A more than two-year backlog in the Nassau Department of Social Services has delayed payment of $1.2 million in court-ordered child support payments to thousands of parents over a two-year period, according to Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.
In a report released Thursday, Maragos urged the department to overhaul its record keeping to “ensure that every dollar is paid in a timely manner to needy” parents.
Under state law, when a parent is ordered by a Family Court judge to pay child support, the money is first collected by the state and then distributed to each county to disburse to the parent or guardian with custody of the child.
Last year, Nassau DSS collected about $96 million in child support payments to be distributed among 7,500 individuals.
The comptroller’s review of child support financial records from January 2013 to April 2015 found that the social services support collection unit routinely failed to review the list of undistributed funds to determine why the money had not been released to the corresponding parent.
As of December, the delayed payments totaled $1.2 million.
Social services officials blamed the in part on staffing shortages in the support collection unit, which disburses child support payments.
Last year, there were 53 workers in the unit, down from 114 in 2004, according to the report.
“At one time we were able to designate an entire unit the task of researching and reducing,” the undisbursed payments, “we are no longer able to do that,” DSS officials wrote in March 14 response to the comptroller’s findings.
Social services officials said they were taking “ongoing corrective action towards reducing” the undistributed child support payments.
Officials said child support caseworkers have been working to locate families who may not have been issued payments.