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Big 8 County Meetings - Minnesota

2007 Best Practices

Published: December 1, 2007

Goal: To improve county and State outcomes in child support enforcement by measuring both process and result indicators that are published in the annual county performance reviews and the statewide performance report.

Description: Beginning in July 2003, the eight counties in Minnesota with the highest caseload met every other month at the State office to discuss performance-related issues. The meetings are facilitated by a member of the Federal Reports and Compliance Unit. Each county usually sends at least two people to the meetings, often supervisors or managers. This group has two primary goals:

  • to improve on the five Federal performance measures
  • to assist with defining performance goals for the counties.

The Big 8 meeting agendas, notes, and other products are available to all county child support programs in the State through a secure website, where all are able to benefit from the work accomplished by the Big 8. The State office creates reports specifically designed for the Big 8 meetings. Other relevant information including performance measure forecasts and comparisons are also distributed to all counties. This group focuses on the following six themes developed from discussions about barriers specific to the public assistance caseload:

  1. Assumptions and locate issues that create artificially high orders
  2. Non-cooperation on paternity and establishment cases
  3. Service to low-income NCPs
  4. Contempt studies
  5. Cultural and language barriers
  6. Interstate process is slow

Tasks to improve performance on each theme were developed and assigned to State and county representatives at the meetings. These tasks include reviewing policy; enhancing State connections to other entities; reviewing enforcement remedies; gathering best practices; and examining and sharing processes. A communication plan was developed to provide Minnesota counties background information about the Big 8. An email was sent to all county offices to introduce the Big 8, explain the purpose of the group, and to provide instructions on how to access materials created by the Big 8. The materials are available to all counties on a secure website. Each county in the Big 8 creates their annual Federal performance goals, activities they will undertake to achieve those goals and any documentation that will track the progress.

Results: There has been anecdotal evidence from counties that the meetings are working to accomplish the objectives.

Location: Five of the eight counties are from the Twin Cities metropolitan area; the others are from other areas of the State. The meetings are held at the State child support enforcement office in St. Paul.

Funding: Regular IV-D funds in combination with State and county funds are used to fund staff time.

Replication Advice:

  • Allow time over the course of several meetings for the group to develop an identity and common purposes, especially when the formation of the group is a State initiative.
  • Obtain management support at the State and county level and encourage their participation in working with the group.
  • While we are working with the counties with the largest caseload size in this project, given their disproportionate impact on our statewide performance measures, we recognize that all counties, regardless of size, impact our performance and data reliability.
  • Share the products of the meetings (templates, reports, etc.) with all counties, not only those in the group, so that everyone can benefit.
  • Encourage the group members to bring documents and reports to discuss, but also be able to provide the group with new information and reports to be addressed at the meetings.


Kristen Brolsma Regional Performance Consultant Child Support Enforcement Phone: 651-431-4573 Email: Kristen.brolsma@state.mn.us


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