State Child Support Agencies with Programs to Ensure that Child Support Orders Reflect Current Earnings
Program Innovation Maps
- Information About:
- State/Local Child Support Agencies
- Case Management, Order Establishment, Review and Modification
- Program Information/Contacts, Promising Practices
- Program Innovation Maps, Toolkit & Training
- State Has Program
As of September 2011, at least 22 states and the District of Columbia are operating at least 35 programs designed to ensure that child support orders reflect current earnings at establishment and are modified when earnings change.
ELMO uses income information from sources linked electronically to the Child Support Services Division’s automated child support system to review child support orders automatically.
The Child Support Services Division and the Alaska Court System maintain the Pro Se Support Order Modification process by disseminating pro se forms and answering basic questions.
Starting in February 2009, the Division of Child Support Enforcement and the Office of the Attorney General are holding modification workshops in Maricopa County on the first Thursday of each month to address economic hardships among NCPs.
Early Intervention Initiative
On July 1, 2009, using $18 million in legislatively earmarked “revenue stabilization” funds, California launched a statewide Early Intervention Initiative. Each local child support agency developed a plan to employ early intervention practices modeled after California best practices, practices highlighted on the PAID workplace, or one of their own, including setting appropriate orders and modifying orders.
Orange County Pre-Default Intervention Program
The Pre-Default Intervention (PDI) program gets both parents involved in establishing the child support order by working with them to reach an agreement (stipulate) in the IV-D or local child support agency office. All stipulated agreements go to court for signature only without court hearing.
Enhanced Parental Involvement Collaboration
The SIP grant in San Francisco County was designed to reduce the number of cases in which income was imputed, reduce the number of defaults, and streamline order establishment by providing enhanced customer service. The results were so positive that San Francisco County adopted EPIC “treatment” as standard practice throughout their caseload. Although the grant ended, practices continue.
Avoiding and Managing Child Support Arrears in Colorado
Under this 1115 grant, the Colorado Division of Child Support Enforcement (CDCSE) and local child support units in Denver and Larimer Counties will automatically modify orders for incarcerated obligors through the Avoiding and Managing Child Support Arrears Program. CDCSE will develop and implement a streamlined review and adjustment procedure for incarcerated obligors sentenced to two years or more that will result in rapid establishment of minimum orders of $50 per month, unless the parties object. The grant also looks at working with the disabled population and what can be done to help modify their orders. The grant for this program has ended but the practices continue.
Operation Access for Active Duty Military
This 1115 collaboration between the El Paso County Child Support Enforcement Unit and active duty military installations and military personnel proposes to improve service and to educate military personnel on matters of child support through the Operation Access for Active Duty Military Program. This grant includes a streamlined method of handling change of custody and review and adjustment for active duty military.
Reducing Default Orders in Child Support Cases
The Reducing Default Orders in Child Support Cases project tested several strategies by which child support agencies might promote the participation of noncustodial parents in proceedings to establish child support orders and reduce the use of default orders. Conducted in two Colorado counties (Denver and Jefferson), the project involved the use of a variety of automated and worker-initiated techniques to promote contact, stimulate parental involvement, and increase payment. The techniques used included personal telephone calls, financial incentives to those who appeared at order-making proceedings, face-to-face meetings, and automated reminder calls. The grant for this program has ended but the practices continue.
District Of Columbia
Modifying Orders for D.C. Prisoners
This 1115 grant improved the process of modifying orders for D.C. prisoners. The District of Columbia has two laws designed to ensure that orders are modified for D.C. prisoners. The first requires that offenders be informed of their right to file for an order modification at their sentencing hearing. The second requires the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) to review child support orders of incarcerated parents upon notification of imprisonment. During the two-year grant, CSSD successfully modified 306 cases, avoiding nearly $1.6 million in arrears. It is estimated that the average child support order that was modified was $169 per month and that the average length of time that an order was suspended was 33 months. The average amount of arrears avoided per case was $5,156. The grant for this program has ended but the practices continue.
