ATLANTA — The Office of Child Support Services is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. OCSS will mark this milestone during the month of May as it celebrates Child Support Services month with a variety of activities at each local office. Gov. Sonny Perdue designated May as Child Support Services Month in Georgia.
“There is no better time to celebrate 35 years of public service than during Child Support Services month,” said Keith Horton, director of the Office of Child Support Services. “We are extremely excited about this milestone and will work to continue improving our processes which ultimately will help build stronger families in Georgia.”
DHR was given authority and state funding in 1972 to create a Child Support Recovery Unit as a pilot project in Fulton County. In 1973, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Child Support Recovery Act. This Act turned the Child Support Recovery Unit into a permanent state program.
The program increased in popularity and the demand for services exceeded the ability of the seven person staff to supply the services statewide. Since then the program has grown to serve one out of every five children under the age of 18 in Georgia. To date, OCSS has a statewide staff of 1,428 employees who manage over 410,000 cases. During fiscal year 2007 over $651 million was collected and distributed to families.
Over the years, federal legislation and policy has been the driving force for the changes in the Child Support program. The federal government provided matching funding beginning in 1975 that allowed the program to rapidly expand.
The introduction of requirements for state child support guidelines in the 1980s and a certified computer system in the 1990s, as well as federal welfare reform legislation in 1996, further revolutionized the program. The program’s name in Georgia has changed from enforcement to support services over the years to reflect its ongoing evolution.