New options for child support payments available in San Mateo County

The San Mateo County Human Services Agency is promoting a new payment option for parents who need to use cash to make their child support payments.

Using the PayNearMe service, non­custodial parents can make payments at 7­-Eleven, ACE Cash Express or Family Dollar stores.

ACE Cash Express has locations in San Francisco, San Jose and the East Bay, while Family Dollar stores can be found in Davis, Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Of the three chains, 7-­Eleven is the only one operating on the Peninsula.

To use the new service, parents who owe child support enter their state­-issued participant identification in a special form on the PayNearMe website, which then generates a bar code that can be printed or sent to a smart phone. Making a payment is as simple as presenting the reusable bar code, with cash, at a participating store.

Noncustodial parents using the system are charged a $1.99 fee for each payment. Parents without access to smartphones or printers can obtain a bar code from their local child support office.

The addition of the PayNearMe service comes after the state of California gave parents the option of using MoneyGram for cash child support payments earlier this year. Both options are transparent to recipients, who receive their funds from the state just as they always have.

In a previous interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Human Services Agency Director of Child Support Iliana Rodriguez explained that about 8,000 parents in San Mateo County are owed child support each month, and roughly 5,000 of the noncustodial parents owing those payments live outside the county or state.

Federal law requires all parents who owe child support have their wages garnished, with the monies deducted from their paychecks automatically sent to the custodial parents. But according to Rodriguez, about 21 percent of parents who owe child support do not have their wages garnished, for reasons that can include being self­-employed, working for cash or having no employer of record.

Paying via credit card or mailing a check to the state disbursement center can be a challenge for such parents, because many do not have bank accounts, Rodriguez said. And because payments owed to parents in San Mateo County would have to be delivered to a county office, living outside the area can compound that challenge, Rodriguez.

If the county’s experience with the MoneyGram payment option is any indicator, the addition of PayNearMe is likely to increase the amount of child support funds successfully collected.

Since the rollout of the MoneyGram option in January, San Mateo County has collected about $44,000 via that payment method, according to county spokeswoman Michelle Durand.

That represents 13 percent of all new child support collections in the county this year, Durand said, adding that total child support collections statewide since January equal more than $2 million.

For more information about using PayNearMe or MoneyGram to make child support payments, visit http://dcss.smcgov.org or call (866) 901­3212.

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