Virginia has one year to correct four major violations in its child support collection efforts or face losing $900,000 in federal funds for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, a state official says.
Harry W. Wiggins, director of the state's Division of Child Support Enforcement, told the state Senate Finance Committee on Friday that the penalty would equal 1 percent of the $90 million in federal AFDC benefits paid to Virginia each year.
He said that if the state does not correct the violations, federal officials plan to withhold the money in quarterly installments of $225,000.
Federal officials discovered the violations in an audit of the child support collection program for 1984-85. Georgia R. Short, special assistant to state Human Resources Secretary Eva S. Teig, said that audit, the most recent one, found that Virginia was not in compliance with federal standards for:
Establishing support orders, a process that involves preparing and taking to court AFDC cases to secure support payments from parents of children receiving welfare benefits.
Intercepting unemployment benefits from absent parents to pay child support.
Distributing child support benefits to AFDC families in a timely fashion. The state is allowed to retain most support payments for children receiving AFDC to offset the cost of the program.
The state was given 60 days to submit "a corrective action plan" to regional officials of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Wiggins and other state officials said they could not speculate on the federal government's acceptance of a proposed three-year, $24.1 million overhaul of the child support collection division. The revamped system will be considered by the General Assembly.
About 55,000 Virginia households receive AFDC benefits. Wiggins' division is pursuing child support orders on 14,000 of those, Wiggins said.