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SIP Grants Awarded in FY 2009

Published: October 1, 2009
Information About:
Special Improvement Project (SIP) Grants
Types:
Grants, Promising Practices
Tags:
Competitive Grant

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Probate and Family Court

“Case Conferencing Sessions”

This 36-month grant responds to 2009 priority area “Improving Child Support Enforcement (CSE) and Court Collaboration.” Massachusetts Probate and Family Court will develop strategies for IV-D cases to foster collaboration impacting CSE and court outcomes.

To expand case conferencing sessions throughout the commonwealth to assist parents in reaching an agreement regarding child support and/or medical support. The Probate and Family Court and the Department of Revenue (DOR) will work collaboratively. Funds will be used for two case conference coordinators - one for eastern Massachusetts and the other for western Massachusetts. This expansion will test the validity of case conferencing statewide. Pilot case conferencing programs were established in Middlesex and Franklin - in Franklin a total of 46 cases had conferences and 80% of the cases were resolved; however, in Middlesex 220 cases were scheduled and agreements were reached in 83, roughly 38%. A total of 107 cases did not go forward because only one party appeared, or no one appeared; however, in some of these cases the IV-D case could be closed because DOR could do an administrative action or IV-D services were no longer desired.

While pilots have achieved success, in order for case conferencing to be most effective, dedicated staff are needed to coordinate sessions to determine the need and timing of the case conferencing sessions, screen cases in advance to identify those cases most appropriate, contact litigants, and distribute/collect evaluative surveys.

Goals:

To improve child support outcomes by conducting less adversarial proceedings and assess customer satisfaction with the process. Project will document number of child support orders that were entered as a result of the case conferencing sessions and these will be tracked fro compliance and compared against the compliance rates for those child support orders entered without the benefit of a case conferencing session.

Evaluation will also identify strategies which were effective in overcoming problems with the process and what changes in policies, staffing and procedures were needed to achieve goals.

Grant Number:90FI0106
For Information, contact: ACFOCSEGrantsinfo@acf.hhs.gov
Project Period:09/01/2009 - 08/31/2012


North Carolina

NASIRE State Information Technology Consortium (SITC), Herndon, VA

Problem-Solving Court Education and Expansion

This three-year grant responds to 2008 Priority Area Two: Initiating Child Support and Court Collaboration to Improve Operating Efficiencies of Both Entities and Client Outcomes. This project will: expand data analysis for the substance abuse treatment component of North Carolina 10th Judicial District’s (Wake County District Court) child support problem-solving court; disseminate innovative methods to educate judicial child support communities nationwide and encourage expanded use of problem-solving court techniques; obtain statistical analysis services, including cost-benefit analysis, to assess the impact of the substance abuse treatment program on the collection rate of child support payments; and build upon the previous study of court sanctions in Wake Country and add a cost comparison.

In addition the project will: deploy innovative, sustainable methods to educate judicial child support communities nationwide and encourage expanded use of problem-solving techniques; research and develop a "How To" manual for initiating child support problem-solving court practices; create a workshop for approximately 10 new or experienced judges from across the nation who are responsible for hearing child support cases; develop a webcast series to support judges’ learning and communicating problem-solving court techniques and benefits to a wider audience; and initiate a "Think Tank" website to showcase collaborative problem-solving techniques, innovative child support practices, training materials, success stories and other key judicial child support resources. Trained judges will be invited to join the Think Tank’s Board of Advisors.

Grant Number: 90FI0099 - Reissued as 90FI0102
For Information, Contact: ACFOCSEGrantsinfo@acf.hhs.gov
Original Project Period:7/1/2008 - 06/30/2011 (Terminated 8/5/2011)
New Project Period:3/1/2009-8/29/2010 (Extended to 6/30/2012)


Oregon

Oregon Department of Justice, Division of Child Support

“O-IVR and Customer Response Model Process”

This 17-month grant responds to 2009 priority area ”Using New Methods to Improve Collection Rates.” Oregon Department of Justice, Division of Child Support (DCS) will develop new methods to help State/local jurisdictions and Tribes improve child support collection rates.

