CINCINNATI - Five former welfare recipients alleged in a federal class-action lawsuit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court here that Ohio Job and Family Services wrongly withheld millions of dollars in child support child.
The five people, including a Maumee woman, claim they're owed between $643 and $5,505 in back child support payments that the state kept while they were on welfare.
The complaint was brought against the state Job and Family Services and all 88 counties' child enforcement agencies.
The women's attorney, Robert Newman, said the state agency owes as much as $100 million in back child support pay from as early as 1986.
Department spokesman Jon Allen said that any child support money owed to mothers dating to 1997 has been repaid and that mothers can request an audit if they think they are owed more.
Mr. Allen said an executive order issued by Gov. Bob Taft in 2001 ensured that about $15 million was paid to 66,000 mothers to correct any improper handling of child support cases since 1997.
Mr. Newman said the women who filed the suit were forced to request state assistance because their former partners stopped sending them child support. When the support payments were resumed, the state's payments ended, but the department used part of the support payments to repay the money the women received from the state, he said.
In a news conference outside the federal courthouse in Toledo, Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, said a centralized support collection and distribution wrongly miscalculated the past-due child support payments for Ohio families.
“The lawsuit asks that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and all 88 county child support agencies refund to the families money that they allegedly took and stole from them,” Ms. Jensen said.