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Publication on How to use Electronic Information to Establish and Modify Child Support Orders

DCL-07-32

Published: October 5, 2007
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Case Management, Order Establishment, State Systems, Automation Initiatives
Types:
Policy, Dear Colleague Letters (DCL)

DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER

DCL-07-32

ATTACHMENT: Using Automated Income Data to Establish and Modify Child Support Orders (1.10MB, Microsoft Word)

DATE: October 05, 2007

TO: STATE AND TRIBAL IV-D DIRECTORS

RE: New publication which details how to increase the automated use of electronic information to establish and modify child support orders

Dear Colleague:

I am pleased to provide you with a copy of a new report entitled Using Automated Income Data to Establish and Modify Child Support Orders.

The Child Support Enforcement program establishes child support orders for Title IV-D cases based upon explicit State guidelines. The Deficit Reduction Act stipulates periodic review and modification of orders for TANF cases. Orders are set based upon available income and other factors. However, in many cases potential obligors or obligees either do not appear for court hearings or provide only partial or questionable documentation of earnings upon which to base child support orders.

The same holds true for cases, especially TANF cases, scheduled to be modified. In other situations, agencies may wish to verify income information provided that may be dated or suspect.

It is important to base orders on current and valid incomes especially in cases where the noncustodial parent cannot be located, does not appear at the hearing, or does not provide full evidence of current earnings. Alternatively, it is important in these cases that order levels not be based too low to deprive needy children of support. It is critical that orders be reviewed and modified in a timely and accurate fashion.

This report reviews findings of a demonstration to use existing automation to establish and modify child support orders for several jurisdictions in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Tennessee and West Virginia. Automated data used in this demonstration comes from the State and National Directory of New Hires and State Workforce Agency.

Automated data was used to find income in almost 30 percent of the cases (other cases did not need automated data), most of which (73 percent) was found in the new hire reports. Seventy-two percent of parents where information was provided via automation made payments within the first six months. Verification time was shortened from 55 days to 36 days. On the other hand, the average length of time to establish an order and comparable average order amounts did not appreciably change from cases where automation was not used.

The report lays out recommended steps States and local child support offices should consider in developing a plan to make better use of automated information services in their establishment and modification processes.

It is my hope that this report will encourage and enable you to automate or partially automate the establishment and modification of orders in your state. For additional copies of this report, please contact the OCSE National Reference Center at OCSENationalReferenceCenter@acf.hhs.gov.

Sincerely

Margot Bean
Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement

cc: OCSE Regional Program Managers