Child Support CommuniQue - August 2020

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Table of Contents<br />

President’s Message …………………………………………………………..3<br />

Executive Director’s Message………………………………………………….5<br />

Community Corner: Evolutionary Change: Marking a Milestone<br />

in <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement ………………………………………………….6<br />

COVID-19 Response and Transition to Telework…………………………….9<br />

To Offset or Not to Offset……………………………….................................21<br />

Insights from the Private Sector: Pandemic Lessons and<br />

the New Normal…………………………………………………………………26<br />

Insights from the Private Sector: Pulling Together as Partners,<br />

Professionals, and Peers............................................................................29<br />

The Perfect Foil…………………………………………………………………32<br />

Training: Or How We Became Quick Artists…………………………………38<br />

NCSEA INSPIRE………………………………………………………………..40<br />

Work/Life Balance: Emotional and Mental Wellbeing……………………….41<br />

Live from the <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Associations – It’s a Joint Virtual Event!…….43

President’s Message <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

by Tanguler Gray, NCSEA President<br />

It is hard to believe it has been a year since I began my<br />

term as NCSEA president. Over the last 12 months we<br />

have accomplished so much as a team, despite the global<br />

pandemic. I am proud of the way we all rallied together to<br />

serve the child support community while supporting the<br />

well-being of children and families.<br />

Through the ups and downs of the year, it’s been my<br />

personal goal and the mission of our association to<br />

prioritize Engagement with members as we advocate for<br />

families across the country. Earlier this year, NCSEA<br />

approved a resolution seeking to increase program flexibility and funding so IV-D<br />

programs can serve families through technology and the expansion of<br />

employment programs for noncustodial parents. The financial stability of families<br />

and child support programs nationwide was severely affected by the global<br />

pandemic, and this resolution was only one of many steps to address these<br />

problems. I extend a special thank you to members of the Board of Directors and<br />

all committee members for their hard work this year as NCSEA holds to its vision<br />

of Shaping the Future of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>.<br />

As an organization, it has always been important to us to educate those who<br />

work in child support services. We began the year with a highly successful Policy<br />

Forum attended by a record-breaking number of 535 professionals. Our amazing<br />

NCSEA staff and committee members increased online training opportunities and<br />

created not only an extensive library of resources, but a fabulous new website to<br />

ensure that our members had access to high-quality education, even during a<br />

global pandemic. Our new interactive Engagement Lounge quickly became a<br />

popular series and one of my favorite ways to connect with members and other<br />

leaders. All these efforts strengthened the financial standing of the association<br />

and could not have been accomplished without all of you.<br />

I am also proud of the new, beautiful format of the <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> <strong>CommuniQue</strong><br />

(CSQ). The first edition of CSQ did an amazing job of addressing many issues<br />

that not only affect our work but also our well-being as professionals. As child<br />

support professionals, we often spend time educating ourselves about policies<br />

and best practices. However, we should not neglect taking care of ourselves. I

hope the CSQ helped remind you of the importance of creating a healthy worklife<br />

balance and prioritizing self-care.<br />

Our partnerships throughout the year have been a continuous pillar of support. I<br />

am grateful to leaders and members of the National Council of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong><br />

Directors (NCCSD), the Eastern Regional Interstate <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Association<br />

(ERICSA), the Western Intergovernmental <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Engagement Council<br />

(WICSEC), the National Tribal <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement Association (NTCSA)<br />

and the federal Office of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement (OCSE). Their collaboration<br />

and support have made this year one of exceptional Engagement.<br />

Thank you all for the honor of serving as your president. It has been a joyous<br />

experience that has been instrumental in both my personal and professional<br />

growth. I hope that I have provided the same level of support, commitment, and<br />

excitement that you all have provided me. Thank you to all the child support<br />

leaders for making this a year of true perseverance. I look forward to continuing<br />

this work with you all.<br />

Tanguler Gray, is the IV-D Director for the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of<br />

<strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services. During Director Gray’s 23 years in child support she has held<br />

leadership roles in accounting, fiscal operations, customer service, organizational<br />

effectiveness, field and state operations and executive management. She spearheaded the<br />

Rapid Process Improvement (RPI) Initiative; leading the Georgia program to capture the 2007<br />

Governor’s Award for Customer Service and the 2008 National <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement<br />

Association (NCSEA) Commissioner’s Award for High Performance. Prior to serving as<br />

NCSEA President, Tanguler served as secretary and president-elect of the orgranizaion, and<br />

has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2014. She is a graduate of Valdosta State<br />

University.<br />

Print article here

Executive Director’s Message <strong>August</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

by Ann Marie Ruskin<br />

This is a phrase heard numerous times already…but what a<br />

year this has been! I am proud to say that NCSEA has taken<br />

these uncertain times to offer many opportunities and new<br />

initiatives to our members, as well as emphasize the numerous<br />

resources and programs available through member benefits.<br />

NCSEA is proud to launch our new website and we encourage you to go to<br />

www.ncsea.org and take a look. It is a fresh, updated website, and we look<br />

forward to new additions and revisions in the coming weeks. Be sure to log<br />

into your NCSEA member profile and access the NCSEA Member Website,<br />

which is redesigned for better functionality and user experience.<br />

This is also an exciting time of year as we welcome new directors to our<br />

NCSEA Board of Directors. Congratulations to re-elected Board members<br />

Margot Bean (Deloitte Consulting, LLP), Robbie Endris (Conduent), and<br />

Hannah Roots (Hannah Roots Family Law), as well as newly elected Board<br />

members Laura Galindo (CSG Government Solutions), David Kilgore<br />

(California Department of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services), and Lewis Jackson<br />

(Wake County <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services). The <strong>2020</strong>-2021 Board will be led by<br />

NCSEA Officers: President Lisa Skenandore (SMI); President-elect Lori<br />

Bengston (YoungWilliams); Treasurer Jim Fleming (North Dakota <strong>Child</strong><br />

<strong>Support</strong> Services); Secretary Erin Frisch (Michigan <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>); and<br />

Immediate Past-President Tanguler Gray (Georgia Division of <strong>Child</strong><br />

<strong>Support</strong> Services). Incoming officers and board members will take office<br />

September 1, <strong>2020</strong>. We look forward to working with the NCSEA volunteer<br />

leadership in the program year ahead.<br />

I will certainly miss seeing all of you in Anaheim this summer, and I am very<br />

disappointed to miss the many events and activities of the now-canceled<br />

<strong>2020</strong> Leadership Symposium. In lieu of in-person education programs,<br />

NCSEA will be offering several virtual programs, titled “NCSEA Inspire,” on<br />

relevant and timely topics of interest to child support professionals. The<br />

programming will be held in October and registration will open September<br />

3 rd . In addition to the professional development programs, our Corporate<br />

Partners and private sector participants will bring you sessions featuring<br />

their products and services critical to the child support program.<br />

Information on all offerings will be emailed soon.<br />

Print article here

Community Corner<br />

Evolutionary Change: Marking a Milestone<br />

in <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement<br />

by Jim Fleming, North Dakota <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Division<br />

Evolutionary change has a way of sneaking up on you: it happens slowly,<br />

and you may not even notice the change until something prompts you to<br />

have an “aha” moment. For child support and NCSEA, April 21, <strong>2020</strong>, was<br />

one of those moments.<br />

The NCSEA Board of Directors adopted a resolution on April 21, <strong>2020</strong>,<br />

urging Congress to exclude any future COVID-19 related relief payments<br />

from offset for past-due child support until Congress determines that<br />

parents who owe past-due support have enough employment opportunities<br />

to be self-sufficient without a relief payment.<br />

Yup, the National <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> ENFORCEMENT Association went on<br />

record in a specific circumstance against collecting money from a parent<br />

who owes child support arrears.<br />

The resolution explains how a lot of the money that would be offset would<br />

be applied to assigned arrears and not be paid to families, but there was<br />

also a deeper factor at work—the importance of self-sufficiency for parents<br />

who owe child support.<br />

For years, lots of the discussion at training conferences has focused on<br />

ways to establish and modify child support orders for appropriate amounts<br />

based on the parents’ ability to pay and on ways to enforce such orders<br />

that are consistent with notions of procedural justice. The changes to<br />

federal regulations that were adopted in 2016 are unmistakable

confirmation of the fact that right-sizing and procedural justice are concepts<br />

that are now embedded in delivery of child support services.<br />

Why the focus on the needs of the parent who owes support? It’s certainly<br />

not about downplaying the importance of child support for the family or<br />

condoning the arrearage. Consider the number 216 – that’s the number of<br />

months between the birth of a child and when the child reaches 18 years of<br />

age; thus, also the number of monthly payments a child support agency<br />

hopes to receive over the life of a case opened at birth. As the IV-D<br />

program enters the middle of our fifth decade and continues to look for<br />

ways to improve collection rates, we’ve learned that sustainability of<br />

collections is important. My former boss was known for throwing out<br />

colorful one-liners, and one of his favorites was “Don’t Shoot Your Milk<br />

Cow” – meaning an action taken today to meet an immediate need may be<br />

less beneficial over the long run. A one-time collection of a larger amount of<br />