Child Support and Assets for Independence Collaboration
Nassau and Duval Counties have developed the Child Support and Assets for Independence Collaboration whereby delinquent child support enforcement (CSE) cases with associated parents at or below 200% of the poverty level will be referred to Assets for Independence (AFI) services as well as offered enforcement delay incentives for the fathers of these cases who attend fatherhood initiative educational sessions and access AFI services. Assigned case managers will review existing orders, secure a modified order when necessary, expedite the review and adjustment process, help parents navigate the CSE process, and serve as an informational resource.
Default Reduction Project
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare contracts with private attorneys to do legal work in child support matters around the Default Reduction Project. Realizing that having the correct order amount is essential to improving collections, the department renegotiated their attorney services contract to focus efforts on establishing orders through stipulations instead of obtaining default orders. Idaho DHW also developed a statewide legal support unit to more closely monitor the attorney performance in all areas of the contract.
Child support caseworkers/representatives assist incarcerated noncustodial parents with modification paperwork in prison.
This SIP grant intends to improve child support enforcement among current and formerly incarcerated individuals who have accumulated large arrearages during incarceration by developing a timely approach to modifying child support orders for inmates in the Indiana prisons. The Work-Responsibility-Reward: 1) developed a statewide system to identify persons who are currently or about to be incarcerated in state prison facilities; 2) provided information to incarcerated NCPs on their right to request modification of current child support orders; 3) standardized a review and adjustment procedure for incarcerated NCPs returning to Marion County (Indianapolis); and 4) provided technical assistance to jurisdictions outside of Marion County desiring to standardize their review and adjustment procedure for incarcerated NCPs. (inactive program)
Linking CS with the Iowa Prisoner Reentry Initiative
This 1115 grant provides pre-release services, successful transition planning, and aftercare services for offenders released from state institutions to the Second Judicial District. The Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) plans to enhance reentry efforts underway by integrating child support case management services and parenting education classes into the Iowa Prisoner Reentry Initiative rural service delivery case management model. Noncustodial offenders owing child support will receive additional case management services, including modification assistance.
Automated Review and Adjustment
Iowa passed legislation in 2010 to allow the child support recovery unit (CSRU) to move forward on review and adjustment processes more quickly by shortening the waiting periods in regular modification reviews from 30 days to 15 days. The This still allows parents adequate time to gather necessary information to submit to the CSRU and for parents to study the revised child support calculation from the CSRU.
Making Connections, Improving Collections
The Making Connections, Improving Collections project, funded by an 1115 grant, aimed to reduce the number of default paternity and support orders and obtain orders commensurate with the obligor’s ability to pay by developing early intervention points.
The Maine CSE agency is working to increase the accuracy of support orders and decrease the rate of noncustodial parent defaults in order establishment and modification actions through automated review. Maine is involved in a major restructuring of its IV-D automated system, and the review and modification piece of that systems update is complete. Maine’s system automatically reviews cases continually for modification using prescribed criteria for selection of cases. The Maine CSE agency has automated interfaces with a number of information sources. The system pulls income information from electronic and manually loaded sources. Once that information is loaded at the case level, Maine has automated child support worksheets that use Maine’s guidelines to calculate child support awards. Though the process relies heavily on automation, child support workers review the systems calculation.
Survive and Thrive
This 1115 Economic Downturn grant in Prince George’s County is assisting noncustodial parents who receive Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB) to become reemployed and thereby able to resume full payment of child support. After the receipt of UIB for a period of 3 months or more, the individuals will obtain a review, and if appropriate, a modification of their child support order. The Maryland Department of Human Resources/Child Support Enforcement Administration, and the Prince George’s County Office of Child Support Enforcement will partner with the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation One-Stop Career Center, the Prince George’s County Government/Office of Community Relations/Community Mediation, and the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. (inactive program).
