An online system aimed at facilitating easier payment of child support is becoming increasingly popular in Virginia, according to the state Department of Social Services. The system, known as $4KIDS, saw its highest usage numbers in 2011, with 57 of all child services being submitted online. In addition to helping non-custodial parents more easily make child support payments, officials with the Virginia DSS say the system has also reduced administrative expenses.

The system was launched in 2007 and subsequently redesigned in 2009 in Virginia Interactive, who secured a $99,000 contract with the state. Since the redesign, the system has processed over $60.5 million in over 325,000 payments. The system, which allows parents to make payments at any time via website or phone, has resulted in a $260,000 average increase in monthly child support payments. The program may have contributed to Virginia's record-setting year, with the DSS collecting $648 in child support payments during the course of the year, a 2 percent increase over 2010.

An official with the Virginia Department of Social Services said that the system's reliability and convenience are largely to thank for its success. He explained, "On average, it is a two- to three-day difference between making a payment electronically as opposed to dropping a check in the mail." Officials with the state expect use of the system to continue its upward trend.

About 462,000 Virginia children, nearly 25 percent of the state's total child population, received child support in 2011. Despite the state's high rate of collections, these children are still owed $2.8 billion in delinquent payments.

Source: Delmarva Now, "VA DSS: Online child support program gains traction," Michael Felberbaum, Jan. 21, 2012