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Local IV-A and IV-D Offices Working Together to Serve Families on TANF

DCL-03-28

Published: July 11, 2003
Information About:
Other Public Partners, TANF (IV-A), State/Local Child Support Agencies
Types:
Policy, Dear Colleague Letters (DCL)

DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER

DCL-03-28

ATTACHMENT: Collaboration Strategies

DATE: July 11, 2003

TO: State IV-A & IV-D Directors

RE: Are your local IV-A and IV-D offices working together to serve families on TANF?

Dear Colleague:

Dedicated Child Support and TANF workers across the nation have contributed to the success of welfare reform by helping clients toward paid employment and supplementing their earnings with child support. The combination of job earnings and child support is key to helping low-income families become and remain self-sufficient. Nearly half the families leaving TANF depend on child support payments for about one-third of their budgets. It is critical that all local IV-A and IV-D offices work together on TANF cases.

We therefore ask you, state directors, to examine together whether the links between your Child Support and TANF programs are adequate to assure:

• Full, accurate and prompt child support payments as families exit TANF;

• Improved transfers of information between IV-A and IV-D workers achieved through mutual redesign of automated systems;

• Timely and accurate referrals from IV-A to IV-D so that court orders for child support can be promptly obtained;

• IV-D agencies expediting cases at the request of TANF workers when consistent payment of child support might close a TANF case or prevent a return to TANF dependency;

• Accurate and timely transmittal of TANF data to facilitate achievement of state IV-D performance measures;

• TANF clients better educated on services they can expect from the Child Support Office, and on the importance of updating their addresses to assure timely payment of child support.

Regular interaction between your local IV-A and IV-D offices is key to providing both optimum customer service and meeting state performance measures. Inaccurate TANF information may prevent a state from meeting required IV-D performance measures, and thereby, reduce the amount of its TANF grant. If an audit determines that a state has submitted incomplete or inaccurate data, and the state fails to correct the data and meet the related performance standards in the following year, the state will not be awarded IV-D incentive payments and will be subject to a penalty of one to five percent of its TANF grant.

We urge you to jointly monitor and assess the quality of ongoing collaborations between IV-A and IV-D throughout your state. As needed, please assist your local offices to implement processes that expedite collaborative services of TANF cases on a regular basis. It is also important that you provide your local Child Support and TANF workers with joint training in collaborative operations.

To help you undertake this initiative, we have contracted for the development and field testing of a training curriculum on collaborative approaches to client services. This will be designed as a joint course for Child Support, TANF, and Workforce Development staffs at state and local levels. We expect the curriculum to be available to the states by this fall.

Attached are “Collaboration Strategies” providing examples of ways in which states have been collaborating between IV-A and IV-D programs. Our offices shared these strategies with you earlier this year, and they may assist your efforts in the period ahead.

In summary, we urge the IV-A and IV-D directors in each state to work together on Child Support/TANF issues and develop joint strategies to improve them. In doing so, we assure you of our unified commitment to assist your efforts. Our Regional Offices invite your calls for assistance. We encourage you to share with us your promising approaches to collaboration, which we will circulate for replication. Finally, we thank you for your renewed commitment to improve the lives of children and families through effective IV-A / IV-D collaboration.

Sincerely,

________________________

Sherri Z. Heller, Ed.D.

Commissioner

Office of Child Support Enforcement

____________________________

Andrew Bush

Director

Office of Family Assistance

Enclosure

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