Purpose: Funding will be used for an Outbound Interactive Voice Response (O-IVR) system and to develop a model process to use with the system to increase the effective use of technology, initially targeted to the State’s English and Spanish-speaking DCS customers whose cases are in specific enforcement processes: a) noncustodial parents nearing the first current support payment due under a newly finalized order and b) customers scheduled for a hearing. The system will be designed to begin contact with customers as soon as they receive a support order. It will eventually be used for all types of customer contact opportunities such as appointment reminders, genetic testing, etc.

The new process will integrate O-IVR technology with staff-to-customer follow-up contact. Since O-IVR will use pre-recorded messages and track responses, it should use fewer staff hours and provide an efficient way of contacting customers. DCS proposes to use an O-IVR system to call customers and provide case-specific information, including hearing dates and obligation due dates. DCS will track Spanish-speaking customers separately throughout the project cycle to maximize knowledge gained for this growing segment of customers. DCS will build on Arizona’s system model and will design improved customer service to all customers and culturally diverse populations.

Expected Outcomes:

•Increase in collections by contacted parties—results will be measured by timeliness of payments made under current support orders and attendance at hearings for each language group. Will track the rate of compliance for contacted parties; will measure total impact on collection rates for contacted parties; and measure the cost per dollar of obligation collected.
•Reduce inefficiencies within DCS—DCS will track average amount of staff time spent on cases where the O-IVR system has been used to make contact and cases where the system has not been used. DCS will also track the average amount of staff time spent on cases coded as Spanish language before implementation of the system and on similar cases after implementation of the system.
•Reduce costs per dollar of obligation collected.
•Improve customer service to DCS customers.
Grant Number:90FI0104
For Information, contact: ACFOCSEGrantsinfo@acf.hhs.gov
Project Period:09/01/2009 - 01/31/2011 (Extended to 7/31/2011)


South Carolina

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families

“Jobs Not Jail”

This 36-month grant responds to 2009 priority area “Improving Child Support Enforcement (CSE) and Court Collaboration.” The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families will develop strategies for IV-D cases to foster collaboration impacting CSE and court outcomes.

Purpose: To allow Family Court judges to court-order men into jobs rather than jail. It will create and expand partnerships with job training and employment services so participants can secure a job that allows the payment Purpose: To allow Family Court judges to court-order men into jobs rather than jail. It will create and expand partnerships with job training and employment services so participants can secure a job that allows the payment of child support in Georgetown County. Partners include: South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families; the Father to Father Project in Georgetown; Child Support Enforcement; Family Court in Georgetown County and workforce-related organizations (e.g., workforce centers and Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments). The fatherhood program has struggled in Georgetown because of the growing numbers of fathers who need guidance and rising unemployment rates in the county. This project will permit close partnering among the fatherhood program, the courts, CSE and workforce development agencies to establish this alternative program instead of incarceration.

Eligibility criteria for the project include: being low-income, unemployed, having no current criminal charges pending and no history/evidence of a violent crime. Many of these NCPs have low education and low literacy rates which are barriers to participation in workforce center training. Workforce Center has agreed for this project to allow participants to get a GED and simultaneously other needed training (usually they have to have prerequisites before they can get specialized workforce training). Participants in this project will be provided with an individual training account (ITA), a 60-day program for basic welder certification training, and a fast track GED program. Participants will also attend a weekly peer support class which will include components on understanding and management of child support and substantial information on job readiness, job retention skills and work habits, as well as fiscal management methods. Participants will have the benefit of working with a fatherhood program which will also help them with other problems such as housing and provide mentoring support. There has been an assessment on the need for welders in Georgetown County and several local employers have agreed to hire fatherhood participants who complete the welder certification training (pay $17-18 per hour and provide health benefits). At the end of the 60-day training, participants will be placed in full-time employment within two weeks. CSE payments will continue to be tracked (employer withholding) by the program. At the end of six months the participant will graduate from the Jobs Not Jail program and his pending contempt charge will be purged. Those who do not comply either with program requirements or training will be required to serve their original jail sentence. Those who participate will have their child support payments held in abeyance for a period not to exceed 90 days. Then a review hearing will be held in 90 days to review the progress on the NCP in the Jobs Not Jail program. At the 90-day hearing, the child support obligation will be reset using current income information for both parents.

