could potentially lose an employee. We wouldn’t be able to do as well as we do now if that happens.”

Lantrip said adjusting to COVID has allowed the office to intercept stimulus checks in cases where child support is still owed. Interceptions are normally done with income such as tax refunds.

“It has been an extensive process,” said Lantrip.

Lantrip said the office will also move forward with programs called the Payment Matching Agreement and the Lump Sum Payment Matching Agreement.

Both agreements allow contracts to be made for those that owe money to the state only.

“If you will sign up and do this contract with our office and pay your obligation on time every time for once a month the state will match what you pay at the end of the year as long as you don’t miss a payment,” said Lantrip.

Lump sum agreements are a significant amount of money paid at once also with a matching payment from the state if approved.

Lantrip said applications for this are being created.

“We want to be proactive and send out letters with those request forms for those that still owe,” said Lantrip. “They will have the option to request that.”

Lantrip also said changes to people’s incomes because of COVID have impacted what can be collected.

“We have made some changes to child support obligations,” said Lantrip. “We have changed how we handle those in our office. With COVID going on a lot of people have been laid off and the income has changed. What we would like for the community to know is that if they can get any proof of income whether unemployment or nothing ... we can move a little bit more quickly as far as reviewing it making sure we have all the documentation we need, and having all that up front makes it go by a lot quicker and having everything taken care of.”

Lantrip also is encouraging traffic to the newly made Facebook page for the office. It can be found at Support.