10 Sep 2008

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today urged absent parents to pay up, but warned Government had to make sure the maintenance needs of children were met.

Speaking on the day the Department of Social Development’s Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division launched a campaign targeting absentee parents Ms Lewsley said Government must play its part fully.

“The previous arrangements were a complete and utter disaster for children,” said the Commissioner. “Thousands of children that were meant to be receiving maintenance payments saw either very little or nothing at all.

“While a large part of the blame lies with the former Child Support Agency, much of it also lies with absent parents who deliberately choose not to pay up.”

Ms Lewsley said the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division of the Department of Social Development would now be accountable to the Northern Ireland Executive and ultimately voters.

“The Minister’s decision to manage this division directly will hopefully mean better, closer management in getting the money to children.”

The Commissioner, in welcoming today’s campaign launch had a message for absentee parents who failed to pay maintenance.

“This isn’t about failed relationships,” she said. “This is about your children. Don’t rob them. Don’t deny them. Pay up!”