Child Support Collaborations to Engage and Assist Veterans - Veterans Toolkit
We developed this toolkit for child support agencies working with veterans, especially homeless and at-risk veterans, to help them address outstanding child support issues.
The toolkit has several components:
- Practical “how-to” information for participating in events such as legal clinics and Stand Down events
- PowerPoint presentations and sample forms and templates
- Lessons learned and promising practices
- Information on establishing effective collaborations to serve at-risk veterans
Expand each topic below for a summary and access to that section of the toolkit. Or download the entire toolkit (109 page PDF).
The child support community can play an important role in helping this country end homelessness among veterans. In fact, homeless veterans and their service providers say that legal assistance with child support issues is one of their top unmet needs.
OCSE has developed this toolkit for working with veterans, especially homeless and at-risk veterans, to help them address outstanding child support issues. The target audience is the child support program. However, the toolkit also includes suggestions for legal providers who want to target services to veterans with child support issues, and for VA partners or partners who are veteran service providers.
Download and read section 1 (1 page PDF).
A December 2010 data match conducted by HHS and the VA revealed that veterans comprise a small but significant proportion (just over 5%) of the noncustodial parent child support caseload. This means that there are more than half a million veterans among the 10.7 million noncustodial parents in the match. This proportion did not vary much by state. About half of the states had more than 10,000 veterans in their child support caseload.
Download and read section 2 (4 page PDF).
Program Design and Partners
Jurisdictions that have developed child support initiatives focused on military and/or veteran families recognize military and veteran families often face challenges quite different from the typical civilian family. As a result, they have tried to reduce barriers and increase outreach to improve parent engagement and increase consistent support payments. If your jurisdiction is contemplating an initiative focused on veterans, it is important to clarify the goals of your program to decide who the best partners are, how best to conduct outreach, what barriers exist, and how to address such barriers.
Communication Among Partners
Communication among project partners is a priority in an effective collaboration.
Download and read sections 3 and 4 (8 page PDF).
In all of the HHS-VA-ABA pilot sites, the child support agency played a critical role since the goal of the collaboration was to help remove barriers that homeless veterans encounter to housing and employment by addressing their child support issues.
This section includes the following chapters:
- Staffing the Veteran Initiative
- Getting Started
- Establishing Credibility
- Conducting Outreach
- Providing Services
- Modifying Procedures Where Appropriate
- Participating in Legal Clinics
- Participating in Stand Down Events
Download and read sections 5 through 13 (50 page PDF).
Although many child support issues do not require legal representation, a legal partner is important to a project site. The legal partner can not only provide representation in contested or complex matters but also help develop trust between the veteran and the child support professional.
Download and read section 14 (12 page PDF).
This section identifies federal VA programs that child support agencies may partner with to provide services to veterans, especially homeless or at-risk veterans.
Download and read section 15 (13 page PDF).
Data and outcome measures provide information about who is being served, which can inform outreach. Because numbers represent people, they show the impact of services on a personal level. As partners assess how effective services have been for veterans, they can make adjustments as needed. Outcome measures ensure partners are informed of collaboration results; otherwise each partner only has access to data related to its own role. Outcome measures can also assist the collaboration in receiving funding for continued or expanded services.
Download and read section 16 (6 page PDF).
Laws and judicial programs can assist or create barriers to a veteran child support initiative. The following recommendations are based on promising practices in some jurisdictions.
- Identify laws that create barriers to homeless and at-risk veterans, such as interest on child support debt
- Focus on legislation that gives the child support agency authority to stay enforcement or compromise arrears owed to the state
- Review your state support guidelines to see how they address veterans benefits, including apportionments for children
- Explore with the court and local Bar Association the interest in and feasibility of establishing a Veterans Problem-Solving Court
Download and read section 17 (8 page PDF).
Working with veterans — especially homeless and at-risk veterans — is often a challenging undertaking for child support agencies. Child support workers need to become familiar with military culture. They must learn how to navigate various VA programs and collaborate with new partners. At the same time, it is incredibly rewarding. Child support agencies experience firsthand the positive impact child support services can make.
Download and read sections 18 and 19 (5 page PDF).
See the list of training tools and resources referenced by section, including presentations, educational videos, and sample forms.