Outreach and Assistance to Homeless Populations
An Outreach Liaison from Baltimore/Baltimore County child support visits and/or communicates with several homeless shelter programs, and the Liasison may recommend a review and adjustment.
Developing and Testing a Streamlined Modification Process for Newly Unemployed Obligors
In this 1115 grant, the Child Support Enforcement Division will collaborate with the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court to develop and implement enhanced outreach efforts and a streamlined modification process for newly unemployed NCPs in the IV-D child support caseload. Developing and Testing a Streamlined Modification Process for Newly Unemployed Obligors includes providing information about how to request a modification for NCPs who have recently become unemployed and will set up an interagency task force to develop a streamlined modification process that is expected to include simplified notice procedures, earlier hearing dates, and case conferencing to facilitate agreement between the parties and limit the need for court hearings.
Case Conferencing Sessions
Under this SIP grant, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court will develop strategies for IV-D cases to foster collaboration impacting CSE and court outcomes. The grant expands Case Conferencing Sessions throughout the commonwealth to assist parents in reaching an agreement regarding child support and/or medical support and expects to improve child support outcomes by conducting less adversarial proceedings.
Family-Centered Services for Unwed Parents in the IV-D Caseload
This 1115 grant to implement Family-Centered Services for Unwed Parents in the IV-D Caseload is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement Division and the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court to provide case management services to unwed parents who are establishing initial support obligations in the Title IV-D caseload of Hampden County.
The Massachusetts CSE program uses this 1115 grant to implement Automated Review. The CSE program resides in the state’s revenue agency. This, and provisions in the Massachusetts statutes that allow CSE access to state tax information, have facilitated its access to the state tax and quarterly wage databases through an automatic interface. While this interface is used primarily for enforcement purposes, access to the information also helps child support caseworkers locate income sources for establishment or review and modification of support orders. Caseworkers can obtain information to determine if they should proceed with a review and adjustment of an existing order.
Referral for Employment, Asset Development, Cooperation and Hope
This 1115 grant provides financial assessment, management, planning, and employment counseling. The local county child support agency will modify support orders to assist parents’ financial management efforts.
Simplifying and Streamlining Orders
Under this 1115 grant, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) will improve the efficiency of the process for the review and modification of child support orders so that adjustments are made expediently, with minimal burden, at a reduced cost, while ensuring due process. The project will target simplification and streamlining in a two-pronged approach: (1) change policies, forms and procedures in order to expedite the review and modification process and apply technical supports to the pro se process; and (2) improve the process for all parties and target high-impact, low-cost improvements for parents in less complicated circumstances (e.g., prison, public assistance and disability). The project will build upon the state’s Arrears Management Project and be accomplished through a continued partnership between CSED, parents, county child support enforcement agencies, Minnesota Fathers and Family Network, courts and other agencies. The grant for this program has ended but the practices continue.
Mind the Gap
This 1115 grant addresses the barriers offenders must overcome to become employed and consistent payors of child support, and the lack of collaborative practices to bridge that gap. This project will build a multidisciplinary collaboration to actively engage offenders and improve outcomes for families, child support agencies, and the department of corrections. Specialized case management services include a multidisciplinary approach, identifying and using best practices to help offenders reintegrate into communities and support their families, and information sharing. By minding the gap, the effectiveness of the child support program is enhanced and families benefit through improved paternity establishment rates, setting of realistic child support orders, improved voluntary compliance, and less accumulation of arrears.
Self Help Center
Hennepin County has a Self Help Center, staffed by court employees who assist people not represented by an attorney with their family law issues. The Self Help Center is a quick alternative for obligors to get their order modified. Rather than requesting the child support program to perform a review and adjustment, most self-represented litigants can complete and file a motion to modify a child support order in a day or two. The Self Help Center provides workshops for clients interested in filing a child support modification three mornings a week. The workshop consists of a presentation, followed by individual meetings to answer case-specific questions. Court staff have found that clients who are assisted by the Self Help Center are more likely to accurately complete their motion, successfully serve the other party, and avoid court dismissals and continuances.
