April 2021 CSQ
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Table of Contents
Community Corner: A Seat at the Table ...........................................................6
2021 Policy Forum Review………………………………………………………….9
Priorities for Improving the Child Support Program …………………….………12
Remembering Howard Baldwin…………………………………………………...17
PEP in a Pandemic Environment………………………………………………….20
NCSEA Legislative Update…………………………………………………………26
Messages From Our Corporate Members…………………….….……….29,42,52
Empowering the Movement for Change Through the Work of Diversity,
Equity, and Inclusion………………………………………….…………………….30
Pass-Through Payments to Families……………………………………………..36
Remembrance From NCSEA’s President………………………………………..43
Marketing the Child Support Program: A Public Relations
Study and Results…………………………………………………………………..45
Meet NCSEA U Alumni……………………………………………………………..53
President’s Message April 2021
by Lisa Skenandore, SMI
Policy Forum Connected: 2021 was recordbreaking!
Not only was this the first virtual forum,
but it shattered attendance records. With the theme
Moving Towards Equity through Policy, the overall
content delivery was a first as well.
After having some time to sit with the information presented, I realize that I
have more work to do in my own personal journey. I wouldn’t say I had an
aha moment, but I’ve recognized the need to work on continued self-growth
in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I hope you found the
presentations useful and informative. I know I’ve learned many helpful tips
and have begun follow-up work to assist in my own growth. I could easily
listen to many of the presentations over again. I especially liked Dr. Nita
Mosby Tyler’s, as it was easily relatable while still full of teachable
I had an interesting experience right around the time of the Policy Forum at
a car dealership where I take my vehicle for service. My car needed a
steering wheel coupler, and while there I was informed that my vehicle had
several additional issues needing attention. The mechanic reported my car
needed control arms, a rear differential, tires, alignment, and the list goes
on. Now since my car has 145,000 miles on it, I understand that at some
point it won’t be cost-efficient for me to keep it, but I like not having a car
payment and it serves its purpose without too much trouble. I politely
declined the litany of additional services and said I would talk it over with
my husband. Once the car was finished with the original service, the
service advisor informed me that she and the service manager had
discussed my vehicle and felt that I needed to purchase a new car. She
then proceeded to hand me a salesperson’s business card. I told her that
there was no need, paid my bill, and left. What struck me, though, was
“How many unassuming people do they do this to?” That manager had no
knowledge of my life circumstances, not to mention that we’re living during
a pandemic and many people are struggling.
What troubled me then—and still troubles me—is when I didn’t agree to the
recommended additional services, I was told I needed a new vehicle.
Although I am making an assumption about their motive—perhaps wanting
to sell me a new car—I was shocked and disappointed all at the same time.
As time has gone on, I’ve decided I won’t take my vehicle there for service
Since writing this, I received a phone call from the dealership headquarters
inquiring about my experience and if I had the recommended service work
completed. I shared that I did have it done, but by a new service provider. I
also shared that this new provider couldn’t imagine why the initial
dealership would have advised
me to purchase a new vehicle, as
they found my vehicle well-cared
for and in great condition.
I tell you this story because it
brings me back to the Policy
Forum discussions and how we,
as program providers, may cause
harm or upset a family dynamic
by making unintentional
Perhaps if the Policy Forum topics and
discussions make us question ourselves
and how we serve, it can lead to more
productive outcomes, with policies that
more accurately reflect the needs of
those we serve.
assumptions about the people we serve and the decisions they make.
During one of my favorite discussion groups, which occurred on the last
day, we had a well-rounded group and much-needed conversation about
how we provide services to our clients. Because people oftentimes have
been referred to our program due to receiving other services, they may not
always be excited to hear from us for a variety of reasons unknown to us.
Do they have their own arrangement that we upset when we start the
establishment process? Is extended family assisting? Is there a way to
capture and recognize the in-kind support that occurs between parents and
families? While the tribal program, for example, does have the ability to
capture this type of support in lieu of hard cash, it is an accounting
nightmare because many of our systems aren’t set up for this.
I certainly don’t have all the answers or even a few. I will say that I have
been really pleased with the ongoing conversations coming out of the
Forum regarding how we serve the program’s children and families and the
direct impact we have on their lives. Perhaps if the Policy Forum topics and
discussions make us question ourselves and how we serve, it can lead to
more productive outcomes, with policies that more accurately reflect the
needs of those we serve. I know it’s awfully daunting, and maybe a bit
naïve, but I am always hopeful that in our continuing work we will
acknowledge, learn, and grow to make the necessary changes as our
program evolves. Many changes have occurred in our community since the
inception of child support in 1975. Let’s continue to grow as a program and
All the best,
Lisa Skenandore joined Systems and Methods Inc. as the Vice President of Business
Development in January of 2016. Prior to joining SMI, Lisa led the Oneida Nation Child
Support Department as IV-D Director which became a comprehensive tribal child
support program in April of 2008. She began her career in child support when her tribe
received its start-up grant in 2005. Along with child support she has also led other
human service programming in the areas of child welfare, domestic violence, prevention
and foster care. She has served as President of the National Tribal Child Support
Association and National Association of Tribal Child Support Directors. Lisa currently
serves as NCSEA President and is on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Regional
Interstate Child Support Association. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public
Administration from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.
