AUTHOR: SCOTT LEKAN
The new year is here and with it comes new goals and aspirations for many. You probably remember from previous articles that I don’t make formal resolutions. Instead, I reflect on where I’ve been and how I can continue to make good decisions moving forward. This year’s reflection is even more profound as I’m looking back on my tenure at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). It’s remarkable how quickly three and a half years go by. We’ve accomplished a lot as a child support community since I first arrived to lead the Office of Child Support Enforcement. We’ve endured new challenges across the nation as well.
I’ve been honored to serve the country from multiple roles here at ACF. I’m currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, where I have broad oversight for accomplishing many of the agency’s goals. This includes moving agenda items forward, from economic mobility and pandemic response to primary prevention and more. I’m also the Acting Commissioner of OCSE. In both roles, I’ve witnessed the unwavering resolve of federal, state, tribal, and local leaders to help the nation’s most vulnerable through human services.
The child support program served 14.3 million children in FY 2019 with collections totaling $32.4 billion. It continues to be one of the most cost-effective programs across government with $5.06 collected for every $1.00 spent. This would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of child support agencies at all levels. I’m thankful for your collaboration in helping the program grow and thrive.
The past year was truly like no other. None of us could have predicted what we faced in 2020. Our OCSE goals at the start of the year were to continue modernizing state systems; utilizing data analytics; increasing program awareness; and strengthening our federal, state, and tribal partnerships. Remarkably, we’ve accomplished each of those goals despite the challenges from COVID-19. You have consistently showed resilience during the pandemic, quickly adapting to change while providing services to families. You’ve fully embraced virtual services and innovations to keep families safe and well.
Let’s continue to look ahead with enthusiasm to 2021. Continue to lean on data, research, and promising practices you’re developing within your offices. We may face formidable challenges that require us to be innovative, flexible, and resolute again this year. However, I know the program is in good hands.
My chapter at ACF ends January 20. It’s been my pleasure working with all of you. Until we meet again, I’ll say farewell for now, my friends, and wish you much success in 2021 and beyond.