Maximus spokesperson Hall from Nashville said Favors’ position on child support is too “extreme.” During the forum, said Hall, Favors told the audience, “‘Going to jail for [not paying] child support is like going sharecropping, being enslaved, prison labor.”
Nevertheless, Favors said custodial parents, mostly mothers, also had plenty to say during the forum.
“I was surprised with custodial parents too, who came and said they were not receiving their payments in a timely matter,” she said.
Baker, a custodial parent, said she believes her own experience with Maximus is a good indicator as to what many other parents are going through.
In 2006, Baker wanted her daughter’s father to accept responsibility for her upbringing, so they went to family court to establish child support. The judge determined the father, who was employed with benefits, was a year behind in child support and ordered him to pay nearly $7,000 in arrears and provide health insurance. He paid the arrears, but never provided health insurance.
“I contacted Maximus many times to ask them to enforce the insurance issue, but Maximus told me there was ‘nothing they could do for me,’” Baker said, adding that she was confused as to why they wouldn’t just enforce the order.
She turned to the DHS for help.
“They sent me a letter saying I would have to contact Maximus about my complaints, since they have jurisdiction over child support collections for my county, and that they could not assist me with anything child-support related,” she said. “In 2007, I was forced to go on Medicaid since Maximus and the state refused to enforce the order, which stated the non-custodial parent was responsible for providing insurance.”
Earlier this year, she received a letter from DHS telling her that both the court and Maximus had made a “mistake.” DHS said Maximus had not deliberately denied health coverage, but the corporation had misinterpreted the court order believing it was her responsibility to provide coverage for her daughter.
Baker loathed going on Medicaid, but she had no choice but to accept what the system offered her.
“All of us who are forced to deal with Maximus child support are, in my eyes, at the mercy of a giant corporation and local governments that are clearly working together to make a profit from child-support collections,” she said. “Politicians on a local level do not want to suffer the heat from an under-performing juvenile court system, and Maximus is more than happy to collect their millions, under-perform and not give a crap about child-support collections.”
John Lasker is an Ohio-based investigative reporter whose work has appeared in more than 50 newspapers and magazines, including Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, Agence France Press, Truthdig and the Cleveland Scene. In 2010, Lasker received a grant from the Knight Foundation to write about U.S. military servicewomen and military sexual trauma, for which he won a 2012 Project Censored award.