money can impair future collections if it denies a parent the ability to pay<br />

rent or buy food or cover all of the other life expenses inherent in being<br />

self-sufficient.<br />

For Federal Fiscal Year 2019, 66.09% of current support was collected, 1<br />

which leaves lots more to collect, and so we cannot forget to continue to<br />

think of more creative and effective ways to find and take possession of<br />

money or assets owned by a parent who owes child support. However, we<br />

also need to recognize barriers to payment and find ways to motivate<br />

parents who owe child support to cooperate with our program and make<br />

reliable payments moving forward. A powerful way to do this is to connect<br />

parents who owe child support with employment programs specifically<br />

designed for parents in our caseload who may need to be nudged to<br />

participate in the program in order to comply with the support obligation.<br />

This nudge can be missing in voluntary services offered under other<br />

programs to unemployed individuals.<br />

Some will disagree with NCSEA’s resolution and that’s okay. There are<br />

some really good reasons that COVID-19 payments should be offset<br />

considering many parents owed arrears prior to the pandemic and many<br />

families needed child support more than ever during the pandemic. For<br />

many it probably makes a difference that the first round of COVID-19<br />

payments was subject to offset. I sure didn’t hate the extra millions paid to<br />

1<br />

Table P-39 of the OCSE Preliminary Data Report for 2019.

families in my state in the middle of the pandemic; we are in the collection<br />

business after all.<br />

Notions of ability to pay and procedural justice are not new to child support<br />

professionals. But in the course of evolving and improving the child support<br />

program for the families we serve, we can mark down April 21, <strong>2020</strong>, as a<br />

point in time when NCSEA looked at child support case management and<br />

went on record that the interests of self-sufficiency and sustained<br />

collections were such that a certain type of collection should be avoided—<br />

in this case, from a payment intended to protect public health by keeping<br />

people housed and able to meet other basic needs. Whether you agree or<br />

not in this particular case, such a thoughtful and balanced analysis of the<br />

situation of both parents will serve us well moving forward and shows how<br />

nuanced we have become as a program.<br />

James C. Fleming is the director of the <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Division of the North Dakota<br />

Department of Human Services, President of the National Council of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong><br />

Directors (NCCSD), and Treasurer of the National <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement<br />

Association (NCSEA). Jim is a member and former co-chair of NCSEA’s Policy and<br />

Government Relations Committee and NCCSD’s Policy and Practice Committee, and a<br />

member of the editorial committee for the NCSEA <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> <strong>CommuniQue</strong> (CSQ).<br />

A second-generation attorney, Jim earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the<br />

University of North Dakota and his Juris Doctorate from Notre Dame Law School.<br />

Print article here

COVID-19 Response and<br />

Transition to Telework<br />

by Leslie Prichard, Contact Wireless<br />

It’s a strange new world as child support agencies, employees, and parents<br />

attempt to navigate and respond to COVID-19. When the virus descended<br />

upon us this past spring and states shut down offices and halted person-toperson<br />

contact, child support agencies were forced to send staff home and<br />

quickly figure out how to provide and maintain critical child support<br />

services. Thus, we witnessed an explosion of telework offices across the<br />

nation.<br />

In a coast-to-coast look at the response to the pandemic throughout the<br />

child support community, the NCSEA CSQ Editorial Staff has queried<br />

agency leaders in small and large offices to find out how they responded,<br />

what worked, and what the future holds for telework. The feedback<br />

obtained may be helpful to your office as you prepare and manage<br />

operations as the pandemic continues to impact services, employees, and<br />

parents.<br />

Our participants answered a<br />

series of questions and provide<br />

extremely useful information as<br />

to what is working for their staff<br />

and parents. And, most<br />

importantly, they have shared<br />

their lessons learned from this<br />

unusual experience and the<br />

transition to working from home.<br />

The participants’ responses are<br />

listed below followed by a brief<br />

summary of their answers. We want to thank each participant for taking the<br />

time to provide this useful information.


Greg Wilson<br />

Executive Director<br />

<strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Directors Association of California<br />

(CSDA)<br />

Questions:<br />

1. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, did your agency/office utilize<br />

telework staff? If so, in what capacity and percentage?<br />

Neither CSDA nor the local child support agencies used telework very<br />

frequently. A few local child support agencies (LCSA) used limited<br />

telework, but on a case-by-case basis for select classifications. Most<br />

of the child support infrastructure required employees to report to a<br />

physical location: call center, lobby reception, mail room, interview<br />

rooms, etc.<br />

2. What challenges did you face in transitioning to a telework<br />

staff?<br />

We were missing policies and equipment. First, we had to quickly<br />

develop policies that addressed work schedules, staff availability, and<br />

confidentiality. And then we had to get computers, monitors, and<br />

telephones to the employees’ homes. We also had to ensure the<br />

employees had a spot at home that was not only comfortable but<br />

somewhat secure and private. The equipment caused a few<br />

problems. Internet connections were inconsistent across employees<br />

and the connection to the physical office was not as fast as it should<br />

be. While working in a physical office, upload speeds are not critical.<br />

But when you are connecting from home the office’s limited upload<br />

speed really caused a slowdown in productivity.<br />

3. Were there any procedures in place for transitioning to telework<br />

prior to the pandemic?<br />

I had been thinking about remote work for some years so had a<br />

general idea of the policies and equipment needed. All our<br />

employees were using laptops and we had changed out the phones

to a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system prior to the transition.<br />

So that made getting the computers and telephones to homes quite<br />

easy. Employees literally just packed them up and plugged in at<br />

home. We are set up now so we could work from anywhere in the<br />

world if we have an internet connection. We also transitioned from a<br />

traditional conference telephone system to the Zoom application<br />

before the transition, so we were able to keep running using video<br />

conferencing for meetings.<br />

4. What tools and/or policy did you find helpful for your staff as<br />

they worked from home?<br />

There are two: the upload speed for servers in the physical office and<br />

video conferencing. Before we upgraded the upload speed for the<br />

physical office servers, our work was really bogged down as all five of<br />

us logged in at the same time. The second was the video<br />

conferencing. Staff check in once daily in the morning which is a<br />

combination of catching up on each other’s lives and parsing out that<br />

days’ work. The daily connections have been valuable in maintaining<br />

a sense of teamwork and connection.<br />

5. Will telework staff continue in your office/agency after the<br />

pandemic?<br />

We are leaving the option in place for employees that wish to<br />

continue working remotely. It does not look like there is a clear end to<br />

the pandemic just yet, so it does not make sense to me to rush back<br />

into the office. We still must check on mail and do some paperwork<br />

filing, but nearly all the work can be done remotely. I think the only<br />

thing holding me back from moving to an all remote work environment<br />

is the office lease. If that were ending soon, I would likely not renew<br />

and just work remotely from there forward.<br />

6. Were there any benefits that arose from using a work-from-home<br />

staff that you were not expecting? Staff seem a bit happier and<br />

satisfied. They do not have morning and afternoon commutes and<br />

can have lunch with their families every day. There seems to be a bit

more focus on getting work done as well. The employees have told<br />

me they feel more productive and focused.<br />


Kaye Templeton<br />

Deputy Director<br />

Denver <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services<br />

Questions:<br />

1. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, did your agency/office utilize<br />

telework staff?<br />

No.<br />

2. What challenges did you face in transitioning to a telework<br />

staff?<br />

Ensuring that staff were provided with the proper technology<br />

necessary for work to continue to be completed while working from a<br />

remote location.<br />

3. Were there any procedures in place for transitioning to telework<br />

prior to the pandemic?<br />

Yes, the Division had developed a Continuity of Operations Plan to<br />

ensure work could be completed from home.<br />

4. What tools and/or policy did you find helpful for your staff as<br />

they worked from home?<br />

Laptops were previously issued to all staff within the Division. State<br />

and Federal guideline policy changed to allow for staff to engage with<br />

customers telephonically to conduct interviews and the need for “wet”<br />

signatures has been limited.

