OCSE and ADD Promote Collaboration Between the Developmental Disabilities and CSE Programs
TO ALL STATE IV-D DIRECTORS
Re: OCSE and ADD Promote Collaboration Between the Developmental Disabilities and Child Support Enforcement Programs at State and Local Levels
Child support can make a significant difference for many children with developmental disabilities. The Office of Child Support Enforcement and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities are promoting collaboration between the Developmental Disabilities and Child Support Enforcement programs at State and local levels. The aim of this collaboration is to promote child support services for eligible families of children with developmental disabilities.
Child support services offer eligible families of children with developmental disabilities resources which can make a significant difference in their lives. These services include establishing a child's legal paternity, where needed, and establishing and enforcing support orders under which a non-custodial parent must contribute to the financial support of his or her children. The Child Support Enforcement Program exists to assist families with non-custodial parents to access these services.
These services can be significant for families not only in the amount of child support payments, but because these regularly scheduled payments will continue until a child reaches the age of majority. Other assistance programs such as Food Stamps, subsidized child care and Medicaid phase out as a family's income level rises, but not child support services. Child support continues through the child's growing years, and may even increase periodically to keep pace with the child's needs and the non-custodial parent's income levels. Some State laws even provide for child support payments to continue beyond the age of majority in certain circumstances, e.g., to complete education or due to physical or mental incapacity for self-support. Moreover, support orders will typically include a provision for the child's coverage under employment-related health insurance available to the non-custodial parent, and this can be especially significant as a family's access to Medicaid phases out.
Beyond providing critical financial resources, the establishment of legal paternity and child support orders frequently lead fathers to want a personal relationship with their children. The growth enrichment this father-child relationship can offer a developing child is priceless. Every child needs and deserves financial and emotional support from both parents.
By virtue of this joint letter we invite and urge our State and local Child Support Enforcement agencies and Developmental Disabilities agencies to collaborate with each other to promote child support services for eligible families of children with developmental disabilities. Among steps each State could take to develop this collaboration, we suggest:
- get-acquainted meetings of State directors and key staffs of both programs to explore the issues and plan implementing activities, including a process for ongoing program information exchanges and for promoting collaboration between local Developmental Disabilities and Child Support Enforcement staffs throughout the State;
- State communiqués to the networks of local child support and developmental disabilities agencies announcing the collaboration initiative and asking them to meet together in their localities to get acquainted, explore local issues and plan implementing activities appropriate to their local situations;
- cross training of the State and local staffs in each program on the objectives, procedures, and issues facing the other program, so that the staffs are knowledgeable and sensitive in their interactions with each other; and
- mutually agreed procedures for making referrals of potentially eligible families of children with developmental disabilities to the appropriate Child Support Enforcement agency for services.
As we jointly urge you to promote collaboration between the Developmental Disabilities and Child Support Enforcement programs at State and local levels, we assure you of our ongoing commitment to assist your efforts. We are enclosing fact sheets and lists of State contacts for each program. Our Regional Offices invite your calls for assistance, and are interested in learning about success stories you may wish to share with us as best practices.
In closing, we thank you on behalf of the many children with developmental disabilities, whose lives may be enhanced substantially by your collaborations.
David Gray Ross Commissioner Office of Child Support Enforcement
Sue Swenson Commissioner Administration on Developmental Disabilities