Every year around this time, Texas children get ready to head back to the classroom.

Their young minds are filled with the anticipation and excitement of meeting their new classmates and teachers. And, their youthful faces are filled with enthusiasm.

The start of a new school year is a special occasion for children, making it important for parents to be there to share the joy and provide support. There is no more significant time than the beginning of the school year to remind parents of the importance of making regular child support payments.

It is common knowledge that children depend on their parents for basic needs like food, shelter, health care and back-to-school clothing. But, research shows that it's about more than just money for the necessities. The children of parents who pay their child support have fewer behavior problems, make better grades and stay in school longer than children who do not receive regular support.

Parents who pay child support are much more likely to take an active role in their kids' lives. Children with two involved and caring parents are more self-confident, more likely to exercise self-control, and less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug usage and early pregnancies.

Thankfully, most parents pay their court-ordered child support every month without reminders. For parents who need extra encouragement, it is our hope that the new school year brings renewed commitment to do the right thing: pay their child support. All children deserve the security that comes with parents who care enough to make regular child support payments.

Parents who need child support services can contact the Child Support Division of the Attorney General's Office for assistance. The Child Support Division will help:

- Establish paternity;

- Locate a noncustodial parent;

- Establish and enforce child support and medical support orders;

- Review and adjust child support payments; and

- Collect and distribute child support payments.

To help parents collect child support, the Attorney General's Office accepts applications from mothers, fathers and other individuals who request services. Customers can apply for services by calling the 24-hour voice response system at (800) 252-8014 or by visiting Child Support Interactive on the main Attorney General Web site at: www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. Parents who receive financial assistance through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission automatically receive child support services.

For the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2007, the Child Support Division collected more than $2 billion in child support. The Office of the Attorney General is committed to Texas children. We will work with parents to collect the support kids need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Greg Abbott is the Attorney General for the state of Texas. Readers may contact him via email at greg.abbott@oag.state.tx.us.