Illinois: Child-support story takes new twist: Mother with grown kids gets checks : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Illinois: Child-support story takes new twist: Mother with grown kids gets checks


J udy Tribble has a problem with child support.

That's not particularly unusual. Thousands of women in Illinois have had trouble with child support since the state centralized its system in Wheaton last fall.

Unlike most of them, Judy Tribble gets child support checks. Unlike most of them, Judy Tribble doesn't need child support checks.

Her children are 23 and 33. She has been divorced from their father for more than 20 years.

She has been remarried for 13 years. A little extra money is always nice, but the time for piano lessons and basketball shoes is gone.

Yet even if the kids were little and she was a single mom, Judy wouldn't expect child support payments from Howard Coonrod.

He died in 1995.

"It really is a mess," she said.

When Judy got a phone call about child support last fall, she was taken by surprise and gave her Social Security number over the phone as verification. Co-workers warned she might have been the victim of a scam, so she made some hurried calls to check it out. She found this was indeed past-due child support, in the amount her husband used to send - from a dozen years earlier.

"The one I received that was mine was $117-something," she said. "But where it had been for 13 years, I don't know."

That was a pleasant surprise, but the state had a few more. Checks continued to arrive, now cut for $40 each. Pretty sure they weren't intended for her children, Judy started making some phone calls to trace the checks' rightful owners. "I called Springfield. They told me they'd never heard of anybody trying to give money back," she said.

She returned the checks for October and November, as she was told. For awhile it seemed the problem was solved. Then she got three more $40 checks for January, two of them dated Jan. 12.

"When they started doubling up, I thought, 'I've got to do something,'" she said. Beyond reading about the state-wide problems, Judy works for Lutheran Social Services.

She knows about people who have real needs. She was tired of making calls downstate on her calling card during breaks from work, but she wanted to see the money get to its rightful owner. (Her calls did convince her it isn't overdue support for her own children.

They just didn't seem to stop the checks from coming.)

"People are crying for this money and need it," she said.

Judy lives in Canton, but she hadn't called her state representative, Mike Smith. His legislative assistant, Amy Martindale, said the office has referred "a couple hundred" child support problems in the last few months. Only one other caller wanted to return money. "I have a form I will have her fill out," Martindale said, taking Judy's phone number and adding that they have had fair success solving the problems they have referred.

Joyce Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Aid, also volunteered to call Judy.

"The bottom line is, we are still dealing with some data problems," Jackson said. "I certainly will see what we can do to get this corrected because that's certainly what it is - incorrect information."

An hour later, Judy had indeed received some calls. It looks like her problem is solved; it may be she was getting her grandchild's misdirected checks. (And she was told she'll probably get some more, so this isn't over yet.)

"Regardless, I hope it helps somebody," she said.

One down, a few thousand to go.


-- Carl Jenkins (, February 15, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