Mississippi could begin to privatize its child support enforcement if a bill passed last week by the state's House of Representatives becomes law. If that happens, Mississippi would be the first state to fully privatize the function.|

Mississippi’s Department of Human Services, which currently handles collections, reports an estimated $1.1 billion in child support is owed by non-custodial parents in the state.

The state Senate previously had passed a similar measure, and the two legislative bodies are expected to iron out the differences in their bills later in the year. Gov. Phil Bryant has indicated that he supports the legislation.

The private system likely would work on a contingency basis, with agencies taking a percentage of the money collected.

If Mississippi does fully privatize support enforcement, it would move into uncharted territory. According to a report by the state Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, no states have totally privatized all child support enforcement components.

However, 44 states have privatized at least some aspect of their child support collections. Mississippi is among them, already contracting out call centers and new hire reporting. Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming all have at least one private full-service child support office.

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