The federal government will penalize Alabama $4.4 million over the next two years, because the state's system of collecting and paying child support does not meet federal guidelines.
The federal government will deduct the money from what it pays the state to administer the system, according to James Long, an attorney for the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
Long, in an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, said the penalty could reach $9.6 million if the Alabama system does not meet federal requirements that it be fully automated by Sept. 30.
DHR collects child support payments for welfare clients and for those who are not on welfare. As of July, DHR had about $272,000 child support cases involving about $500,000 children.
DHR Commissioner Bill Fuller issued a statement saying the agency is working to improve its system.
Maryanne Prince, a Montgomery attorney who represents parents in a lawsuit against DHR, said families don't get all the money they are owed because of problems with the system.