AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today joined with area legislators to announce recent improvements in child support customer service programs, including the new Harris County Child Support Call Center and the Child Support Interactive Section of the Attorney General's website.
"I am committed to improving every aspect of child support--especially customer service," said Attorney General Cornyn. "These improvements will help parents get answers more quickly and efficiently. For example, because of the Harris County Call Center, we have increased the phone call answer rate from 10% to 91%. That is good, but I will be satisfied only when we achieve 100%."
When Attorney General Cornyn assumed office in 1999, the statewide call center received approximately 1.3 million calls in a typical month. All calls to local child support offices were automatically forwarded to this statewide call center, creating a tremendous backlog of calls. Half a million of these calls were handled by an automated system, but 800,000 callers wanted to speak with a customer service representative. Unfortunately, only 10% percent, approximately 80,000 calls, were actually answered. The rest of the calls were automatically disconnected or frustrated callers hung up the phone.
With the new call center, Harris County parents seeking assistance with child support cases can now call a local number, (713) 243-7100, instead of calling the statewide call center.
The Child Support Division, at the direction of Attorney General Cornyn, implemented a phone call pilot project and started requiring some offices to answer calls to decrease the call volume at the statewide call center. After assessing the success of the pilot project, Attorney General Cornyn received approval from the Legislature to hire additional staff to answer phones in new regional call centers including the Harris County Call Center. In January, the Harris County call answer rate was 91% (36,556 calls answered).
"We certainly have a long way to go, but I am hopeful that with teamwork and strong leadership we can make the changes that will truly improve child support," said Attorney General Cornyn.
Attorney General Cornyn also unveiled the Child Support Interactive section of the Attorney General's website at www.oag.state.tx.us. Visitors to the site can receive information about the child support program, request an application for services, and provide information on a delinquent parent. Custodial parents can check on payment information and case status on a secure page on the site. All of these services are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. During a trial period, the site received about 1,000 visits per day, and the number of visits is expected to grow rapidly.
The Attorney General is also sending public service announcements, in English and Spanish, to radio stations statewide in order to inform listeners about the new call centers in their area.
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