A Kansas father believes the state’s Department of Children and Families sending of postcards to remind non-custodial parents to pay their child support is an invasion of privacy.
The father, referred to only as Scott, lives in northeast Kansas and makes child support payments for his 17-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.
"I was utterly shocked," Scott told KWCH. "Not only shocked, but embarrassed that they would be sending these cards out as public knowledge."
The information on the postcard is something Scott believes should be private.
"I live in a very small town and it's like, why don't you just put a sign in my front yard saying 'Hey here's a non-custodial parent and he's paying child support,'" Scott said. "I don't get month statements, but I get this card in the mail."
Theresa Freed, the communication director for Child Support Services, part of the Department of Children and Families, said privacy should not be expected when it comes to child support.
"Child support records or court orders for payment are not private records so they are available through the court system," said Freed.
Freed added that the office began using the postcards several months ago and they are only sent to individuals who are delinquent on their payments.
"These post cards are fairly discrete, but they do make clear that the individual does owe child support, not for the purpose of shaming anyone, but for the purpose of remind[ing] them," Freed said. "You ask any parents who have children in their home and are not getting their child support payments and they will tell you it is vital."
Scott says he understands the importance of making child support payments but does not understand why the notice could not be in a sealed statement so it remains private.
"I will never complain about support because I know that is a valid need," Scott said. “I created those children and I do want to be an active partner in their life. I know the amount that is due every month, it's paid every month.”
"If they say this is acceptable then what's next?" Scott said. "How far will they push that privacy or that invasion, what's next?"
Scott’s vocal outrage over the use of postcards comes at the same time the Kansas Department of Labor and the Department for Children and Families announced a new campaign aimed at increasing the collection of child support payments from unmarried or separated parents.
The new advertising campaign will appeal to businesses with the hope that they will report new hires for collection purposes, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. Reported new hires received by the Department of Labor will be checked against a list of individuals who owe support and if a match occurs, the state will garnish the individual's wages.