Expected Outcomes:

Secure employment for participants so they can pay child support - First year, 50 NCPs will be ordered to the program, 40 parents will receive job skills and a minimum of 25 will be certified as welders and secure jobs. Evaluation will document changes in amount of child support paid by these participants, and document changes/improvements in the relationships between CSE, Family Court and comprehensive community services, including fatherhood programs and workforce development agencies.

Grant Number:90FI0105
For Information, contact: ACFOCSEGrantsinfo@acf.hhs.gov
Project Period:09/01/2009 - 08/31/2012


Wisconsin

Milwaukee County Child Support Enforcement

“Ensuring Timely Child Support Services for Foster Care Cases”

This 36- month grant responds to 2009 priority area “Improving Child Support Enforcement (CSE) and Court Collaboration.” Milwaukee County Child Support Enforcement will develop strategies for IV-D cases to foster collaboration impacting CSE and court outcomes.

Purpose: To unify child welfare and child support court proceedings and to expand the use of videoconferencing technology in conducting court proceedings in Milwaukee County’s Children’s Court. The project targets improving outcomes for foster care- related child support cases by avoiding inappropriate support orders for parents by reducing the use of imputed income. It also targets improving service delivery for parents whose children are in the foster care system by reducing the need for parents to attend a separate court hearing specifically for child support matters. The project will streamline operations for both the Children’s Court and DCSE and reduce the demands on the dockets for the Children’s Court and Family Court, which currently hear the child support matters of foster care cases

Currently foster care hearings at the County’s Children’s Court are focused on addressing child welfare concerns. Child Support matters tend to be secondary particularly at the initial hearing. Under this project the Unification of Family Court and Children’s Court Committee subgroup will develop a process whereby child support matters will be routinely addressed early in the child welfare proceedings. DCSE has taken a step in this direction by working with the Children’s Court to set aside one day every other week for appearing by telephone for foster care cases in which the court has determined that a child support matter needs to be addressed. However, the ability to participate by telephone is severely limited. For example, identifying who among the lawyers/judge/participants is speaking is extremely difficult. Also, under the current process there are still many foster care cases for which DCSE does not get noticed when the case is heard by the Children’s Court and then the case has to be heard separately by the Family Court. DCSE intends to address the need to improve remote communication by using videoconferencing equipment rather than telephone equipment and develop improved procedures for unifying the child welfare and child support hearings to establish a process in which child support matters can be addressed earlier and in more foster care cases.

Project staff will facilitate planning, develop the procedural manuals and training curriculum specific to the reengineered process, deliver the training, monitor implementation of the videoconferencing equipment and reengineered business process and evaluate the project results. The project will be evaluated by comparing outcomes from the current method of establishing support orders for foster care cases to the outcomes of the new method. It will also evaluate the process aspects of the project to help other courts and child support programs who might consider implementing this approach.

Objectives:

•Increase number of foster care cases that have appropriate orders established (reduce number of orders using imputed income by 20%).
•Increase the collection rate on foster care cases.
•Increase the efficient utilization of County resources for DCSE, the Children’s Court, and Family Court and streamline/coordinate child support processes in child welfare proceedings.
Grant Number:90FI0103
For Information, contact: ACFOCSEGrantsinfo@acf.hhs.gov
Project Period:09/01/2009 - 08/31/2012