Tuesday, December 9, 1997
Former Packer football great takes field to support Wisconsin's children
|Sean Jones celebrates the Packers' Super Bowl victory with son Dylan|
The State of Wisconsin is teaming up with former Green Bay Packer Sean Jones against a tough opponent: unpaid child support.
The retired Packer great is taking the field in a public awareness blitz to encourage delinquent parents to meet their obligations. Through television, radio, and newspaper public service announcements and wall posters Jones will help the state put out the word this month.
Meanwhile, stepped-up enforcement legislation is being proposed to help the children of parents who consistently refuse to pay their court-ordered child support.
"Our message is a positive one," said Linda Stewart, Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development. "Paying child support is the law and it is the right thing to do! Failure to pay child support is a crime with victims: the children of Wisconsin."
Stewart said the initiative is part of Gov. Tommy Thompson's pro-family agenda. Thousands of Wisconsin children have been thrown into poverty and welfare dependency when non-custodial parents refuse to meet their responsibilities, she said.
Wisconsin ranks high among the states in collecting child support. Even so, payments are collected in only about one-third of the cases. That means that $933 million in unpaid support is owed on behalf of nearly 185,000 Wisconsin families and more than 400,000 children.
In television public service announcements that are as exciting and hard-hitting as Sean Jones was for the Super Bowl-winning Packers, the standout defensive end says: "A Child Without Support is like a Player Without a Team - Nowhere!"
The spot ends with Mr. Jones hoisting aloft his young son Dylan in the New Orleans Super Dome at the completion of last year's Super Bowl game - a triumphant moment shared by a strong man who is proud of his family.
The Department of Workforce Development is supporting legislation with bipartisan sponsorship: State Representatives Mike Huebsch and John La Fave and State Senators Robert Wirch and Carol Roessler. Their bill provides for stepped-up enforcement efforts, including:
The measures would be taken only against those who are under court order to pay child support and who are consistently in arrears. Affected parents will have the opportunity to contest enforcement actions in a hearing process.
Starting January 1, employers will report new hires to the state every 20 days to quickly locate delinquent parents who move from job to job to avoid paying their child support.
"W-2 (Wisconsin Works) stresses the need for single-parent families to become self-sufficient, take responsibility for their actions, and work to support their children. The absent parent can be held no less responsible," said Stewart, who department administers both programs. "Our hope is that when noncustodial parents contribute financially, they will also begin to contribute to their children's emotional well being."