5. Will telework staff continue in your office/agency after the<br />

pandemic?<br />

Yes.<br />

6. Were there any benefits that arose from using a work-from-home<br />

staff that you were not expecting?<br />

Lower abandonment rates experienced in the Customer Call Center.<br />

Thoughtful development of virtual and electronic processes to<br />

complete legal documents and cases prepared for court.<br />


Troy Reiners<br />

Program Director<br />

Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office/SDU<br />

Questions:<br />

1. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, did your agency/office utilize<br />

telework staff?<br />

No<br />

2. What challenges did you face in transitioning to a telework<br />

staff?<br />

Overcoming resistance of staff to accept the change in their work<br />

environment. Assisting staff to understand they still have all<br />

resources required for them to complete their daily work tasks.<br />

Convincing staff of the environmental changes required in order to<br />

optimize the new work environment i.e. no more printing of paper,<br />

utilizing scanning and emailing of documents, communication no<br />

longer in person but now over the phone, Skype, or even mobile text<br />


3. Were there any procedures in place for transitioning to telework<br />

prior to the pandemic?<br />

Yes<br />

4. What tools and/or policy did you find helpful for your staff as<br />

they worked from home?<br />

Our network, availability of hardware (Just prior to COVID-19 we had<br />

ordered all new monitors/workstations for all staff), existing<br />

information technology infrastructure i.e. readily available VPN<br />

connection capability and security policies to assist staff in<br />

recognizing the continued importance of security necessary in a<br />

remote environment.<br />

5. Will telework staff continue in your office/agency after the<br />

pandemic?<br />

Yes, upper management is likely to be more open to permanent<br />

remote work once we have worked our way completely through the<br />

COVID-19 situation. Plans for updating our existing business<br />

continuity guidelines are already in the works with the changes we<br />

will need to make given learned experiences during the COVID-19<br />

time period.<br />

6. Were there any benefits that arose from using a work-from-home<br />

staff that you were not expecting?<br />

We did not expect to see the degree of improvements on nearly all<br />

our workflows in addition to the rapid adoption of our staff to embrace<br />

the remote work environment. Our office established more new<br />

records during the remote work environment then during any other<br />

time in the history of our office. Improvements came with better call<br />

volumes split amongst staff, improved digital communications with<br />

our clients, reduction of workflow times, physical resource savings<br />

included not just cost of paper, materials, postage, but a significant<br />

savings in time needed; basically we realized massive efficiencies<br />

due to being thrown into a new work environment. This speaks highly<br />

of our team and their abilities to adapt, embrace, and see what<br />

improvements could be realized; which all brought about more<br />

satisfied staff.


Sean Gorman<br />

Assistant Deputy Director<br />

Indiana <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Bureau<br />

Questions:<br />

1. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, did your agency/office utilize<br />

telework staff? If so, in what capacity and percentage?<br />

Prior to the pandemic, Indiana’s IV-D program staff utilized telework<br />

on a very limited basis. Indiana’s IV-D program is administered by the<br />

state’s <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Bureau (CSB), with most case management<br />

duties handled by county prosecutors in each of Indiana’s 92<br />

counties, operating under cooperative agreements. Prior to March<br />

<strong>2020</strong>, approximately 10% of CSB staff worked remotely – those<br />

remote working positions were almost exclusively represented by<br />

CSB’s staff assigned to assist county offices on a regional basis<br />

throughout the state.<br />

2. What challenges did you face in transitioning to a telework<br />

staff?<br />

Indiana’s IV-D agency experienced the same challenges that many<br />

organizations likely encountered who were able to transition to<br />

telework. There were logistical concerns, such as how to continue<br />

mailroom operations, how to print or receive hardcopy documents<br />

remotely, and the relative speed of the transition process. And for<br />

physical storage of documents containing sensitive information, CSB<br />

needed to evaluate how staff would be able to maintain those hard<br />

copy documents remotely.<br />

There were equipment challenges, as many workers had desktop<br />

computers and external monitors that were inconvenient to physically

move from the office to remote locations, lacked<br />

headphones/microphones, or had limited internet access at home.<br />

Finally, there were the personal challenges that many faced with the<br />

stress of the unknown course and risks of the pandemic, children<br />

home full time with schools and day-cares closed, and the adaptation<br />

to a home work environment with new distractions and the<br />

adjustment to the lack of physical proximity to coworkers and social<br />

isolation.<br />

3. Were there any procedures in place for transitioning to telework<br />

prior to the pandemic?<br />

CSB had in place, prior to the pandemic, broadly defined contingency<br />

plans that did not envision circumstances where a nearly complete<br />

transition to telework operations would be necessary for any duration.<br />

4. What tools and/or policy did you find helpful for your staff as<br />

they worked from home?<br />

CSB had begun piloting the use of Microsoft Teams for remote<br />

meetings and limited file sharing prior to the pandemic. This early<br />

experience helped prepare it for use agency wide after workers<br />

began teleworking full-time. Indiana implemented statewide policy for<br />

state government workers to provide flexibility for those who were<br />

burdened with personal responsibilities as a result of the pandemic<br />

that interfered with the ability to work the same schedule or number of<br />

hours.<br />

Increased flexibility for staff during the transition combined with a full<br />

embrace of the use of video meeting applications has kept staff in<br />

constant contact with management and coworkers and helped to<br />

keep everybody engaged in continuing to operate the child support<br />

program with no disruption.<br />

5. Will telework staff continue in your office/agency after the<br />

pandemic?<br />

Yes, indefinitely. Through the pandemic and going forward, CSB has<br />

a handful of positions that continue to work primarily at the main<br />

office to coordinate administrative tasks and to process and scan

incoming correspondence. Staff at the office have access to agency<br />

provided personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer, and<br />

are able to practice social distancing, especially now that 95% of the<br />

agency staff is exclusively working remotely.<br />

6. Were there any benefits that arose from using a work-from-home<br />

staff that you were not expecting?<br />

With only a few exceptions, staff report that they prefer the<br />

opportunity to continue working from home. Staff are saving money<br />

on transportation costs and enjoy greater flexibility in meeting work<br />

obligations while scheduling around family/home obligations. The<br />

forced transition to work from home provided an opportunity for the<br />

agency to engage staff in an evaluation of pre Covid-19 work<br />

process, interim processes, and how work should proceed going<br />

forward. CSB gained a greater understanding of new opportunities<br />

for improved work processes because of this.<br />

There are also some practical, cost-savings benefits that are<br />

becoming apparent: Remote workers are printing far fewer<br />

documents – Staff do not have agency issued personal printers and<br />

for the most part have adapted to working exclusively with electronic<br />

documents.<br />


Daniel Elsass<br />

Project Coordinator<br />

Allegheny County Family Division<br />

Questions:<br />

1. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, did your agency/office utilize<br />

telework staff? If so, in what capacity and percentage?<br />

Prior to the pandemic we did not utilize telework staff.

2. What challenges did you face in transitioning to a telework<br />

staff?<br />

We faced challenges in obtaining the necessary equipment,<br />

identifying the essential staff to move processes forward remotely.<br />

3. Were there any procedures in place for transitioning to telework<br />

prior to the pandemic?<br />

There were not any procedures in place prior to the pandemic. All of<br />

our current telework procedures were a product of the pandemic and<br />

the closure at the state level, which enabled us to pivot to telework.<br />

4. What tools and/or policy did you find helpful for your staff as<br />

they worked from home?<br />

As we moved to working from home, we found the use of smart<br />

phones, tablets, and laptops (hardware) became very important and<br />

discovered which pieces of hardware worked better than others for<br />

the different job functions within the court. We have utilized the<br />

Microsoft Teams platform consistently for remote meetings,<br />

document collaboration, file sharing and storage for those working<br />

remotely as the platform can be accessed on any piece of hardware<br />

available to our staff.<br />

5. Will telework staff continue in your office/agency after the<br />

pandemic?<br />

This is a question of continued discussion within our organization.<br />

There may be some jobs, or job functions that can continue to be<br />

handled from home after the pandemic through telework and remote<br />

access, though whether we will continue to utilize telework after the<br />

pandemic is a question of how our organization is changed by the<br />

pandemic.<br />

6. Were there any benefits that arose from using a work-from-home<br />

staff that you were not expecting?<br />

The introduction of new technologies to the courts was one of the<br />

unexpected benefits from the work-from-home model. The pandemic<br />

and the need for remote access opened us instantly to new<br />

technologies that we otherwise may have passed up without

consideration. Our staff has been keen to learn and innovate with the<br />

new models we are utilizing for remote work in order to continue to<br />

provide necessary services to our clients.<br />

Conclusion<br />

The participants’ responses have provided a valuable overview of office<br />

procedures, helpful tools and policy, and a glimpse into what the future may<br />

look like for child support offices.<br />

It is apparent from the responses that the move to telework, while initially<br />

challenging logistically, proved to be a positive experience overall with<br />

increased staff productivity<br />

and morale. As your office<br />

and staff continue to adapt to<br />

the new world of COVID-19<br />

through telework, we hope<br />

that this glimpse into what is<br />

working for other child<br />

support offices across the<br />

nation may be helpful to you in considering tools, policy and resources to<br />

make your transition smoother, more effective and result in a positive<br />

impact for your staff and parents.<br />

_________________________________________<br />

It is apparent from the responses that the<br />

move to telework, while initially<br />

challenging logistically, proved to be a<br />

positive experience overall with increased<br />

staff productivity and morale.<br />

Greg Wilson is the Executive Director of the <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Directors Association,<br />

serving the more than 6,500 employees of California’s Local <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Agencies.<br />