Print article here
A Seat at the Table – NCSEA at The
by Hannah Roots, Independent consultant, lawyer and
NCSEA Director of International Reciprocity
If the call starts at 1:00 pm in the Hague, is that a 4:00 a.m. start or a 5:00
a.m. start? And more importantly, is it too early for coffee?
For almost two decades, NCSEA representatives have answered the early
morning and late evening calls to participate in global discussions about
international child support. Accredited by the Permanent Bureau of the
Hague Conference on Private International Law as an official Non-
Governmental Organization (NGO) in the field of child support, NCSEA
played an active role in the negotiation of the Convention of 23 November
2007 on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of
Family Maintenance (Convention) and continues to participate in the followup
work undertaken by the Permanent Bureau concerning the Convention.
NCSEA representatives serve on a number of committees, continuing to
ensure that the voices of child support professionals are heard as the
international instruments are developed and reviewed.
As more than ten years have passed since the entry into force of the
Convention, a lot of post-implementation activities are currently underway,
including preparations for the first Special Commission on the Convention,
to be held in early 2022. NCSEA is participating in the groups working on
preparations for the Special Commission, including the Forms Working
Group and the Administrative Cooperation Working Group (ACWG). Our
NCSEA delegation for the Special Commission and the ACWG is led by
Kristen Donadee, Chief Deputy Director with the California Department of
Child Support Services, with NCSEA Board member Alisha Griffin and me
assisting. Alisha was a member of the NCSEA delegation during the
Convention negotiations and brings invaluable experience in international
NCSEA brings the perspective of child support workers to these meetings,
as many of the State representatives from the countries attending are from
the foreign affairs or diplomatic branches of government, and do not
necessarily have child support expertise. We provide our input on the
operational and practical implications of the Convention, based on the
experience of the people working international child support cases. For
example, in the recent ACWG discussions, we raised the need to have the
Convention Forms available in multiple languages, to reduce the cost and
delays of translation, and we highlighted the
challenges faced by caseworkers where
signatory countries have not filed a Country
Profile. Importantly, because the NCSEA
International Subcommittee includes
caseworkers from around the world, we try to
bring a global perspective to our interventions, as
the concerns of caseworkers are often similar in
NCSEA also has representation on the iSupport
Governing Body. iSupport is the electronic case
management and secure communication system
developed by the Permanent Bureau for States to manage Convention
applications. NCSEA’s representatives bring the perspective of
caseworkers with experience working with child support case management
systems. Finally, NCSEA is also represented on the Permanent Bureau’s
Expert’s Group on the Cross-Border Transfer of Funds, which is addressing
one of the most challenging areas of international child support.
Through these committees, we try to make sure that the practical day-today
concerns of the people working international child support cases are
taken into consideration. For those of us fortunate enough to participate in
the meetings, we get a ringside seat to watch international instruments
being debated and negotiated. We see first-hand that the countries have so
much in common when it comes to child support. We develop friendships
with child support professional around the world and get a small glimpse
into their lives and how they deal with child support in their countries. We
learn to cope with video calls at 3:30 a.m. and at midnight, and hopefully, in
the end, we make a difference for global families.
Hannah Roots is an independent consultant and lawyer from Victoria, British Columbia
Canada. She is an internationally recognized expert in international child support and
was the Managing Director of the British Columbia Family Maintenance Enforcement
Program for 23 years. She was seconded to the Permanent Bureau of the Hague
Conference on Private International Law in 2002-2003 and is the author of the Practical
Handbook for Caseworkers for the 2007 Child Support Convention. Hannah has served
in many roles in NCSEA including International Commissioner and her current role,
Director of International Reciprocity.
Print article here
Moving to Equity through Policy: Key Takeaways
from the 2021 NCSEA Policy Forum Connects
by Erin Frisch & Shaneen Moore
Co-chairs, NCSEA 2021 Policy Forum
Policy Form 2021 was one for the record books! With over 700
child support professionals, 30% being first-time attendees, at our
first-ever paid virtual conference on the topics of equity, diversity,
and inclusion in our program, it’s one we won’t soon forget. We
opened with the engaging and thought-provoking Dr. Nita Mosby
Tyler, Chief Catalyst at The Equity Project, who challenged us to
be upstanders, look for our “fences”, and connect to our history.