Review and Modification
A pilot project was initiated with the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (Springfield) for that office to screen the judicial cases referred for enforcement for the appropriateness of a review and adjustment. Greene County will initiate the review and modification process judicially at the request of either parent so that the requesting party will not have to participate in a separate administrative process in addition to the judicial process already initiated there in Greene County. The intent of the pilot is to avoid a delay of the review and modification process and to better serve the parties resulting in an increased likelihood of payment.
Intervening for Success
In this 1115 grant, the Clark County District Attorney Family Support Division will promote prompt and continuous communication with noncustodial parents through early intervention techniques that could increase order establishment by stipulation (i.e., consent orders).
Review and Adjust
New Mexico’s Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) has developed several strategies to meet the increased demand for order review and adjustment. CSED developed a brochure for customers on how to expedite the process for modifying an order entitled “Steps to Review and Adjust a Child Support Order.” Filing a pro se action or hiring a private attorney are also suggested as alternative processes for modifying support orders. The brochures were distributed to CSED offices and district courts throughout New Mexico. The CSED Director participated in local news interviews promoting CSED services that may assist families during these difficult economic times and issued a press release to encourage New Mexico citizens to contact CSED immediately if they incurred a substantial change in income due to the economic downturn. CSED representatives appeared at local job fairs and conducted a child support modification workshop. (inactive program).
Modified DSS Order (MDO)
The New York City Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), in collaboration with the Family Court, developed a program called Modified DSS Order, referred to as MDO. This program allows noncustodial parents who have a TANF case and have experienced a drop in income below the self-support reserve ($14,620 in 2009) to request a modification of their child support order at the OCSE’s Customer Service Walk-In Center. If they qualify, noncustodial parents enter into a stipulation to modify their order. Caseworkers complete the paperwork and the Department of Social Services attorneys and OCSE’s fiscal staff review and approve the stipulations. Approved stipulations then go to the court for a Support Magistrate’s concurring signature.
Earlier Review of Modification and Pilot Project for Laid-Off Parents
Deviating from the standard 36-month review and adjustment cycle, North Dakota has identified certain changes in circumstances, such as military status or employment or access to health insurance, which will warrant an earlier review. North Dakota has created pilot projects which call for the earlier review of modification for laid-off parents through a third-party contractor for obligors who are adversely affected by the economic downturn. Parents who pay child support and have been recently laid off through no fault of their own may get some temporary relief through a pilot project now underway in North Dakota. The project will offer parents temporary relief from their court-ordered obligations along with job placement help.
Asset Building for Financial Responsibility Program
In this 1115 grant, the Ohio Office of Child Support (OCS) and its primary partner, the Ohio Community Development Corporation, joined by the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood, the Ohio Practitioners’ Network for Fathers and Families and the State Treasurer’s Office, will connect mostly urban low-income noncustodial fathers to financial education and asset building programs offered by Asset for Independence (AFI) grantees. The partners will also cross-train child support workers, fatherhood and family-serving practitioners, financial literacy providers and AFI staff on the child support system and the AFI program. The Cuyahoga and Hamilton County Child Support Enforcement Agencies will work with low-income obligors to increase their knowledge about child support order modifications.
Improving the Financial Well-Being of Children in Cuyahoga County
Under this 1115 grant, the Ohio Office of Child Support, Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency will address noncustodial parents who are in default on their child support orders. The new program proactively intervenes in these cases prior to the use of enforcement tools and refers these obligors to employment readiness and placement programs in the community. The project objectives include intervening with anyone in default, negotiating on the phone or in person with obligors in default, and completing negotiation prior to suspension of driver’s or professional licenses. The grant for this program has ended but the practices continue.
Outreach Program to Recently Unemployed Noncustodial Parents in Stark County to Obtain Appropriate Size Orders and Job Search Assistance
Under this 1115 grant, the Ohio Office of Child Support will create two case manager positions dedicated to contacting recently unemployed noncustodial parents to notify them of their right to a review and adjustment of their order, to guide them through the process of requesting a review and adjustment, assessing if the case qualifies for modification, and then to actually conduct the review and adjustment. (inactive program).