He has been a member of NCSEA for two years and currently serves on the Legislative<br />

Education Subcommittee. His areas of expertise are in association management,<br />

advocacy/lobbying, public administration and finance.<br />

Kaye Templeton has 18 years of experience in the <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services<br />

program. Her main focus has been customer outreach and education through the<br />

development of relationships with community partners and other stakeholders to build<br />

supportive Parenthood programs.<br />

Troy Reiners has been the Director of the Nebraska <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Payment Center<br />

(NCSPC) for 16 years. Troy appeared in Visa’s Currency of Progress campaign<br />

highlighting Visa’s partnering with governments. He has 31 years of management<br />

experience working for the NCSPC; in retail management as store manager, division

manager & special projects manager and eight years served in the Nebraska Army<br />

National Guard.<br />

Sean Gorman leads the Indiana <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Bureau’s Program <strong>Support</strong> Unit, which<br />

is responsible for policy analysis and development, ensuring Indiana’s compliance with<br />

federal mandates, supporting business initiatives, conducting outreach activities, and<br />

coordinating federal Data Reliability Audits and Self-Assessment activities.<br />

Daniel Elsass has worked for the Allegheny County Family Division since 2008. He is<br />

currently the Project Coordinator, serving since 2018. Daniel has a Bachelor of Science<br />

in Public Administration from Point Park University, and holds memberships to the<br />

Domestic Relations Association of Pennsylvania (DRAP), Eastern Regional Interstate<br />

<strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Association (ERICSA), National <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement Association<br />

(NCSEA).<br />

Print article here<br />




To Offset or Not to Offset:<br />

That is Not the Only Question<br />

by Erin Frisch, Michigan <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> &<br />

Kate Cooper Richardson, Oregon <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Program<br />

As IV-D programs around the country wrestled with policy and practice<br />

around the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES)<br />

Economic Impact Payments—the so-called stimulus payments—many of<br />

us found ourselves trying to balance the immediate needs of families with<br />

our traditional role of enforcing collections. While the crisis demanded an<br />

immediate response for both the families we serve and our own programs,<br />

we also felt the pull to think more deeply about our evolving values around<br />

supporting both parents for the well-being of children.<br />

Many states have worked hard over the last ten years to set orders that are<br />

manageable and based on ability to pay. We don’t get it 100% right, but in<br />

more and more cases, we no longer see the old-school orders figured on<br />

what it costs to raise a child regardless of means. If a parent doesn’t pay all<br />

or some support when an order is based on ability to pay, it’s not because<br />

we did a bad job setting an order—the parent has done a bad job following<br />

the order. It is our responsibility to get reliable, consistent financial support<br />

for children—when a parent doesn’t pay regularly, we must not lose sight of<br />

our purpose by shying away from using the tools available to us.<br />

Setting payable orders is only the start, however. Things change. Once an<br />

order is in place, we’re usually not nimble enough to respond to rapidly<br />

shifting family circumstances. The system we operate within hasn’t caught<br />

up to our recognition that payers and recipients of child support need us to<br />

consider their entire economic situation for the good of their children. When

there is economic hardship—and there is a lot of it—our program still<br />

doesn’t serve families well. How do we balance our core responsibility to<br />

collect child support without driving a family further into poverty? When<br />

Congress decided that the stimulus payments would be subject to offset for<br />

past-due child support, and to use the federal tax offset program to execute<br />

the policy, that question became fundamental.<br />

Many states initially reacted to the CARES Act by trying to figure out how<br />

not to intercept stimulus payments. The federal tax offset program was<br />

created to first “pay back” state and federal government for expenditures<br />

from the Title IV-A (cash assistance) program, to recoup public assistance<br />

costs. That means intercepted funds go first to government arrears, not to<br />

family arrears. It quickly became clear after the rushed passage of the<br />

CARES Act that those in Congress who intentionally required intercepting<br />

past-due child support from the stimulus payments didn’t understand that<br />

most states’ collections through the federal tax offset enforcement tool<br />

don’t end up in the hands of families on either side. In addition, the difficulty<br />

in working with IRS dictates made wading through the required processes<br />

daunting. Many of us believed significant effort to recoup public assistance<br />

costs was not the goal of the stimulus payment and was the wrong thing to<br />

do during a crisis, especially one so unpredictable.<br />

The federal tax offset program is<br />

complicated and much of it is out of our<br />

control. While many states would have<br />

liked to find a more nuanced way of<br />

distributing stimulus payments, the fact<br />

is there are not many options available<br />

The federal tax offset program<br />

is complicated and much of it<br />

is out of our control.<br />

to us. A few states managed to make some distribution changes<br />

depending on the flexibility of their automated systems, state laws and<br />

rules, tolerance for risk, and the policy support (or pressure) of their elected<br />

state leadership. That’s not enough. Overall changes in the federal offset<br />

program itself are needed that better reflect the balanced approach child<br />

support programs are attempting to take. Without changes, there are very<br />

practical reasons to avoid intercepting stimulus payments at all.<br />

As an income transfer program, we strive for balance in our guidelines<br />

calculations and setting of orders. Fairness is important, and equity should<br />

always be a consideration. Because a stimulus payment was extended to<br />

every person (plus children in the home), there isn’t inequity between

families of payers and recipients--the financial equation remains balanced.<br />

In other words, without an offset, relatively speaking, neither parent is<br />

worse off nor better off than before the stimulus payments hit their<br />

respective bank accounts. The parent with the children in the home<br />

receives more than the parent without children in the home, also consistent<br />

with a balanced equation. That’s not to say that the overall equation is<br />

balanced—because, indeed, it is not if arrears are owed—and that is a<br />

solid basis of the argument for offset. But in this unique circumstance, with<br />

a one-time payment across the board to all citizens, it is neutral. It’s fair at<br />

the micro-level (each person receives a payment) and does not affect the<br />

macro-level (the case balance is status quo).<br />

There are practical drawbacks to offsetting the stimulus payments—and<br />

those drawbacks can extend to<br />

regular federal tax offsets as well.<br />

There’s been significant<br />

administrative expense, delay, and<br />

disruption caused by the offset<br />

process of stimulus payments,<br />

especially when the offset process<br />

deviates from the standard tax<br />

offset process. In addition, public<br />

confusion and angst (on all sides of<br />

Our program resources are a zero-sum<br />

game, which means that right now<br />

significant resources are being drawn<br />

away from our regular work to focus on<br />

this matter for many weeks. That in turn<br />

means that other cases, activities, and<br />

actions suffer, which ultimately has a<br />

negative impact on families.<br />

the equation) divert attention and time of child support staff to calls, emails,<br />

and inquiries that are not easy conversations, even with parents who will be<br />

receiving the offset funds. Our program resources are a zero-sum game,<br />

which means that right now significant resources are being drawn away<br />

from our regular work to focus on this matter for many weeks. That in turn<br />

means that other cases, activities, and actions suffer, which ultimately has<br />

a negative impact on families. It’s tangible across our programs right now—<br />

while there are some gains against arrears, there also are losses<br />

elsewhere in establishment, modification, and enforcement because we<br />

cannot get to those pressing matters as quickly.<br />

The child support program struggles with its public perception, and<br />

Congress’ choice that the stimulus payments be offset only for child<br />

support thrust our program alone to the front of the stage with a bright<br />

spotlight on us—but without us knowing our lines in the play, if you will. The<br />

stimulus payment is a unique, one-time event in a time of deep national

crisis and anxiety—and our bureaucratic program is now smack in the<br />

middle of it for many citizens. Our reputation is taking a beating, and this<br />

experience may damage some of the good work we’ve done on that front.<br />

We haven’t been able to be clear and forthright with customers because we<br />

haven’t known (and still don’t completely know) how it all works. We can’t<br />

be swift for a great number of reasons (including that we haven’t yet<br />

received all the offset funds, although our customers are strongly<br />

convinced otherwise since many of them have received notices of offset<br />

from the U.S. Treasury). The perceived obstructionism on our part irritates<br />

everyone—paying parents, parents who’ll receive support, and injured<br />

spouses. These practical problems were foreseeable and undermine the<br />

policy goal of quickly getting money to families and into the economy.<br />

All our social service systems,<br />

including the child support program,<br />

are not separate or objective. They<br />

have been constructed by humans<br />

with intent and bias. In this instance,<br />

while it might seem that the tax offset<br />

program is complex and diffused “just<br />

because,” it was designed a long time<br />

ago for policy goals that are no longer<br />

as relevant. We know there is more to<br />

our program than just collections, yet the tools available to us and our<br />

incentivized goals leave little room for meaningful policy change. We must<br />

advocate for changes to the tax offset program that better align with our<br />

values as a child support program.<br />

At a minimum, we need a way to identify the receipts coming to us from the<br />

IRS, especially “special payments.” Doing so would give state programs<br />

some ability to control our policies around distribution to account for things<br />

like economic hardship or extenuating circumstances. Another suggestion:<br />

allow states to determine which cases are submitted for offset. As we move<br />

toward tailoring case management activities to the specific needs of<br />

families, we need to build the flexibility into our regulations. These changes<br />

would also allow us the ability to avoid intercepting funds that were<br />

intended for children in the first place.<br />

As we think about the needs of families both paying and receiving child<br />

support—including how best to serve them responsively, especially low-

income families—we see other program changes that could help us live our<br />

values. Basing intercepts on income (similar to how the stimulus payments<br />

were paid out) is one way. If income of the debtor is less than a certain<br />

amount, we would not be allowed to intercept for child support. We also<br />

need a legal distribution option to pay family-owed debt before state-owed<br />

debt when it’s clear the goal is to use this program for more than<br />

recoupment of public assistance. Finally, requiring states to have hardship<br />

policies and procedures (that actually work) would allow us to make<br />

determinations quickly when it’s not the right thing to collect through offset.<br />

