A new year offers the chance to look back at accomplishments, look ahead at ways to enhance the child support program and our services to families, and then set new priorities.
Last year, OCSE accomplished several of our priorities. We hosted our first state systems symposium with 40 states and territories. We held a series of trainings about domestic violence and another series on federal reporting. We awarded intergovernmental case processing grants to seven states and two tribes to test how child support programs can increase payments and improve intergovernmental case processing. We also supported child support agencies interested in implementing or enhancing their noncustodial parent employment program. We issued policy guidance on the availability of funding for noncustodial parent work activities and released Knowledge Works! to provide training, planning tools, and other resources. Read more about this initiative on page 2 of the January 2020 Child Support Report.
For 2020, we have four main priorities. We’ll focus on providing technical assistance to states that are modernizing their systems, making data-informed decisions, promoting the child support program in a positive way, and strengthening our state and tribal partnerships.
State system modernization
We know that many state automated systems are outdated. For states looking to modernize their systems, we’ll offer a series of webinars to exchange information and support states as they navigate the process. We also plan to host another state system symposium in 2021.
Data should inform our decisions. We want to provide data analysis and reports that state child support directors can turn into actionable information to improve program performance. We’ve been working with the National Council of Child Support Directors (NCCSD) as well as a pilot group of state and regional OCSE representatives to determine the best reporting mechanism, the data that should be included, and which reports are priority.
We’ll continue the efforts with the NCCSD/NCSEA/OCSE Public Relations Committee to develop and promote a more positive image of the child support program so that families have a holistic awareness and understanding of our services.
Federal, state, and tribal partnerships
We plan to roll out more training series, including training specifically requested by tribal child support programs. Financial management training is also on our radar. We’ll release a new funding opportunity this spring to leverage the child support program’s expertise in developing interventions to educate teens and young adults about the financial, legal, and emotional responsibilities of parenthood. I encourage state and tribal programs to apply. Watch our Grants webpage.
I want to emphasize that the federal office is here to help. By strengthening our partnerships, providing technical assistance and training, and promoting a positive message, we can enhance the program and our services. I look forward to us working closely together to help children and families. Best wishes for a successful 2020!
Linda Boyer, Deputy Commissioner
This blog gives the commissioner a forum to communicate directly with child support professionals and other stakeholders about relevant topics. The Commissioner’s Voice is reprinted from the January 2020 Child Support Report newsletter (PDF).