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Lingering effects of child support payment delays

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A glitch that delayed child support payments in Missouri has been resolved, but the lingering effects are still catching up with some families.

Kahtea Murrell picked up her youngest son from daycare at Operation Breakthrough on Thursday, and grabbed a snack.

"They have the food pantry, if it wasn't for their food pantry, we wouldn't eat sometimes," Murrell said.

It's a struggle for her to support four kids, even working full-time, and she counts on her child support payments. But this month they came more than two weeks late.

"I have no choice but to blame the state," Murrell said.

That's because the Missouri Department of Social Services changed the pre-paid cards it uses to send out child support payments, and they say a glitch held up mailing the cards on time to parents in certain areas of Kansas City, St. Joseph, Sikeston and Rolla.

"It doesn't even make sense," Murrell said. "Even a normal person would say, 'give the people their cards before you make the payments.'"

The delay made her miss a payment of her own, to KCP&L. So the power company cut the electricity on Monday, leaving the family in the dark, with no hot water, since they use an electric water heater, and no home phone or internet because the modem's not running.

"I can't even see to get my clothes and stuff ready, or I can't even take a shower," said her teenage daughter Jordae Ferguson.

Murrell finally got her child support card this week, but she said, "When they cut you off, you have to pay the entire past-due balance, which is about $600 more than what my regular payment would have been."

She says she's fallen behind slowly with her family's day-to-day needs, but this time it's not her fault, yet she's still stuck in the dark.

"The way our social systems are set up, you're not given a way to build any kind of safety net for yourself. So if one thing, it could be a flat tire causes things to domino for me," Murrell said.

A spokesperson for KCP&L told KCTV5 Thursday night that they would work with Murrell to get her service turned back on. They may use a new cold weather payment plan that starts Nov. 1 and won't require her to pay all of her back payments at one time.

DSS said parents can call its customer service line at 1-855-403-8342 or go to the website for more information.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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