IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — Local counties are doing more to crack down on deadbeat parents who do nothing to help while their exes struggle to feed and clothe their children.
Tina Alexander shared her story with Eyewitness News.
Alexander and her 16-year-old son, Jacob, love to cook together.
He dreams of becoming a chef but Alexander worries about how she'll afford college as a single parent.
According to Social Services, Jacob's father owes child support.
"He owes us right at $20,000 or 21,000 right now in back child support," said Alexander.
Alexander said they often desperately need the monthly money they rarely receive.
"When you're a single parent, every penny helps. I mean, we scrounge sometimes," she said.
Alexander's case is one of thousands, Iredell County DSS workers are tracking.
"We cant give up, we have to keep trying," said Child Support supervisor, Donna Rufty.
Rufty told Channel 9 many deadbeat parents run from court orders to pay up.
"We have cases we track and track and chase and chase," she said.
The deputies who work full time to find them allowed Eyewitness News to follow them for two days.
Deputies frequently hit dead ends.
But at a Statesville motel, they found Deanna Simpson, who they said owed $1,620 in child support.
Deputies gave Simpson a show cause order which stated she must appear in court.
When Eyewitness News questioned her about the unpaid child support, Simpson said, "I don't have a job. I'm pregnant and it's hard enough for me to pay my bills here."
If parents can't afford what they owe, DSS helps families reach agreements but can also recoup child support from people who refuse to pay through liens on bank accounts, revoking or denying passports or going after their paychecks.
"We have the right under statutes to garnish their wages without their permission," said Rufty.
Statewide last year DSS collected more than $700 million.
In March 2015, Iredell County DSS recovered a monthly record of $1.3 million in child support but caseworkers need the public's help in locating parents who owe.
"Turn them in help us as much as we're trying to help the judge and help our children," Alexander pleaded.
Alexander works several jobs to support Jacob but wishes his father made that sacrifice too.
"It is a struggle every day, It really is but I do what I can," said Alexander. "I do my very best and that's all I can do."
If you suspect someone is avoiding paying child support you can give an anonymous tip to state officials through their hotline.
Some local sheriff's offices have created Facebook pages to try to find parents who owe.
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