Toledo Blade Newspaper Makes Amends
From Toledo Blade– Editorial
Article published Friday, March 26, 2004
Jensen a survivor
ANYONE who upsets the established order is bound to be controversial. And so it has been with Geraldine Jensen, whose dedication to ensuring that single parents get the child support they’re due has produced something of a sea-change in American society these past 20 years.
Ms. Jensen, however, has relinquished leadership of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, which she founded in 1984 when she was a single mother on welfare in Toledo, struggling to collect $12,000 in unpaid support payments from her out-of-state ex-husband.
Before Ms. Jensen formed to make a public fuss, women had little leverage in enforcement of support orders. Ex-spouses – men comprised most of the culprits – could flee the state and simply refuse to pay.
Ms. Jensen’s scrappy advocacy focused attention on the problem nationwide and made her somewhat of an icon. In 1995, her story was told in a TV movie, Abandoned and Deceived.
She also got results. Congress passed laws allowing paycheck withholding of funds from deadbeat parents and making nonsupport a federal felony in certain cases. With prodding from, Ohio reformed the way, it distributes support money.
Last year, Ms. Jensen won a $250,000 personal award honoring her work from the Heinz Family Foundation of Pittsburgh.
Now she has turned over direction of to a Cleveland woman as the group attempts to recover from an $83,000 theft by an employee. And there are allegations from another quarter that she exaggerated the number of members in the organization.
She certainly had her enemies and detractors, including many deadbeat dads targeted by her zeal who often were already angry participants in nasty child-custody battles.
It’s also true that has lost some of its potency and effectiveness over the years, perhaps a natural consequence of the controversy that tends to dog such an emotional issue.
One wonders if the group will cease to be a major player in the child-support reform movement without its founder, whose perseverance gave a face and a voice to a national problem.
That would be a pity, although it’s obvious that the good Geraldine Jensen has done with on behalf of parents and children will live for a long time to come.
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