- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

Virginia officials who are hunting for deadbeat parents by publishing their photographs in newspapers are bringing their search to suburban Washington.

“This is to apprise the public that this is a major problem,” said Nick Young, director of the state’s Child Support Enforcement Division. “We’re not doing this to humiliate anyone.”

Officials say the program has been successful in southern regions of the state and that they expect similar results in Northern Virginia in the coming weeks.

Virginia is the first state to have such a program, which began in August when officials published a page of photographs in the Virginian-Pilot under the headline “Have you seen these parents?”

The ads resulted in eight arrests and the collection of $25,000 in delinquent child-support payments, Mr. Young said.

A similar ad Sept. 29 in a Roanoke newspaper led to 13 arrests and the collection of $17,000.

Officials said deadbeat mothers and fathers in Virginia owe roughly 474,000 children about $2.2 billion in back payments — an amount that has doubled in the past eight years.

The ads, with the delinquent amount posted beneath each photo, also promise $1,000 to a tipster who can lead officials to a deadbeat parent.

However, the mere announcement of the ads is often enough to bring delinquent parents out of hiding.

Photographs last week in the Richmond Times-Dispatch of four women and 43 men who owed $1.5 million to 145 children resulted in four arrests and the collection of $8,000. But five persons who learned about the ad before publication had their photographs and names removed. Two of them were arrested, and the other three paid $14,559.43.

Officials said the ads almost helped them arrest a major debtor, Lloyd Harrington, 57, who owes more than $119,280 for one child.

“We got a tip that he was at a hotel, but he had checked out before we arrived,” Mr. Young said.

Still, those who contact authorities cannot avoid the arrest warrants that have been issued.

“We cannot get the warrant dismissed, but we can certainly go to court and stand up for them if they pay,” Mr. Young said.

Virginia has tried before to get tough on deadbeat parents.

It was the first state to put lock boots on the wheels of parents’ vehicles and one of the first to revoke their driver’s licenses.

Mr. Young admitted his reluctance to start the most recent effort, out of concern for humiliating the parents, but said he felt a great responsibility to the children.

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