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Some County Workers Behind in Child Support

Times Staff Writer

Hundreds of Los Angeles County employees, including many in child welfare and law enforcement agencies, are delinquent in court-ordered child support payments.

A report ordered by the Board of Supervisors and made available Wednesday shows that 635 county employees--out of a work force of about 70,000--are behind in child support. In about one-third of those cases, public welfare has been needed at some point to help support the children, the report says.

The report, the first of its kind by the county, indicated that 44 employees of the Sheriff’s Department, 52 employees of the Probation Department, 19 employees of the Department of Children’s Services and 40 employees of the Department of Public Social Services, which oversees family welfare programs, are in arrears. No names or job categories of the employees involved were released.

Sheriff Sherman Block said his department views failure to pay child support as a “serious abdication of responsibility” but has been specifically blocked by a court ruling in a 1982 case from initiating any disciplinary action against deputies involved.

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Recommendations Asked

Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who requested the data, has asked Chief Administrative Officer James Hankla for recommendations on what action should be taken against the employees. "(Hahn) felt that since county government includes the district attorney and includes the courts, we are basically the level of government in charge of making sure all (support) payments are made,” Dan Wolf, Hahn’s press spokesman, said. “We should be setting the best example we can.”

The figures, developed by Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner’s child support division, came from a computer match of child support cases and employee records. An aide to Reiner stressed that the figures are only “raw data” that must now be analyzed on a case-by-case basis before any action is taken.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who has been pressuring Reiner and county officials to make tens of thousands of so-called “deadbeat dads” catch up on child support, said the Board of Supervisors should now adopt a personnel regulation, similar to one recently enacted in the city of Washington, requiring employees to keep up child support payments or face severe penalties, including possible firing.

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“My question is, Why haven’t they done this in the past?” she said.


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