Ocean Springs resident Tracie Hicks juggles a heavy workload. She works full time and is raising two sons. On Wednesday, she was shocked when she read a letter she received from the Department of Human Services.
"This is a letter that came to me from DHS stating that I owe the state a $25 fee for collection of child support being that I do not draw any type of assistance from the state, such as welfare," Hicks said.
According to the letter, a federal law went into effect in October of last year. The law requires a $25 annual fee be paid to the state when the Department of Human Services has to go after parents who have not paid child support. The parent who recieves child support is charged the fee.
"It's actually charging my child a fee, coming out of my child support. In fact, the bottom of the letter states that failure to pay this fee may result in law enforcement measures which may be a suspension of license, deduction of future support payments," Hicks said.
Gulfport resident Denise Pierce received the same letter.
"I was pretty shocked about it. I called my case worker, and of course, they weren't there. They left messages, and they never returned my calls," Pierce said.
Pierce is also a mother of two. She began collecting child support when her teenage daughter was three years old. Pierce says even to this day, every bit counts.
"It's only $25 to them, it doesn't come out of their pocket. It' comes out of hers, my daughters," Pierce said.
Both Pierce and Hicks agree that the $25 fee should be dropped or billed to the parents who the state must go after for child support.
We contacted the local Department of Human Services and were referred to the office in Jackson. Our calls there were not returned.