The first session set the foundation for the entire conference by
giving us common language and understanding.
We then used that foundation and heard from folks doing work in
child welfare, the courts, public health, local communities, state
and local child support programs, systems development, and
research examining how we all can take a closer look at how our
programs help and harm specific communities. Sessions were
enlightening and energizing as we learned about ways in which
we can be more inclusive, use diversity to our advantage, and
build equity into our policies and decisions.
Throughout the conference the dialog among attendees via the
chat box and the small discussion groups enriched the experience
and helped us all connect what we were learning to our work at
home. It was exciting to see how many child support
organizations are finding ways
to have the tough conversations
and make change.
The post-conference feedback
was overwhelmingly positive,
with 83% of attendees sharing
they liked the topic-focused
content. We couldn’t agree
more with these key take-aways:
“We have a long way to go to create equity, but we have begun
“Our program needs to become more engaged in re-setting the
future course of the program and what we are here to do.”
“Child support agencies are working to become more inclusive in
all aspects of the program and this is wonderful news.”
“We are all in this together”
We were honored to serve as co-chairs for the 2021 Policy
Forum. Thanks to Lisa Skenandore, NCSEA President, for her
vision and courage as well as the opportunity to serve NCSEA in
this capacity. We also want to thank the NCSEA Board for their
support of this somewhat risky endeavor. Our gratitude extends to
the many speakers and moderators as well as NCSEA staff for
their help in making the Policy Forum a success. Finally, we
salute the NCSEA volunteers who served on the NCSEA Policy
Forum Committee. With brilliance, talent, and perseverance, they
recruited speakers and moderators and ensured the continuity of
the conference theme and originality in sessions.
We look forward to a continued dialogue with all NCSEA
members on how we can continue to shape the future of child
support through moving towards equity!
Erin Frisch is the Title IV-D Director for Michigan and Director of the Michigan
Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Support (OCS)
Shaneen Moore is the Director of the Minnesota Child Support Division within the
Children and Family Services administration.
Print article here
Priorities for Improving the Child
by Diane Potts, Vice, President, Public Knowledge
NCSEA’s Idea Exchange has been a key event at the annual Leadership
Symposium conference for several years. In the pandemic world of 2020
and 2021, NCSEA went to a virtual platform to continue the free exchange
of ideas by diverse sets of participants centered around specific topics.
In February 2021, the Idea Exchange focused on the priorities for the child
support program with the goal of having a detailed list to share with staff
from the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees of
the 117 th United States Congress and the federal Office of Child Support
Enforcement (OCSE) once a new Commissioner is appointed. Several Title
IV-D State Directors and thought leaders throughout the country, as well as
OCSE staff, participated in the event.
Even before the session began, there was a robust and diverse set of ideas
exchanged for discussion. Among the ideas were:
• Expanding the impact of the child support program by eliminating the
$35 fee, focusing on getting money to families as opposed to
retaining support for cost recovery, rethinking the federal
performance measures, and adding new enforcement tools such as
mandatory lump-sum reporting.
• Addressing barriers to payment by expanding the federal financial
participation (FFP) match to include employment services and
providing an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for parents who pay
• Creating operational efficiencies through increased FFP for system
modernization, new hire reporting of independent contractors, greater
data exchange among state assistance programs, expanding
permitted uses of federal tax information by the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS), and creating a national vital records registry.
• Receiving additional support from OCSE with more hands-on
assistance and guidance in managing intergovernmental cases,
suspending penalties for declining paternity establishment
percentages during the pandemic, and creating a training hub for
state programs around best practices and lessons learned from the
Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (BICS) and
Procedural Justice Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) grants,
as well as new training on identifying and handling child support
cases involving family violence.
The Idea Exchange was held on February 10, 2021, with Jim Fleming and
Diane Potts facilitating and Kay Farley memorializing the ideas. The first
discussion centered around changing the five performance measures.
There was nearly unanimous agreement that the current measures are
long due for a critical examination of what they incentivize versus what
outcomes should be rewarded in the program today. For example, the fact
that collecting $1 in arrears on a case for the entire fiscal year currently
counts towards the
percentage may not
reflect the actual benefit
the family received
from the program that
ground on alternate
challenge. The group
generally agreed that
it would be beneficial to
recommend to OCSE
that it create a new
commission or workgroup to examine the current performance measures,
what they currently incentivize, what the program would ideally prioritize for
serving families in the future, and new or revised performance measures
that would align with those program priorities.
The second discussion centered around mandatory referrals and included
current sanctions for non-cooperation by parents receiving Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Ideas included eliminating Medicaid
referrals, better defining the “when appropriate” standard for foster care
referrals, and examining thresholds and the “cliff” effect of child support
payments and eligibility-based assistance.
