DHS grants 'Amnesty in August' to parents with overdue child support

DHS grants 'Amnesty in August' to parents with overdue child support

LAWTON, Okla._The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is offering 'Amnesty in August' to more than 11,000 parents with arrest warrants for overdue child support.

It will allow parents with past due payments to come in and repay their debt without fear of being arrested. In Comanche County alone, there are 164 active bench warrants that fall under that category.

For this office, it is about looking out for the children who can't look out for themselves. Making sure that they get the support they need from both parents so they never have to go without.

State attorney Gary Newberry has been working on child support cases for the last 20 years.

"It takes a lot to raise a child. It is a very expensive process and you know children deserve support from both parents, so if both parents aren't paying child support then often the child has to go without," Newberry explained.

Newberry says they chose the month of August because it can be a very costly time for custodial parents.

"This is the month where people are getting school supplies and school starts in about three weeks, and so that is one of the reasons why we wanted to do the amnesty project this month so we can hopefully get payments started quickly," Newberry said.

Newberry says they have already seen progress from the program in the last few days.

"We had a person that came in and paid $20,000 on his case yesterday, and that was from a 3-year-old bench warrant. I also had a person contact me with a 5-year-old bench warrant and we made arrangements on his case," Newberry explained.

Newberry is asking those parents to contact the Child Support Enforcement Office to get back on track with their child support.

"We understand people can't do anything about the past, but hopefully we can get people to be constructive and to move forward and to get their children the support that they deserve," Newberry said.

Parents can set up a payment plan or pay their debt in full. The designated amount of support to be paid is on a case-by-case basis.

This is the first time in 10 years that DHS has offered an amnesty program helping parents with warrants.