I hope you will also read two Child Support Report articles, one in September and one in October; both discuss the importance of reducing the risk of domestic violence as we establish and enforce child support obligations. We can do this by improving the confidentiality and safety of our procedures, training our staff, increasing client education, and providing enforcement options to parents worried that they or their children may be in harm’s way. The research is clear that most domestic violence survivors want to pursue the child support that their children need and deserve if they can do so safely and confidentially.
In September’s issue, “Domestic Violence: Safely Pursuing Child Support” highlights some of the situations domestic violence survivors face and the “green, yellow and red light” strategies that child support programs can adopt to help reduce the risk of harm. Over the past decade, OCSE, several state and local child support agencies, courts and advocacy groups have worked together to identify best practices in the area of child support and domestic violence. It is my hope and expectation that state and local child support offices will renew and deepen their collaborations with domestic violence coalition partners to implement additional safeguards and protocols to reduce the risk of domestic violence.
To support and complement efforts of state and local child support programs to address the needs of domestic violence survivors, OCSE is partnering with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program (under ACF’s Family and Youth Services Bureau), and the OCSE Judicial Task Force to develop online resources for the child support community. These resources could include training material, research, brochures for parents, a caseworker referral guide, a “bench card” for the judiciary—and a blog topic devoted to domestic violence and child support.
Please send us an article about your agency’s best practices so that we can showcase them in future editions of the Child Support Report.
The second article about child support and domestic violence, in October’s issue on page 3, explains the Family Violence Indicator (FVI), an important marker that flags individuals at risk of family violence in our automated systems. The article explains how the indicator helps child support workers to pursue child support while protecting the location of the parent or child who is a family violence survivor.
Both articles point out the role of child support in helping parents at risk of domestic violence secure needed financial resources, while making sure they and their children remain safe.