Deadbeat parents may soon find themselves walking off their debt, according to a new amendment to Illinois’ child support law.

Parents who are more than 90 days delinquent on child support payments could have their driver’s licenses suspended and cars impounded, according to the changes, signed into law Oct. 23.

The amendment imposes more severe punishment on parents who owe back support. Previously, the Illinois Child Support Enforcement office could seize state and federal tax refunds, deny or suspend passports, and request child support delinquency be reported on the non-custodial parent’s credit report.

The state will now give non-custodial parents 60 days to respond to delinquency notices. If parents don’t respond in time, the state will enforce the new penalty.

According to 2005 statistics from the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement, there were almost 602,000 child support orders in Illinois. In 2006, the state collected $1.1 billion in payments.

National statistics, however, show only 3.2 million custodial parents received full child support payments out of 7.8 million awarded support.

In Illinois, child support payments can range from 20 percent of a non-custodial parent’s net income for one child to 50 percent of net income for six or more children.

Grape juice prevents
breast cancer: report

A cup of grape juice per day may keep the doctor and breast cancer away, according to a recently released French study.

The French study, conducted by Dr. Valerie Schini-Kerth and a team of researchers at Universite Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, found that concord grape juice benefits lasted six hours longer than red wine and its components also benefit the heart.

The French study follows one done this summer by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Led by Dr. Keith Singletary of the U of I, he and his team found that concord grapes’ anti-oxidants are linked to retarding cell mutation relating to breast cancer and may be better for the heart than red wine.

The team found that the natural compounds in concord grapes, called anthocyanins, increase the activity of enzymes. The enzymes metabolize and detoxify carcinogens and suppress potentially cancer-causing stresses.

Health experts, however, noted that while a gallon of grape juice per day may or may not keep breast cancer away, it could put you in the fast lane to diabetes because of the sugar content found in grape juice.

Researchers and health experts emphasize eating at least four of the five fruit and vegetable color groups in your diet, which helps reduce the risk of disease and provides fundamental protection for inhibitors.

Former Sears Power House converted to school

The Henry Ford Academy network had $11.5 million added to its fuel tank this month.

The money will be used to accelerate the construction of five Henry Ford Model academies in Midwest urban communities, including Chicago.

The plans were announced Oct. 3, a press conference in North Lawndale at the Great Hall of Homan Square Power House, the site of the future Henry Ford Academy: Power House High School.

Among those in attendance included Mayor Richard M. Daley, Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and Steve Seleznow, a representative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which put up $3 million of the grant. The Ford company contributed the remaining $8.5 million.

Power House High is part of Chicago Public Schools’ Renaissance 2010 initiative, which aims to develop or transform 100 schools in the city by 2010. The school, a college preparatory academy, will inhabit the rehabilitated original world headquarters of Sears, Roebuck and Co., and is scheduled to open its doors in 2008. It will be the first charter school in the expanded Ford academy network, eventually serving 460 students.

-Compiled by Terry Dean and the Medill News Service