Sound policy poorly executed doesn’t achieve its purpose—witness the<br />

stimulus payment. Outdated policy perpetually executed doesn’t move our<br />

society forward—witness the federal tax offset program. We assert that<br />

who we say we want to be and who we are don’t line up yet—to get there<br />

we are going to have to really change our programs and policies around<br />

our systems of enforcement, including this one. Sign us up.<br />

_________________________________________<br />

Erin Frisch became the Title IV-D Director for Michigan and Director of the Michigan<br />

Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> (OCS) in<br />

2012. Erin served for a year as Senior Chief Deputy for Opportunity at MDHHS where<br />

she oversaw the children’s services agency, the Bureau of Community Services, and<br />

the Economic Stability Administration where she focused on integration between public<br />

assistance programs and health, community services, child support and child welfare to<br />

reduce poverty for Michiganders. Erin is a former President of the National Council of<br />

<strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Directors and serves on the Board of Directors for NCSEA.<br />

Kate Cooper Richardson is the administrator of the Oregon Department of Justice<br />

Division of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> and the director of the Oregon <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Program,<br />

Oregon’s federal Title IV-D program. Kate joined the Program in 2010,and was<br />

appointed by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in January 2013 as director. A<br />

graduate of Willamette University School of Law, her public service career spans work<br />

in all three branches of state government, including eight years as Chief of Staff to the<br />

Oregon State Treasurer. Kate is an NCSEA board member and has served as co-chair<br />

of the Policy & Government Relations Committee, and an active member of NCCSD.<br />

Print article here

Insights from the Private Sector:<br />

Pandemic Lessons and the New Normal<br />

by Scott Cade, Vice President and Managing Director<br />

of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>, Conduent<br />

It is the summer of <strong>2020</strong> and we are in the middle of a global pandemic.<br />

This pandemic has touched all of us both personally and professionally,<br />

and the road ahead remains uncertain. The spread of COVID-19 has not<br />

only changed how we live our lives and conduct our business but has<br />

vividly reminded us that none of us are an island and our choices impact<br />

others.<br />

Conduent is an industry leading child support provider, delivering mission<br />

critical services and solutions on behalf of our state child support<br />

customers. Our goal is to create exceptional outcomes for our clients and<br />

the millions of children and families who count on them—and while the<br />

pandemic cannot change that goal, it certainly has changed how we work<br />

to achieve it. In early March, state and county child support programs<br />

began to close offices, including courts, to fight COVID-19’s spread. As a<br />

State Disbursement Unit (SDU) and system maintenance provider to states<br />

coast to coast, we too were challenged by the health and safety risks that<br />

drove government decisions to close offices and send workers home.<br />

Because uninterrupted child support payment processing was defined as<br />

an essential service, we worked with our state customers to devise staffing<br />

plans that supported daily payment processing throughout the pandemic.<br />

Our company implemented new health and safety policies consistent with<br />

CDC recommendations and state-specific guidelines and enhanced certain<br />

employee benefits related to the pandemic. Keeping our workers and<br />

workplaces safe was fundamental to our ability to support our state<br />

customers and their constituents.<br />

As March turned to April, the economic impacts of the pandemic took hold<br />

and unemployment filings soared to historic levels. With 75% of all child<br />

support paid by income withholding, widespread job loss led directly to

lower child support payment volumes in April. Stimulus payment and<br />

Unemployment Benefit intercepts were collected towards arrears. With<br />

offices closed, loss of income, reduced payments and now intercepts,<br />

families served through the child support program sought answers through<br />

any available customer service channel. At times, this stressed the<br />

customer support model implemented to augment socially-distanced work<br />

environments with work-from-home resources.<br />

May and June brought realization that this pandemic was not going away<br />

anytime soon. Solutions designed to address short-term interruption had to<br />

be re-evaluated. Staff who covered assignments for colleagues unable to<br />

work due to health or child care issues were exhausted. Many vacation<br />

plans were canceled due to travel or social gathering restrictions. Under<br />

these circumstances, empathy was critical to our continued ability to deliver<br />

for our customers.<br />

I have worked in the child support program for almost twenty years. In that<br />

time, I have served as a State IV-D Director, President of the National <strong>Child</strong><br />

<strong>Support</strong> Enforcement Association (NCSEA), and the leader of Conduent’s<br />

child support business. In each of those roles I initiated and experienced<br />

change. As I reflect on those experiences, consider the events and lessons<br />

of the last several months, and look ahead to the future, I’m reminded that:<br />

• <strong>Child</strong> support professionals are resilient and committed to the<br />

program’s mission of serving children and families. Every payment<br />

received at a Conduent SDU during this pandemic has been<br />

processed on time, so families facing other potential uncertainties did<br />

not have to worry about their child support payment being delayed.<br />

• Electronics are more sustainable. Digital interactions, whether<br />

payments, correspondence or notifications, continue uninterrupted<br />

when mailrooms and print shops are impacted by closures. Digital<br />

interactions can also be exchanged faster, more reliably, and at<br />

lesser expense.<br />

• Clear, consistent and continuous communications are a critical<br />

aspect of leadership. During the pandemic, effective communications<br />

have been key to implementing new policies, successfully<br />

transitioning large numbers of employees to work from home and<br />

maintaining awareness of dynamic issues.

As state and county child support programs across the country start<br />

contemplating their post-COVID reality, I recommend considering:<br />

• “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Acknowledge and embrace the<br />

fact that the pre-COVID way of delivering services will change. For<br />

example, due to restrictions on large gatherings and the transition of<br />

many staff to work from home, consider the exclusive adoption of<br />

online training.<br />

• Re-focus on the “why” not the “how.” Focusing on performance<br />

achievement rather than process compliance can result in good<br />

conversations and potentially creative solutions—we’ve already seen<br />

it happen.<br />

• Lead with empathy. Change can be hard. Time and again, child<br />

support professionals in state and county offices have embraced<br />

change through new policies, practices, and technology. This time,<br />

however, empathy will be especially important as each of us brings<br />

our own COVID thoughts and experiences to the question of change.<br />

How the pandemic will impact our lives in the days and months ahead may<br />

be unclear, but it’s clear that our approach to work in the future won’t look<br />

exactly like the past. Some decisions may be temporary, others permanent,<br />

but all will be informed by our experiences during this pandemic period.<br />

Scott Cade is currently Vice President and Managing Director of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> at<br />

Conduent, former New York State IV-D Director, Past President and Honorary Lifetime<br />

Member of NCSEA, and Kathy Duggan Memorial Award recipient. Conduent is<br />

NCSEA’s Platinum Partner.<br />

Print article here<br />

NCSEA On Location features a variety of<br />

podcasts on relevant topics for child support<br />

professionals. Listen to thought-leaders in<br />

human services discuss important issues with<br />

our NCSEA hosts.

