Kentucky considers moving child support collection to attorney general's office

Lawmakers are recommending child support enforcement be moved out of the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services after review found a significant amounts haven't been collected.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear

December 26, 2022 10:40am

Updated: December 26, 2022 11:03am

Kentucky lawmakers are recommending child support enforcement be moved out of the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services and given to the attorney general’s office after a review found a significant amount yet to be collected and enforcement challenges at the county level.

That was one of the recommendations from the CHFS Organizational Structure, Operations and Administration Task Force. That panel included both state House and Senate members that met between sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly.

The Task Force found outstanding child support payments total $1.4 billion and only about 56% of all current child support has been paid. In a report issued last month, the task force said there was “no standardized threshold” for the state’s Department of Income Support to take over collection responsibilities from county attorneys.

The task force is also calling on agencies within the cabinet to improve efficiencies for managing Medicaid. It also wants to separate the ombudsman and the inspector general from the secretary’s office to ensure those watchdog positions remain independent.

In addition, the panel raised concerns about possible fiscal challenges after one-time COVID-19 relief funds are exhausted.

Members met six times after the General Assembly concluded its 2022 session in the spring, hearing testimony from representatives of several agencies.

“Improving the operations of the state’s largest executive agency will improve services for the people reliant on them and will ultimately lead to cost savings for the Kentucky taxpayer,” said state Sen. Steve Meredith, R-Leitchfield and a task force co-chair, in a statement last week. “I appreciate everyone’s dedicated work over the past few months and am hopeful our work can continue into 2023.”

The task force wants to continue its work due to the size of the cabinet, which includes more than 90 agencies and 6,600 workers.

Members also learned the state will have a significant need for treating the elderly in the coming decades. As more Kentuckians grow older, the state is expected to need 37% more home health workers by 2028. By 2050, the number of geriatricians in the state will need to increase by 430% to meet demand.

A message to a cabinet spokesperson seeking comment was not returned.