The Guam attorney general's office has recently tracked down 80 parents and sent them child support checks totaling nearly $60,000 that have gone unclaimed, in some cases for years.
It's the start of an effort to clear the backlog of $5 million in unclaimed child support payments that number in the thousands and fill boxes in the Child Support Enforcement Division office.
Attorney General Leevin Camacho has made it a priority and he's assigned Deputy Attorney General for Child Support Andrew Perez to lead the effort.
The focus of the initiative is locating parents and reissuing the checks they're owed.
Over the past month, Perez said, his team has been cross-referencing the names on the old returned checks with the child support case records.
In that way, they managed to locate the parents, get their new addresses and reissue 120 checks owed to them. One reissued check dated back to an amount owed in 2008.
Perez said many were unaware they were still owed child support.
"They didn't come to us and update their information, they lose track," he said. In some cases their child has grown up, beyond the age of required support. "Their case has 'aged out'; they didn't think they're owed anything more," he said.
"This is why it is so important that parents keep their contact and mailing information current with our office."
"Our mission is to help families get the financial support necessary to raise their children," said Camacho.
"This includes doing everything we can to find the rightful owners of the millions of dollars in undistributed payments that have been sitting in an account, in many cases for over a decade," he said.
"In some cases, they were very quick to cash the checks," said Jema Santos, accounting services supervisor. "So I would think they've been very pleasantly surprised by receiving those checks after so many years."
Camacho said, "It's $5 million that families have needed at some point. It's the right thing to do."
In the attorney general's latest budget request, Camacho has asked for specific funding to allow for the hiring of additional staff dedicated solely to identifying and dispensing the undistributed funds.
"It's going to be a huge task," he said, "but it's time to take it on."