Big changes could be coming to juvy court - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Big changes could be coming to juvy court

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Some parents in Shelby County may be forced to wait longer than usual for their child support checks this month because of a big change in the system.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services says Juvenile Court performed poorly so they're opening up child custody collections to private firms.

But, according to Juvenile Court Chief Counsel Larry Scroggs, with 114,000 active child support cases a year in Shelby County, a private firm would cause a backlog.

"Our biggest concern really has to do with the impact it might have on slowing up or delaying the process of paying of support," Scroggs said.

Department of Human Services Commissioner Virginia Lodge says a new firm would actually speed things up.  And, she disagrees with Scroggs' concerns a private firm would mean county taxpayers spend up to two million dollars more a year.

"The contract itself will be for $3 million less than the state is spending right now," she said.

The state says it's premature to say they'll cut staff, but Scroggs has concerns.

"That involves about 240 people, who are county employees," he said.

Lodge says the bottom line was poor performance.

"They're not getting the number of cases under orders that they need," she said. "They're dead last in the state."

Scroggs says the court has increased collections by 20 percent in the last year.  Now, they're asking area lawmakers to try to persuade the state to change its decision.

The new firm would be awarded the contract in nine days and start in July.

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