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New database to cut down on errors associated with child support

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Last year, deputies with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office served nearly 1,500 arrest orders to people delinquent on child-support payments.

But sometimes, those arrest orders were outdated because the person had already caught up on payments or multiple arrest warrants had been issued. Court officials, social workers and deputies had no way to track the paperwork.

“They were getting picked up,” said Susan Frye, the Forsyth County clerk of court. “They would think they were already caught up. … It was a lot of unnecessary work.”

Frye said she hopes that a new database will help the clerk’s office, the Forsyth County Department of Social Services and the sheriff’s office keep up with the paperwork and cut down on mistakes. She said there’s no cost associated with the new database.

Frye said that a caseworker with the Forsyth County DSS typically issues an order for arrest or an order for show/cause for those who have failed to pay child support. That paperwork is sent to the sheriff’s office for service and to the clerk’s office to file, Frye said.

Maj. Beth Pritchard of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said that because there was no easy way to track the paperwork, deputies would often serve an arrest warrant on someone who had already paid child support.

“The order (for arrest) gets recalled and we don’t get the recall,” Pritchard said.

Frye said the new database will include names, case file numbers and other information that indicates whether the paperwork had been served or had been recalled.

In 2013, the sheriff’s office received 1,437 orders for arrest related to child support, Pritchard said. The sheriff’s office served another 2,080 orders for show/cause and 65 subpoenas, all related to child support, she said.

Frye said her office, the sheriff’s department and DSS have worked on the new database for the past six months.

Under the new system, paperwork will be issued electronically, Frye said.

Pritchard said deputies will begin training on the new system next week.

“We anticipate it resulting in us not serving duplicate orders for arrests on the same defendants while still providing quality service to the plaintiffs in these cases,” she said.