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Updated: 02/02/2012 10:11 PM
Created: 02/02/2012 7:55 PM | Print |  Email
By: Mark Albert

Hennepin Co. Error Erases $5.9M in Owed Child Support

nullImagine being owed tens of thousands of dollars and having that debt erased.

It happened to one Twin Cities mother, who contacted 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Her child support case was closed by mistake - a mistake that could cost the state millions of dollars in federal funding and lead to lawsuits from affected families, state officials have warned.

As 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Mark Albert found out, Hennepin county child support staff wrongly closed 217 cases worth $5.9 million in debt owed to families. DHS is now conducting an audit in all of the state's 87 counties into a Case Closed.

Watch our follow-up investigation from Feb. 2, 2012 above.

Watch our original investigation from Nov. 23, 2011.



Click here to read DHS's Dec. 16, 2011 letter "expanding the scope" of the audit.

Click here to read DHS's Dec. 28, 2011 letter to Hennepin county warning that its actions "violate federal regulations and expose the county and the state to the potential for lawsuits..."

Click here to read Hennepin county's Jan. 25, 2012 response to DHS in which the county states that despite reopening 217 cases, it's "highly unlikely" the $5.9 million owed will ever be paid to families.

Click here to read the two letters sent by Hennepin County that cited reasons for closing a Twin Cities mother's case - including that there had been "no payments in over 5 years" - that the MN Dept. of Human Services later determined to be "contrary to federal law."

If your child support case was closed for the same reason, the Minnesota Dept. of Human Services encourages you to contact your county or DHS directly.

Click here to see how many child support cases were closed ni 2011 statewide and the reasons given for the closures.

Click here to learn more about Child Support in Minnesota.

Watch an extended interview with Anne Barry, Dep. Commissioner of the MN Department of Human Services, talking about the department's efforts to make sure other cases aren't being improperly closed. (11/2011)