A VPS client since April 2015, the Colorado Division of Child Support Services (www.childsupport.state.co.us) began their search for an epayment partner in the summer of 2014. At the time, the VPS ChildSupportBillpay program had three clients. (Today there are 10 around the country.)
“At the time,” says Colorado Child Support FSR Manager, Lexie C. Barath, “many of the state Child Support agencies were in the same early stages of assessment for credit/debit card acceptance.”
Nonetheless, Colorado was able to call on people they knew at the State of Washington CS agency (a VPS early-adopter) and at the State of Indiana to discuss their programs. Indiana would become a “model” for the kind of performance Colorado wanted to see out of its e-payment program, says Barath.
Since April, the number of payments has increased by 75% through September, and total dollars collected on behalf of Colorado has grown by 55%.
“We had set an ambitious goal for ourselves, based on program performance in Indiana,” says Barath. “At first glance, we thought we were falling short of expectations. But on second look, we realized that Indiana has twice the child support clients we have. Plus they had an epayment program in-place, and then switched to VPS, whereas we were just starting our program.”
End-of-March/early April, Colorado went live with its credit/debit card acceptance program with onsite promotions in 54 collections counties. (There are 64 counties in Colorado, but the smallest counties by population are served by neighboring counties.)
“The most effective promotional item so far has proven to be the business card handout,” says Barath. “A couple of counties have requested second printings of these cards.” The cards are supported by posters, counter cards, and counter mats in the various county Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Units.
In the first week of October, VPS and Colorado rolled out an innovative promotional program: “Breast Cancer Awareness October.”
During the “Breast Cancer Awareness October” promotion, VPS donated $.50 per transaction made during the month to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (www.bcrfcure.org).
Employer Payment Portal
Federal and state regulations require that when an Order/Notice to Withhold Income For Child Support is received, an employer must start withholding child support and send child support to, most usually, a spouse or former spouse in accordance with a strictly defined timeline.
VPS developed an employer portal on the Colorado website that simplifies the transfer of support payments deducted directly from an employee’s paycheck and sent to the beneficiary. The employer can manage all obligor employees from a single screen, adding or deleting names, and making all payments in a single transaction.
Convenience fees are identical for debit and credit card payment of child support, both onsite in collections offices and online, a fee structure adopted so as not to favor one means of payment over the other, says Barath.
“We’re running about 50-50, debit to credit, which is within keeping of what we know from other VPS clients like Indiana.” And whether payments come via the AutoPay option or sequentially repeated is not something Colorado tracks, though Barath figures that 20–30% of payments are recurring.
For Barath, the most important figure is usage. A (weighted) comparison with the “model,” larger Indiana program—with its sizable head start— puts Colorado just about where it wants to be, with usage trending upward.