Parents in Stanislaus County are now able to pay their child support in cash at thousands of MoneyGram locations throughout the state.
Previously, parents paying cash could only do so by visiting a county or regional local child support agency that accepts in-office payments. Those who stand to benefit the most by paying through MoneyGram are the self-employed, those working seasonal jobs and those who don't engage in traditional banking.
"We are pleased to be able to expand services and make payments easier for participants," said California State Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) Director Alisha Griffin. "This will not only benefit the parents who owe child support, but it will also translate into more payments for their children."
There are approximately 6,200 MoneyGram locations in California that provide bill payment services. Payments can be made at 18 retail chains including CVS, Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Lucky, Raley's/Bel Air, Food Maxx, 7-Eleven and others.
To make a payment through MoneyGram, parents will need their personal Participant Identification Number (PAR ID) and the group "Receive Code 14630." MoneyGram charges child support customers a $1.99 convenience fee. For most residents within Stanislaus County that is less than the cost of the gas needed to drive to the child support office. Payments can take up to three days to post, so parents are advised to plan accordingly.
Child support payments may also be made online, by phone and by mail. In-person payments are available at the local child support offices that accept payments. Fees are not charged for using these payment options.
When the state tested the MoneyGram service in a pilot program with the Contra Costa County Department of Child Support Services earlier this year, 127 child support payments totaling $38,228 were made through MoneyGram in just six weeks. In 13 of those transactions, it was the first time a payment had been made in more than five months. Six of those transactions were made on cases that had not received a payment in more than a year.
Tamara Thomas, director for the Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services has been looking forward to implementing the MoneyGram option since watching the success of the Contra Costa experience.
"Our department recently had a self-employed parent who is a truck driver call our agency requesting to make a payment," said Thomas. "He was stranded in Nebraska due to inclement weather and only had cash available to make his monthly payment. As the MoneyGram pilot project had not yet been rolled out to other counties, I contacted Contra Costa who provided information for him to be able to make the payment at a MoneyGram kiosk at a Walmart in Nebraska. It was a win for everyone involved. The parent was able to make his monthly payment and his child and family received the financial resources they needed for the holidays. I've been anticipating being able to offer every one of our parents easier access and options to making payments."
The new payment option went into effect on Jan. 12.
DCSS and the 51 local child support agencies operate the second largest child support system in the nation. The department works collaboratively with the local agencies, the courts, county health and human services entities, employers and various state and federal agencies to help parents provide for their children.
For information about payment options or to make a payment online, visit www.childsup.ca.gov/PaymentOptions or call 866-901-3212.