Temporary Employment-Related Modifications
Oregon recently passed laws and implemented rules that allow for a temporary adjustment to a child support order. The Department of Child Support formed a Recession Response Team of caseworkers specifically trained to help parents through the new “Employment-Related Modification” process. Temporary order modifications change the basic support obligation for up to 6 months if one or both parents in the order have suffered loss of income due to the recession. If a parent becomes re-employed within that 6-month period, the previous order may be reinstated. If a parent remains unemployed or underemployed after the 6 months, the temporary modification order may be renewed for an additional 6 months, with notice to the other parent.
Non Financial Obligation (NFOB)
In certain circumstances, Pennsylvania may establish a Non Financial Obligation (NFOB). The NFOB is established when the noncustodial parent (NCP) is temporarily unable to meet a monthly support obligation. There may be a variety of reasons (incarceration, unemployment, temporary disability, etc.). However, the NCP may have other requirements imposed by the Court (e.g. participate in regular job search activities while unemployed). (inactive program).
RESTORE: Restoring Opportunities in a Rough Economy
Under this 1115 grant, the Rhode Island Office of Child Support Services provides a rapid response to targeted populations, including noncustodial parents who are veterans returning from deployment without job prospects and the noncustodial parent whose child has been placed with the Department of Children, Youth and Families (social welfare agency) due to a job loss and home foreclosure. The project seeks to prevent the accumulation of arrears and will utilize early intervention strategies, such as systematic case management and connecting families to vital resources, including through the Rhode Island Fatherhood Collaboration. Anticipated services to be provided include health, education, job opportunities, parenting skills, housing, visitation rights, and modifications of child support orders. (inactive program).
Help Establishing Responsive Orders to Ensure Support for Children in Military Families
In this 1115 grant, the Texas Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division, will identify and design solutions to the financial and emotional support issues that are unique to military families. The project will include statewide efforts to conduct outreach and case identification of military and veteran parents in two pilot sites with large populations of military service members.
Preventing Arrears by Improving Front-End Process
Through an 1115 grant in 2002, Texas OAG fundamentally altered the process of establishing orders by using more administrative processes and automatic systems to establish orders. The grant ended but the practices continue.
As a result of the faltering economy, the Texas child support program is hearing from parents who pay child support and from those who receive it. For example, noncustodial parents are requesting that their orders be modified to match their reduced incomes. Texas is using its Web site to make it as easy as possible for noncustodial parents to request a review and adjustment of their order. The questionnaire that parents complete is available on the child support section of the main attorney general web site, along with FAQs about modifying orders. Parents who think they qualify can download the form and send it to the office handling their case. Staff in local offices, due to hiring additional temporary staff, can quickly review modification requests, request additional documentation when needed, and notify parents of the results. Parents whose cases qualify will be scheduled for in-office negotiation conferences or court.
Intensive Case Monitoring Program
In Virginia’s Intensive Case Monitoring Program, the case manager ensures that NCP’s are advised of the option to request a modification, if warranted. Although the request must be made in writing, the NCP can make that request at the time of the interview and the process will go forward. (inactive program).
Outreach and Service Enhancements
This project is designed to help unrepresented parents enter accurate support orders when they are either establishing or modifying a support order in court without the assistance of the IV-D child support agency or a private attorney. There are two prongs of particular interest:
1) Providing better information to people through a “Quick Help Guide” (http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/esa/dcs/DCSQuickHelpGuide2.pdf ) and 2) Providing an avenue for these people to obtain accurate wage information via DCS as part of their court action.
West Virginia caseworkers monitor their clients’ cases to ensure orders are appropriate. This includes orders for persons currently or previously incarcerated. West Virginia also has a specific procedure for modification of orders. (inactive program).