Insights from the Private Sector:<br />

Pulling Together as Partners,<br />

Professionals, and Peers<br />

by Laura Rosenak, Senior Vice President<br />

Maximus Health and Human Services<br />

In an environment where circumstances are changing rapidly and<br />

unemployment has skyrocketed, the need to provide holistic services for<br />

parents and children continues to be a critical service for all child support<br />

professionals. We, as a nation, remain in a crisis mode as a result of the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic. For individuals who are owed or owe support, that<br />

crisis has had a very real impact—whether the result of layoffs or lost<br />

income—on their financial and emotional circumstances.<br />

As a company, we’ve compiled numerous insights on what we’ve learned<br />

about the landscape of child support during a pandemic.<br />

• We realized that the need to continue services in unique ways is<br />

key to providing help, leveraging all available technologies and<br />

resources. From HIPAA-compliant Zoom hearings and meetings<br />

via video to informational text and email campaigns, staying in<br />

regular communication with those we serve to keep them informed<br />

about what to expect and when is what matters most. The<br />

insecurity of not knowing if a stipend will be offset, not knowing<br />

whether unemployment benefits will be offset, not knowing when<br />

hearings will be scheduled or orders entered as court and office<br />

closures impact all facets of the program, in turn deeply impacts<br />

those we serve. And across the nation, every program and vendor<br />

has responded to that need through the introduction of flexible<br />

solutions and methods, providing much needed information in the<br />

ways our customers both prefer and expect.<br />

• We know that right-sizing orders swiftly to help to minimize<br />

disruption of payments is necessary. Swift enhancements to digital<br />

capabilities to address that need in a secure environment enables<br />

individuals to submit critical information without the need to come

into the office or mail documents. Providing critical updates on the<br />

progress of a review and expediting outcomes is key to supporting<br />

the ability of both parties to know and understand what obligations<br />

will be in place for the family.<br />

• Our number one priority remains ensuring the health and wellbeing<br />

of our teams and those we serve. From office closures to<br />

controlled access to maintain operations (like having staff onsite to<br />

process mail), we’ve followed the Center for Disease Control and<br />

Prevention (CDC) guidelines, provided enhanced salary protection<br />

plans to support COVID-related circumstances, and worked in<br />

partnership with our clients to ensure the safety of not only our<br />

own teams, but our customers as well. As we work to reopen sites<br />

in various phases aligned with the states where we operate, we<br />

continue to put the safety of our teams at the forefront of the<br />

actions we take. From social distancing to the use of masks,<br />

gloves, decontamination cleaning efforts, enhanced cleaning<br />

protocols, glass and plexiglass partitions, and more, the need to<br />

work together as a society to help curb the continuation of the<br />

pandemic is key to our operations and our core philosophy as a<br />

company.<br />

Partnership continues to be the cornerstone of recovery. Together, as child<br />

support professionals, we must partner to provide the best service possible<br />

to those in need. The need to understand our program and the policies<br />

surrounding child support is morphing into a need to understand what<br />

programs are available to the families we serve to help with housing, child<br />

care, financial needs, and more. To that end, we’ve broadened our rapport<br />

with local services to include food banks, clothing, and ministry services, as<br />

well as many other partnerships. While multi-generational programs have<br />

been in place for years at most of our offices, expanding those initiatives to<br />

focus on the core family and their needs in this unprecedented landscape<br />

has become a major focus for our teams. Finding new resources,<br />

leveraging existing partners, and establishing firmer and wider networks to<br />

help families today, in this environment, is our mission. We know that<br />

finding resources to assist families has made a great impact over the years.<br />

And now, more than ever, those relationships are needed to simply help

the children and parents we serve find that emotional and financial security<br />

they need.<br />

Our world has changed—both at a macro and micro level. Civil unrest,<br />

financial instability, and uncertainty about the future demand that we pull<br />

together as partners, professionals, and peers to provide the best level of<br />

support to those most in need. It’s what we do, it’s what we’ve done, and<br />

now, more than ever, it’s what we must continue to do.<br />

Laura Rosenak has more than 25 years of direct experience managing health and<br />

human services operations and provides executive oversight for the Maximus North<br />

America child support practice, including full-service outsourced operations, new hire<br />

reporting, voluntary paternity acknowledgment programs, national medical support<br />

notice (NMSN) processing, financial institution data matching (FIDM), call center and<br />

contact center contracts, and specialized services projects. Maximus is NCSEA’s Gold<br />

Partner.<br />

Print article here


by Karen Hebert, New Hampshire Bureau of <strong>Child</strong><br />

<strong>Support</strong> Services<br />

What became apparent to directors, like so many around<br />

the world, was knowing no one is alone in this crisis. This is a powerful<br />

realization, igniting strength and a sense of greater control, as people all<br />

over the world are fighting a single threat, and for the most part trying to do<br />

it together.<br />

At Center Stage<br />

In the strong child support community, IV-D directors have always played<br />

an important leadership role in the success of the program. How they fare<br />

as leaders, and are later judged, is determined by their skills, adaptability,<br />

and characteristics to lead, particularly in times of emergent crisis or<br />

extraordinary unplanned change.<br />

The current situation lends itself to a<br />

metaphor. Literature and filmmaking (and<br />

even politics) have gifted us with<br />

character types that nearly always include<br />

a protagonist—often the hero. By design,<br />

there is also an antagonist or “foil” whose<br />

role is to emphasize the characteristics of<br />

the protagonist. Tybalt in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a marvelous<br />

example of a foil character, as is Lord Voldemort to Harry Potter.<br />

Not unlike infamous foils, COVID-19 has played a tremendous antagonist<br />

role that has accentuated the leadership qualities and abilities of IV-D<br />

directors. Who knew that something unseen by the eye alone could be<br />

such a powerful catalyst for leading? If there is any positive from this<br />

experience for directors, this may be it.<br />

Blue Skies<br />

“Even though we’ve got a fight<br />

ahead of us, we’ve got one<br />

thing that Voldemort doesn’t<br />

have….something worth<br />

fighting for.”<br />

- Harry Potter<br />

In early <strong>2020</strong>, state child support directors were making great progress in<br />

taking the child support program to new levels, envisioning their “blue sky.”<br />

Progress was being made in system modernization, new service delivery<br />

models, and public relations. Directors were engaged in policy issues

elated to business, such as child support incentives, employer relations,<br />

and intergovernmental cooperation.<br />

Suddenly that stopped. What had seemed like a problem for those on the<br />

other side of the world almost instantly became a complete global crisis,<br />

like a surreal sequel to the 1995 medical disaster film, Outbreak. No one<br />

ever could have predicted what was about to happen. Directors faced one<br />

of the most extraordinary events of their time as leaders.<br />

Coordinating in Chaos<br />

Typically, organizational leaders strategize<br />

long-term plans, evaluated annually. To<br />

coordinate in the emergent chaos, directors<br />

were forced to immediately resynchronize in<br />

24-hour periods—not an easy task.<br />

Continuity of operations, particularly<br />

maintaining mission-essential functions,<br />

was, well, essential. The landscape<br />

changed, sometimes even hourly, as<br />

“…in chaotic, there is no<br />

apparent relationship<br />

between cause and effect,<br />

requiring near-constant<br />

coordination.”<br />

- Ret. U.S. Army<br />

General Stanley<br />

McCrystal (2016)<br />

agencies deployed emergency operations centers, incident management<br />

teams, and continuity of operations plans. Governmental agencies have<br />

never changed the business environment and methods so quickly. Leaders<br />

turned to technology and support from IT departments to deploy as many<br />

staff members as possible with cobbled-together equipment to work from<br />

home. For staff who could not telework, office workspaces were<br />

transformed with hand-washing stations, 6-foot taped intervals on the floor,<br />

and shuttered conference rooms. These remarkable exercises took only<br />

days to implement and complete, challenging directors’ decision-making<br />

abilities.<br />

Catching their breath, directors turned to the status of partners and<br />

stakeholders, such as the courts. How was the pandemic impacting them?<br />

What did that mean for child support services? Each state was<br />

experiencing unfolding challenges to the delivery of services in the chaotic<br />

environment. With profound needs from staff and customers at stake, this<br />

was a time to lead. This was a time to show what leadership in public<br />

service is all about.

Testing Strength and Agility<br />

Leaders have leadership behavior choices during a crisis. Being a leader<br />

means, at any time yet amplified by crisis, having to shift quickly among<br />

several leadership styles, which is extremely difficult when information in a<br />

chaotic environment changes at light speed. Managing crisis also means<br />

remaining influential and being less averse to risk. Strategies and decisions<br />

forged in the fire of a crisis can generate innovation, which inherently<br />

requires risk, strong focus, and unity throughout an organization, and<br />

throughout that organization’s entire community.<br />

Before the pandemic, directors already felt relatively stressed—it comes<br />

with the job. The COVID-19 pandemic presented IV-D directors with<br />

challenges never before part of daily life in the child support community.<br />

Directors have rapidly revised policies, created new business processes,<br />

mitigated risk to virus exposure, suspended services, developed internal<br />

and external communication plans, and sought technological solutions—all<br />

while trying to ensure service delivery didn’t suffer. Some staff and their<br />

family members experienced personal challenges including loss of income,<br />

loss of childcare, illness, vulnerability, and even death. Directors have<br />

needed to be strong for them. There were days when directors felt they just<br />

didn’t have the strength and their own stress levels were bulging at the<br />

seams. Emotional intelligence was in constant flex. Directors could only<br />

hope they didn’t get sick themselves—and some have. Each director has<br />

his or her own story to tell. How they managed all of this is where we find<br />

strength and agility.<br />

The incapacity to carry out<br />

mission-essential functions is<br />

a tragedy itself, pouring salt<br />

on the wounds that families<br />

are already suffering from.<br />

With little or no data in some areas, states are<br />

challenged to truly understand the pandemic’s<br />

effects on collections, service delivery,<br />

productivity, and funding sources. Antiquated<br />

tools and technology in many states prevent<br />

states from conducting certain program<br />

functions, reporting performance accurately, or meeting federal and state<br />

legal requirements. Some states have experienced reductions in staff or an<br />

inability to operate in alternative locations. The incapacity to carry out<br />

mission-essential functions is a tragedy itself, pouring salt on the wounds<br />

that families are already suffering from.

