LA County to host workshop for parents behind on child support

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The Los Angeles County agency responsible for enforcing child support has a new approach: friendly events in nice settings to get folks to pay up. There’s one this weekend.

The L.A. County Department of Child Support Services calls the workshop at the county arboretum in Arcadia “Let’s Seal a Deal on Your Past Due Child Support.” Deputy director Lori Cruz says she sent out 20,000 invitations to folks who are in arrears, offering an opportunity to set up payment plans. Why the arboretum?

"There’s been research that indicates that some people involved in the child support system don’t feel comfortable walking into a government office," said Cruz.

The agency has a caseload of 400,000 parents. Only about half are in compliance. By law, L.A. County can suspend the driver’s licenses and professional licenses of parents who are more than 30 days behind in child support. But Cruz says her staff will be equipped to end some suspensions on the spot.

"We’ll be able to release driver’s licenses and we will be able to accept credit cards, check and cash payments."

The new community outreach represents a gentler, service-oriented side to an agency that displays on its website — in mugshot fashion — the photos of its "Most Wanted Delinquent Parents."

Some of those pictured are stamped with the word “JAILED.” Cruz with Child Support Services says she’s expecting hundreds of parents at the workshop. She says those parents who owe child support, but didn’t get an invitation, are still welcome to come.

The workshop is at the L.A. County Arboretum on North Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday.