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The ANA Messenger - Spring Edition

Published: June 6, 2013
Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS), Environmental Regulatory Enhancement

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Partnering for Success

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Tribes and states collaborate on tax intercept process

By Jim Fleming, Director
Child Support Division, North Dakota Department of Human Services

Child support workers from five jurisdictions braved winter temperatures and met in Bismarck, North Dakota, to share information about effective tribal and state child support program partnering for the federal income tax refund intercept process. Not long after the meeting, a single offset in a Three Affiliated Tribes’ case, submitted for offset by the North Dakota Child Support program, resulted in a collection of over $6,200.

The Three Affiliated Tribes and the State of North Dakota have a long history of working together for effective child support. As early as 1986, an agreement was in place for tribal child support work.  Unfortunately, the agreement was discontinued for many years until the Three Affiliated Tribes started its own IV-D child support program. Since that time, the Three Affiliated Tribes and the North Dakota Department of Human Services have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with several addenda for specific services, including federal income tax refund offset and access to the state’s automated system.

In addition, the tribe and the state have offered joint presentations at national conferences on working together to provide effective services for tribal children. As a result of improved collaboration on federal offset and other services with the tribes and tribal courts in North Dakota, the number of North Dakota child support cases that cannot proceed for lack of jurisdiction has dropped in half in just the last five years, from 10 percent of the total caseload to less than 5 percent.

The meeting was held at the request of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in Wyoming to discuss in person the steps needed for a tribe and state to work together to submit tribal cases for offset. The Northern Arapaho Tribe and the State of Wyoming joined the meeting as well to discuss how each program can help complete the offset process.

The meeting started with a discussion between the five jurisdictions and the North Dakota Governor’s cabinet member for Tribal Affairs about the status of federal legislation to provide direct access for tribes to federal offsets. From there, representatives of the Three Affiliated Tribes and the Child Support Division of the North Dakota Department of Human Services described each step of the offset process, from notice to the obligor to final disbursement to the tribe and payment of the offset fee. Meeting participants came away with clear action steps for implementing a similar, effective process in Wyoming.

Partnerships between tribal and state child support programs are truly an example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Acting alone, each jurisdiction has a limited ability to establish and enforce child support obligations, but together, the jurisdictions can ensure a case does not slip through the cracks and tribal children receive the support they deserve.

For more information on tribal and state collaboration on IV-D services in North Dakota, contact Jim Fleming, Director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Child Support Division, at 701-328-3582 or jfleming@nd.gov.

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Last Reviewed: October 17, 2016