2015 was a busy year…

40th_banner_image_PNGThis year is the child support program’s 40th anniversary. For four decades, the program has fostered a culture of performance, innovation, and change. When I talk with child support professionals across the country, I hear a strong commitment to service, a deep engagement in the daily work of the program, and a willingness to do what it takes to accomplish our mission: collecting child support for children. We are always trying to do better. I think the phrase I hear most often from child support employees is that “The work is never boring!”

And indeed, it is not, for we are in the business of helping families succeed. Change has been our constant theme. Changes in the family structure, job market, and customer demographics since 1975 have required us to steadily adapt our services to the realities of today’s diverse families. From the beginning, we’ve looked to changing technologies for more effective and efficient processing of our caseloads. But behind the technologies, behind the dollars, behind the performance numbers are real families, families struggling to make ends meet, families trying to keep it together, families who are doing their best to raise their children. Read More: 2015 was a busy year…

categories Child Support tags , , , Comment Leave a comment

Celebrating the growth and success of tribal child support programs in honor of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month

2015_native_american_heritage-2In honor of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month, OCSE celebrates the growth and success of tribal child support programs.

Today, one in ten federally recognized tribes — 59 out of 566 — operate comprehensive child support programs. Another four tribal programs are in the start-up phase. Many tribes have incorporated traditional practices into a holistic tribal family-centered service delivery model. Read More: Celebrating the growth and success of tribal child support programs in honor of Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month

categories Child Support tags , , , , , Comment Leave a comment

Domestic violence survivors in the case load

Black and white head shot of woman, thoughtful,October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We know that domestic violence is an every month concern for child support agencies, but October provides an extra reminder of the critical role safe access to child support services plays for survivors and their families. In the September 2015 Child Support Report, we feature a number of articles addressing the need for domestic violence safeguards and resources for parents receiving child support services.

In talking with child support professionals over the past year about the connection between child support and domestic violence, I’ve consistently heard the following theme: “We know domestic violence is a huge issue for families in our caseload and we want to do more to enhance safe access to child support, but we’re not really sure where to start.” Just like one size doesn’t fit all parents when it comes to delivering child support services, there’s not one approach to developing a comprehensive response to domestic violence. With that in mind, OCSE has developed new resources for child support agencies to use as a roadmap for starting the process of enhancing safe access to child support. These resources draw on the experiences of your peers in other states and jurisdictions. Read More: Domestic violence survivors in the case load

categories Child Support tags , , , Comment 1 Comment

40 years of progress: Technology and innovation

Representation of 40th Anniversary Infographic

40th Anniversary Infographic

This year is the 40th anniversary of the national child support program. Check out our 40th Anniversary infographic on our website to see some of the ways we’ve changed!

Thanks primarily to technology and proactive income withholding, our collections have increased from less than $1 billion to $28 billion, and our cost-effectiveness ratio has increased from $3.25 to $5.25 over the past four decades. Today, 75 percent of collections are made through payroll deductions. By the end of the year, almost all child support programs will use our centralized electronic income withholding (e-IWO) process through OCSE’s child support portal, under new legislation enacted by the Congress last fall. Read More: 40 years of progress: Technology and innovation

categories Child Support tags , , Comment Leave a comment

Improving compliance through respect and procedural fairness

Graphic of man's body pointing to the words Trust and RespectAs I travel and talk with caseworkers around the country, I hear your commitment and passion for our program mission, and see your hard work day in and day out to collect child support for children. The child support program has the reputation for being one of the best run programs in government. What we are all after is compliance with support obligations. When support payments come in regularly, custodial parents can budget for the money so there isn’t a household crisis every month. Read More: Improving compliance through respect and procedural fairness

categories Child Support tags , Comment Leave a comment

Honoring dads on Father’s Day

Father holding his daughter while she sits on a counter

A father and his daughter attend a Family Bonding Activity at the Father’s Support Center in St. Louis, MO.

