Officials concerned Indiana’s child support system is on the verge of collapse

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Officials say a system that manages the state’s child support payments could be on the verge of collapsing.

The Indiana Support Enforcement Tracking System, or ISETS, is used to create child support accounts, receive payments and disburse funds. It was created in the mid-1990s, but per a 2013 DCS report, “the original technology was developed in the late 1980s.” That same report by former DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura detailed that the system was long overdue for a replacement, all the while responsible for processing nearly $1 billion in payments.

Supervising Deputy Prosecutor for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office John Owens says the system frequently experiences glitches or outages. It’s those issues that Owens says put staff on edge that a system-wide collapse could occur.

“I would say that we are terrified that it could happen. And the risk that it’s going to happen goes up every day,” Owens said.

In her resignation letter to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, former DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura wrote “it’s not a matter of if ISETS, the current 30-year-old system, collapses, but when.” She later wrote that its collapse “risks a financial crisis for millions of Hoosier families.”

 Current DCS officials declined to comment on the situation.

Owens says officials had an expectation of getting a new system, but that plan was pulled off the table by Governor Holcomb in 2017. However, even if a new system began installation immediately, Owens says a new system would take 4 to 6 years to install.

“So every day that goes by means that we’re still four to six years from having a replacement system. It means 4 to 6 years of the danger every day that ISETS may malfunction, or go offline,” he said.

FOX59 reached out to the governor’s office about why the plan for a new system was scrapped, but as of Thursday afternoon had yet to receive a response.

Owens says so far, they’ve yet to hear of any new plans for a new system but hopes that the impending results of an audit of DCS reveals the need for it. Meanwhile he says the biggest concern lies with the families who could be at risk.

"It’s one thing for us as prosecutors to have an anxiety about not being able to do our work the way we want to do it. It’s quite another thing for families to have anxiety whether or not the child support check they need so badly week to week is going to be there,” he said.