As if the internal chaos wasn’t enough for directors, inflammatory stories<br />

appeared in the media in which opponents of child support called for the<br />

prohibition of key services, such as income withholding, which would only<br />

jeopardize families. Meanwhile, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic<br />

Security Act (CARES) Act created new challenges for directors who worked<br />

hard to make the relief fair and effective for families, while waiting for<br />

federal guidance that stalled in a new extended clearance process,<br />

exacerbating the situation. Congressional activities led to questions and<br />

positioning from governors and state legislators, to which directors needed<br />

to respond and assist. For some directors, working with their governors or<br />

legislators was a first-time experience, accompanied by spotlights, media<br />

and added pressure. To add to the already-overflowing platter of<br />

challenges, directors were facing significant budgetary concerns to support<br />

the program when federal financial rates changed, which will unfavorably<br />

affect some states. Directors also sought timely relief from federal legal<br />

requirements, effective during a state’s emergency declaration. Federal<br />

guidance was received at the end of May and directors continue to work<br />

with federal partners to interpret and understand from which requirements<br />

states can and cannot seek relief.<br />

The pandemic then collided with a public uprising in response to events<br />

that highlighted the vast inequities in race and class across the country.<br />

While equity is not a new subject for the child support program, tragedy<br />

brought opportunity to view service delivery methods, policy, and data<br />

collection through an equitable lens.<br />

Forging Ahead Together<br />

Culture among child support directors is that of one community, united,<br />

which began several years ago by a small number of directors who sought<br />

out support from each other to share information and resolve issues. Since<br />

then the IV-D directors, through the National Council of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong><br />

Directors (NCCSD), have enjoyed strong camaraderie and a culture with<br />

regular, open, honest communication—where solutions to challenges are<br />

created, policy is developed, and growth and learning are fostered. Coming<br />

together with NCCSD has generated innovation, abundant sharing, and a<br />

little therapy.

The year <strong>2020</strong> has been, and continues to be, a time of considerable<br />

pressure. More than ever, support from the entire child support community<br />

has been needed, particularly from key partners. When the federal voice<br />

became uncharacteristically and perplexingly moderated and delayed,<br />

directors turned to each other for solutions. Symbiotic relationships with key<br />

partners are paramount in government. Directors continue to collaborate<br />

and endeavor to progress with their federal partner and focus on the road<br />

ahead.<br />

Knowing no one is alone in this crisis is a powerful realization, igniting<br />

strength and a sense of greater control, as people all over the world are<br />

fighting a single threat and, for the most part, trying to do it together.<br />

Throughout the pandemic, directors have met frequently (virtually, of<br />

course). With support from NCCSD, they keep each other informed of their<br />

respective state’s service abilities and status of operations. Directors have<br />

actively shared and sought solutions for numerous affected business<br />

functions and processes. They have addressed system and policy changes<br />

and quickly developed emergency contracts, internal and public<br />

messaging, as well as resources for staff and for customers. Our child<br />

support protagonists have discussed the need to recalibrate from this<br />

pandemic, referring to it as a disruption and choosing to look forward. They<br />

are combining their strengths and continuing to lead the program and its<br />

mission.<br />

Humanity is a natural foil for<br />

inhumanity, and humanity is<br />

what will ultimately keep us<br />

Directors are grateful for each other’s open<br />

doors and willingness to continue sharing and<br />

supporting, making them all very successful<br />

going when all else has leaders. The pandemic of <strong>2020</strong> has indeed<br />

failed.<br />

become that perfect foil for IV-D directors,<br />

- Margaret Cho highlighting their extraordinary leadership skills<br />

and abilities. This is a time to celebrate public<br />

service and a chance to step up and flex a little leadership muscle.<br />

_________________________________________<br />

Karen Hebert has been the IV-D Director for the New Hampshire Department of Health<br />

and Human Services, Bureau of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services since 2018. NH <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong><br />

Services has an agency membership with NCSEA. Karen has worked in the NH child<br />

support program since 2006, overseeing policy, field operations, customer service, and<br />

interagency collaboration. She is Chair of the National Council of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>

Directors (NCCSD) Mentoring Committee and a member of the NCCSD Audit<br />

Committee. She represents NCCSD on a joint Public Relations Committee with NCSEA<br />

and the federal Office of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement (OCSE). Karen has a Bachelor of<br />

Science degree in Human Services from Springfield College and Master in Business<br />

Administration with a Leadership concentration from Norwich University.<br />

Print article here<br />

Previous Web-Talks are available on-demand in the We b-Talk Library.<br />

Presentations keep you up to date on the latest legislative activity,<br />

management trends, industry best practices and subjects of special interest<br />

to child support professionals. Log into your NCSEA account to access this<br />

valuable resource.

Training: How We Became<br />

Quick Change Artists<br />

by Verna Donnelly, North Carolina <strong>Child</strong><br />

<strong>Support</strong> Services<br />

Some of us may have wondered how Superman felt, constantly changing<br />

from Clark Kent to Superman in an instant. When the coronavirus struck,<br />

the North Carolina training team got a glimpse into Superman’s life. We<br />

had to immediately think about how we were going to deliver training to all<br />

100 counties in the state of North Carolina through avenues other than an<br />

in-person class and do it quickly while still delivering quality service. We<br />

had to re-tool and not stew over the fact that we had already published our<br />

training schedule for January <strong>2020</strong> – June <strong>2020</strong>, which called for a 2-day<br />

training for each course, 2 trainers, an on-site location, and 20-25<br />

participants with access to a computer and a secure internet connection.<br />

Even though our training would not be as frequent, we still had to provide<br />

training using the technology we had available, keep the components that<br />

had already been developed for classroom training, offer a platform for<br />

questions that may be asked<br />

during the training, and develop<br />

and deliver additional training<br />

resources.<br />

The team put their heads<br />

together and began strategizing,<br />

laying out the process to get<br />

these items accomplished. We<br />

took the training guides created for the classroom training and used them<br />

to help configure virtual training classes. We reduced the classes to two, 2-<br />

hour sessions each day, and decided to use the GoToTraining platform as<br />

our delivery mechanism. We compartmentalized class exercises, cross<br />

pollinating with technology to elicit group discussions and answers. To<br />

make sure our frequency of training was not lost, we posed questions and<br />

policy answers to case mangers weekly to check their knowledge and have

information readily available. This has kept our counties looking forward to<br />

something new each week. We are continuously developing small training<br />

modules (known as mini-training) from larger specialized training. They are<br />

created in a series usually consisting of topics with related subtopics. Each<br />

subtopic lasts approximately 15 minutes within the series. To make sure we<br />

covered all bases, we developed a self-guided, interactive training which<br />

allows the trainee to start and stop the training when necessary or to<br />

choose an area to focus on within the training. Our training process is such<br />

that we continue engaging with our counties.<br />

trainees and in a variety of different ways.<br />

When Clark Kent changes to<br />

Superman, he never knows<br />

what the outcome will be. We<br />

felt that way when we started<br />

down this virtual training path.<br />

We have found these new<br />

training processes work better<br />

than our old way of training as<br />

we are able to reach more<br />

As we look to the future, we are excited to continue creating these new and<br />

innovative ways to keep our counties trained and engaged.<br />

_________________________________________<br />

Verna Donnelly is the Assistant Chief of Program Operations for the State of North<br />

Carolina <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Program, with overall responsibility for policy and training, the<br />

central registry, State Parent Locate Services and customer support for the program.<br />

Verna is a graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has over 20<br />

years of child support experience. Within those 20 years she has worked at the local<br />

level of child support in Louisiana and North Carolina in various capacities and<br />

contractually on the Automated Collection and Tracking System (ACTS) Project for the<br />

State of North Carolina child support system.<br />

Print article here

NCSEA is excited to introduce INSPIRE, a virtual event<br />

designed to inspire child support professionals in<br />

approaching their work, colleagues, clients, and customers;<br />

to help them discover new and invigorating<br />

approaches to their jobs.<br />

NCSEA INSPIRE consists of plenary and workshop sessions, learning labs, NCSEA<br />