We’re always looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of our child support program, particularly in three major areas, modernizing technology, increasing procedural fairness, and gathering evidence of programs that work. In honor of Father’s Day, our June Child Support Report focuses on programs and initiatives that help fathers deepen their financial and emotional commitments to their children.

For more than 20 years, OCSE has been involved in efforts to secure consistent support for children through programs to improve parental responsibility and increase child support collections. Ongoing research and evaluation efforts are designed to yield the evidence required for developing and replicating program models.
Read More: Honoring dads on Father’s Day

categories Child Support tags , , , Comment Leave a comment

Thank you for sharing your child support stories

Girl_Writes_Note_Blog_May2015In the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014, Congress asked my office, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, to submit a report to Congress that addresses the effectiveness of state child support programs.   As part of our outreach to parents to inform the report, we asked custodial and noncustodial parents and adult children who grew up in a separated family to tell us their child support stories.  To date, we have heard directly from over a thousand parents and children. We are grateful that they took the time to talk with us.  Their voices have informed and moved us.  Here are excerpted comments from a few of the adult children who shared their experiences with us: Read More: Thank you for sharing your child support stories

categories Child Support tags , , Comment Leave a comment

“My father is in prison”: The importance of child support and justice partnerships

A son and daughter visit their incarcerated dad--part of Sesame Street’s Little Children: Big Challenges Incarceration initiative © 2013 Sesame Workshop.

A son and daughter visit their incarcerated dad–part of Sesame Street’s Little Children: Big Challenges Incarceration initiative © 2013 Sesame Workshop.

Millions of children in this country have grown up with a parent in prison.  One in two state prisoners are parents. The data reflect strong racial disparities.  One in three black men can expect to go to prison during their lifetime. One in four black children born in 1990 had a parent in jail or prison by the time the child was 14 years old — more than double the rate of black children born in 1978, about the time when our program was getting started.

Many experts believe that the loss of a parent due to incarceration is more complicated and painful for a child than other losses.  Repeated incarceration destroys all but the strongest family relationships. Most children love their parents, miss their parents, want their parents to come home, and mourn when they are gone. Helping parents and children overcome stigma and maintain contact during incarceration can help. But a child who has lost a parent to prison may never fully get over it.

Read More: “My father is in prison”: The importance of child support and justice partnerships

categories Child Support tags , , , Comment 1 Comment

My Child Support Story

share_your_storyThe period to submit your stories for the Report to Congress is now closed. Thanks to those who sent in information. If you would still like to leave general comments, you can do so below.

The November-December 2014 Child Support Report gave you an overview of how new legislation, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183), affects the child support program. One particular provision requires us to draft a Report to Congress to recommend cost-effective program improvements, address effectiveness and performance, and outline the future of the child support program.

Please tell me your story. Whether you are a mom or a dad, or whether you grew up living apart from a parent, I want to hear from you. We will draw from these real-life experiences for our Report to Congress.

My story is that I left home early. I was 17 and pregnant when I got married and 27 when I divorced. I finished high school, but dropped out of community college. I had two kids and a desire to give them a better life. Read More: My Child Support Story

categories Make a Comment tags , , , Comment Leave a comment

Everything I learned about customer service, I learned while I was a waitress

vicki_waitress_voiceMany years ago (in fact, only a few years after Congress authorized the IV-D program), I was a mom on my own with two small children to feed. I did not receive child support, and was the sole breadwinner in our family. I was a full-time waitress then, receiving a very small paycheck. To get by, we had to rely on my tips. Every night, my sons and I counted out the dollar bills and rolled the dimes and nickels. I set aside the quarters for the commercial washer and dryer in my apartment building. I used the pennies for bus fare, to the annoyance of those boarding the bus behind me.

So, I worked for tips. I hoped that customers would like my service well enough to give me a good tip. What I quickly learned was that the better my customer service, the better my tips — most of the time. This is what I learned about customer service: Read More: Everything I learned about customer service, I learned while I was a waitress

categories Child Support tags Comment 1 Comment