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Locate Requirements After the Expanded Federal Parent Locator Service

PIQ 01-02

Published: February 28, 2001
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Federal Systems, Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS), State Systems, Automation Initiatives
Types:
Policy, Policy Interpretation Questions (PIQ)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children & Families
Office of Child Support Enforcement

OCSE PIQ 01-02

DATE: February 28, 2001

TO: State IV-D Directors
Regional Program Managers

FROM: Frank Fuentes
Acting Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement

SUBJECT: Locate Requirements after Implementation of the Expanded Federal Parent Locator Service

State IV-D agencies have inquired about Federal requirements for the locate function now that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) has expanded the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS). Requirements for child support locate in general are contained in regulations at 45 CFR 303.3, which predate PRWORA. Requirements specific to Statewide child support enforcement systems are spelled out in the publication Automated Systems for Child Support Enforcement: A Guide for States, which is updated on a regular basis to reflect OCSE's most recent requirements for automated systems. It has become apparent that clarifications are needed regarding how these regulatory and systems requirements fit together.

Following are some questions and answers that we hope will be helpful in clarifying proper procedures in this area.

Question 1: Will submitting a new case to the Federal Case Registry (FCR), since it is part of the Expanded Federal Parent Locator Service, satisfy the locate requirement to submit appropriate cases to the FPLS as stated at 45 CFR 303.3(b)(3)?

Answer 1: Yes. Under §303.3(b)(3), if location is necessary to take further action in a IV-D case, a IV-D agency must access all appropriate location sources, including transmitting appropriate cases to the FPLS, within 75 days of determining that location is needed.

The related system certification requirement at Objective B-2 (a)(1) requires the system to be able to automatically submit a case needing locate to all appropriate locate sources, including the transfer of appropriate cases to the FPLS, within 75 days of determining that locate action is required.

The availability of the FCR and the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) and their proactive matching capability has created a new dynamic in child support location. When a case is entered on the FCR, automatic matching occurs within 24 hours that often leads to identification of key locate information. Once that information is received, there may be no need to take further locate action.

It is our position that, now that the automatic match between the FCR and the NDNH is in effect which serves to locate individuals in child support cases, it is no longer appropriate to submit a separate locate request to the FPLS in every case needing locate. See also response to Question 2.

Question 2: Must every case for which no proactive match information is returned be submitted for full FPLS searches on all external sources?

Answer 2: If no match information is returned, or if the State has reason to believe that certain external FPLS sources may be of value in locating the individual or his/her assets, we strongly urge the State to request a search of external FPLS sources on a case by case basis. The FPLS continues to expand its external locate sources and capabilities and offers some unique information that may help States locate parents.

Question 3: Does the requirement to repeat locate attempts quarterly only include the State’s employment security agency and other automated sources other than FPLS as indicated in the Certification Guide, Locate Objective B-3? If the Certification Guide is correct, will the regulations be amended?

Answer 3: Once a case has been submitted to the FPLS (FCR), §303.3(b)(5) requires repeat location attempts in cases in which previous attempts have failed, but adequate identifying and other information exists to meet requirements for submittal for location. These attempts must be either quarterly or upon receipt of new information, whichever is sooner. We believe that under this provision quarterly attempts may be limited to automated sources including the SESA files, but need not include the FPLS.

The certification guide Objective B-3 (b) says that, at least quarterly, the system must automatically resubmit all cases in locate to the SESA and to all other automated locate sources, with the exception of FPLS.

Our position is that neither the regulation nor the certification guide requires States to make quarterly submittals to the FPLS and, with the advent of the FCR and the ongoing proactive match, quarterly submissions are not appropriate.

Question 4: If a State determines that a particular automated locate source is unproductive, can that source be eliminated even if it is one of the mandatory sources? What type of documentation would be required to support elimination of an unproductive source?

Answer 4: Under regulations at §303.3, a State must access appropriate location sources. For repeat location attempts done quarterly, this must include SESA files, but not the FPLS. For repeat attempts due to new information becoming available, we recommend this include FPLS external sources, if the new information suggests that data may be available from one of these sources. Similarly, other Federal, State or local sources must be used only if appropriate. If a State determines that a particular automated or other source, other than the FPLS or the SESA, is unproductive as a source for locate in its IV-D cases, the State may discontinue use of the source. No specific documentation is required, but in the case of an audit or other inquiry about a State's practices, it may be of value to have a record on file indicating why a particular locate source was dropped.

Because of the expanded FPLS, the proactive match and the many other advances the program has made in recent years regarding data availability and use, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement has set up a work group to look at the program's current locate and safeguarding requirements and needs. This work group includes State and Federal members who are reviewing current policies and requirements on locate and safeguarding of information and recommending changes to improve the program. This work will eventually lead to a proposed rule on these subjects.

I hope that this information is helpful. As always, thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of America’s children.