Book Club, and <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Hackathon – a variety of formats and presentations. It’s<br />

all FREE for NCSEA members and those receiving member benefits.<br />

The cancellation of the NCSEA <strong>2020</strong> Leadership Symposium was certainly<br />

disappointing. However, we recognize the importance of providing key training and<br />

resources to our membership, as well as offering opportunities to connect and learn<br />

from colleagues around the country during this unique time.<br />

NCSEA INSPIRE meets those needs. It’s a virtual engagement event scheduled over<br />

four weeks in October and requires a commitment of no more than two hours per day.<br />

You can pick and<br />

choose sessions that<br />

interest you and fit<br />

your schedule. We<br />

recognize that<br />

everyone won’t be able to<br />

attend every session,<br />

but each session will be<br />

recorded and made<br />

available to our members<br />

on demand.<br />

The NCSEA<br />

INSPIRE planning<br />

committee—formerly<br />

the Leadership Symposium<br />

Planning<br />

Committee—is working<br />

diligently to bring<br />

informative presentations<br />

to you, identifying<br />

topics of particular<br />

relevance and<br />

interest. In addition, we will<br />

utilize creative<br />

formats, including learning<br />

labs, for interactive and engaging sessions. There is a variety of programming to select<br />

and participate in.<br />

We will certainly miss seeing our friends and colleagues and the opportunity to network<br />

and learn from each other in Anaheim this year. However, our hope is to offer the child<br />

support community the opportunity to learn, engage, and be INSPIRED. Registration<br />

for NCSEA INSPIRE will open in early September and is free to NCSEA members and<br />

those receiving member benefits. Look for additional information about INSPIRE<br />

coming via email and check the (new) NCSEA website for additional information.<br />

Get ready to be INSPIRED – check out the NCSEA INSPIRE website today.

Work/Life Balance: The Never-<br />

Ending Pursuit<br />

Part 2 – Emotional and Mental<br />

Wellbeing<br />

by Mike Moreno, Human Capital Manager,<br />

Deloitte, LLP<br />

This article complements the NCSEA On Location Podcast,<br />

Work/Life Balance Series – Part 2, released on <strong>August</strong> 20,<br />

<strong>2020</strong>. In this podcast, Jennifer Coultas, Los Angeles County<br />

<strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>; Mike Moreno, Deloitte Consulting; and Kim<br />

Newsome Bridges, Conduent address how emotional and<br />

mental wellbeing play a critical role for employees with<br />

work/life balance issues. The podcast was recorded prior to<br />

the onset of the coronavirus pandemic but remains relevant.<br />

Finding work-life balance has never been more challenging than it is in our<br />

current environment. We are all reeling from the daily impacts of the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting to a new sense of what normal life looks<br />

like. Given the uncertainty and collective anxiety many of us are<br />

experiencing in our new “reality,” we may find ourselves examining our<br />

thoughts, feelings, and behaviors more closely. We may also find we are<br />

worrying more, not sleeping as well, or have a looming sense of fear and<br />

dread with a future that is unknown. This confluence of anxieties has a<br />

direct impact on emotional-mental health and is compounded by prolonged<br />

social limitations.<br />

Additionally, we parents who have the privilege to work at home during this<br />

unprecedented time may find ourselves with increased pressure to figure<br />

out how to care for our children and still meet work obligations. Those<br />

without children have other challenges, such as figuring out how to turn

work off, carve out personal time, and deal with potentially overwhelming<br />

social isolation.<br />

One positive outcome of this crisis is that people seem to be more willing to<br />

talk openly about their mental health issues. Many of us struggle with<br />

anxiety in normal circumstances, but the past several months have been<br />

very difficult for everyone. The fact that we are all going through something,<br />

to one degree or another, is helping us<br />

realize that our challenges are not<br />

something to be ashamed of—they<br />

are experiences to be shared. In the<br />

workplace, we should be allowed to be<br />

open and honest about our own<br />

mental health, thereby reinforcing that<br />

it is “okay” to struggle and feel the way<br />

we feel.<br />

Many times, it is hard to self-identify mental health symptoms, as it can be<br />

challenging to be aware of gradual changes within our own psyche until<br />

those changes require more professional intervention. Therefore, be on<br />

alert during these times and be proactive in minding your mental health<br />

through self-examination, connecting with others, and utilizing educational<br />

resources and professional services.<br />

_________________________________<br />

Mike Moreno joined Deloitte Consulting LLP in 2016 as a Human Capital Manager. He<br />

brings over 10 years of experience in organization transformation activities including<br />

designing and deploying child support payment portals, crafting stakeholder<br />

communications, and providing insight into governmental policy. Prior to joining Deloitte,<br />

Mike was the Chief Executive Officer of Civic Communications LLC, a communications<br />

and management firm providing services with expertise in research, training, and<br />

technical assistance through a network of professionals with expertise in policymaking,<br />

branding, marketing, communication, and organizational change. Mike is an active<br />

leader in the child support community and previously served on the Board of Directors<br />

for the National <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement Association (NCSEA) and the Eastern<br />

Regional Interstate <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Association (ERICSA). Mike earned both his Bachelor<br />

of Music degree and Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) at Florida State<br />

University.<br />

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Live from the <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong><br />

Associations – It’s a Joint Virtual<br />

Event!<br />

“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts,<br />

acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When<br />

we all help one another, everybody wins.” -Jim Stovall<br />

Author Jim Stovall’s quote perfectly sums up the current collaboration<br />

efforts among the professional development associations that support the<br />

child support community. These efforts have led to an upcoming virtual<br />

event, “The New Normal: <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>,” a series of webinars that kicks off<br />

in September during the WICSEC conference.<br />

The child support community has always had strong professional<br />

development organizations. The Eastern Regional Interstate <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong><br />

Association (ERICSA), National <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Enforcement Association<br />

(NCSEA), National Council of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Directors (NCCSD), National<br />

Tribal <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Association (NTCSA), and the Western<br />

Intergovernmental <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Engagement Council (WICSEC) provide<br />

networking, training, and educational opportunities. These organizations<br />

support the child support community in many ways: in-person conferences,<br />

virtual training opportunities, and education for government leaders.<br />

The collaboration among the associations has been one of the good things<br />

to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the onset of the pandemic,<br />

the organizations had to make quick decisions about their upcoming<br />

training conferences. The association presidents began having regular<br />

phone calls to exchange information and advice on how to negotiate with<br />

hotels. Those conversations grew to include how the organizations were<br />

going to move forward to help our community.<br />

The associations recognize that the pandemic is the hot topic of<br />

conversation for our community. All of our programs are facing budget<br />

reductions, challenges with service delivery, teleworking employees, and<br />

changes to the practice of law. The community has had to deal with all

these things while continuing to provide critical services. Families need<br />

support right now more than ever.<br />

The associations are thrilled to announce a joint virtual event, The New<br />

Normal: <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>, which is made up of three webinars:<br />

The New Normal: <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> –<br />

Employees<br />

Thursday,<br />

September 17<br />

8:30 am<br />

PST<br />

The New Normal: <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> –<br />

Legal<br />

The New Normal: <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> –<br />

External Customers<br />

Tuesday,<br />

September 22<br />

Tuesday,<br />

September 29<br />

10:00 am<br />

PST<br />

10:00 am<br />

PST<br />

These webinars will address a wide variety of pandemic-related topics and<br />

dive into what has worked, what hasn’t, and what might stay.<br />

We have lined up an outstanding panel of speakers for each webinar. The<br />

panel for both the Employees and External Customers events includes:<br />

• Carol Beecher, Director, Alaska <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services<br />

• Sandy Cloer, Division Director of Services, Eastern Band of<br />

Cherokee Indians Tribal <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong>, TANF and Representative<br />

Payee Programs<br />

• Tanguler Gray, Director, Georgia <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Program<br />

• Barbara Lacina, Director, Virginia Division of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong><br />

Enforcement<br />

• Melinda Self, Director, Contra Costa County (California) Department<br />

of <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Services<br />

The legal panel is equally distinguished:<br />

• Marsha Harlan, Attorney and President of the National Tribal <strong>Child</strong><br />

<strong>Support</strong> Association<br />

• Ethan McKinney, <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> Director, Deputy Prosecuting<br />

Attorney at St. Joseph County (Indiana) Office of the Prosecuting<br />

Attorney<br />

• Patrick Quinn, Administrator, Family Court, Allegheny County<br />

(Pennsylvania) Court of Common Pleas

• Ruth Anne Thornton, IV-D Director, Texas Office of the Attorney<br />

General<br />

Registration for the New Normal: <strong>Child</strong> <strong>Support</strong> – Employees will be<br />

handled through the registration process for the WICSEC conference. Visit<br />

the WICSEC website at www.wicsec.org for more information. Registration<br />

will open mid-<strong>August</strong>. Registration for the second and third events will be<br />

forthcoming.<br />

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