Modernization of child support systems continues to be a significant
concern. In addition to increased FFP for system replacements, the group
discussed having a national vital records registry available to states, a
more robust sharing of data, and modernizing the federal systems that
interface with the child support systems.
The Idea Exchange dialogue then turned to the fundamentals of the child
support program—the purpose it has in our society and how the program
can help more families. There was some discussion on the anti-poverty
aspect of our program and what data is needed to inform additional
services and outreach
that would improve
outcomes for fragile
The group looked
critically at how the
program is helping
parents who are
struggling to fulfill their
programs, whether the
The group looked critically at how the program
is helping parents who are struggling to fulfill
their support obligations, including the
effectiveness of voluntary versus mandatory
employment programs, whether the current
support payment performance measure
provides enough incentive for programs to
work with parents on employment-related
issues, and the need for better technology to
reach and relate to Generations Y and Z and
their reliance on smart phone technology and
real time interactions
current support payment performance measure provides enough incentive
for programs to work with parents on employment-related issues, and the
need for better technology to reach and relate to Generations Y and Z and
their reliance on smart phone technology and real time interactions.
Throughout the conversation was a recognition that many, if not most,
parents paying support have an established distrust for the program largely
created by the enforcement part of our program.
One of the new topics was on Senator Mitt Romney’s proposed Family
Security Act, which would create a universal child allowance ($350 per
month for newborns to 5-year-olds and $250 per month per child for
children ages 6 to 17, with income and total children limits). The plan would
be cost neutral as it would replace other child-related benefits and tax
breaks including the Child Tax Credit, part of the EITC, TANF, and state
and local tax deductions.
The Idea Exchange group expressed concern that the universal child
allowance may put the child support program in the role of recouping funds
when the program is seeking to move away from that recoupment
emphasis. One participant opined that it would be a disservice to parents
who pay support, although another commented that the concept has
functioned as a successful anti-poverty measure in some foreign countries.
There were two federal tax information issues. First, members of the group
expressed frustration that audits on IRS information are not uniform,
thereby leading to uneven enforcement of the rules. Second, the IRS
policies on permissive use and disclosure of federal tax information
continue to be too restrictive and hinder effective child support activities.
On intergovernmental issues, the group discussed the benefit of a greater
understanding by OCSE of how states currently process interstate cases.
Another idea was for OCSE to issue guidance on how agencies should
work with each other to effectuate the collection of support across state
The idea for a universal child support
application came from the Public Relations
Committee—a joint committee comprised of
members of NCSEA, OCSE, and the
National Council of Child Support Directors.
The Idea Exchange participants had
concerns about this priority due to the
unique needs of each state, the goal to
keep application forms as short as possible, and possible impact to state
The group expressed support for the Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act
(S. 3154), which would give tribal governments equal and direct access to
the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program and other resources to locate
parents. The Act also provides needed clarification on tax refund
information access by private vendors.
The two final discussion topics were on parenting time and adoption of a
more holistic approach to families. The group discussed the current
disparity between married couples who regularly adjudicate custody and
parenting time as part of divorce proceedings, versus unmarried couples in
the child support program. One way to address the disparity would be to
expand FFP to allow programs to incorporate uncontested parenting time
orders into child support orders.
The Idea Exchange conversation concluded with the recognition that the
child support program is one of the few programs that serves both parents.
This provides a unique opportunity to take a two-generation, anti-poverty
approach by developing programs that serve young parents with young
children. Connecting parents who pay support with education, employment,
training, mentorship programs, and parenting support could provide the
positive, family-based start needed to break multi-generational poverty.
The NCSEA Policy and Government Relations Committee will consider all
of these ideas for priorities in 2021 and 2022. The goal is to focus NCSEA’s
advocacy efforts on what will have the biggest impact on improving the
program and shaping the future of child support.
Many thanks to the following Idea Exchange participants: Margot Bean,
Ryan Bradley, Jennifer Bradshaw, Paula Burns, Roberta Coons, Larry
Desbien, Ashley Dexter, Erin Frisch, Karen Hebert, Sarah Hurst, Detra
Kingfisher, Ethan McKinney, Phyllis Nance, Ann Marie Oldani, Patrick
Quinn, Frances Pardus-Abbadessa, Carla Smith, Elaine Sorenson, Brad
Thiel, Rob Velcoff, and Elise Toplis.
Diane Potts is the Vice President of Child Support and Workforce Services at Public
Knowledge®, a national consulting firm that recently merged with the Center for the
Support of Families (CSF), a Division of SLI Government Solutions. Diane joined CSF in
2015, after serving for 6 years as Illinois Deputy Attorney General for Child Support.
Diane is a Past-President of NCSEA and its past Secretary, and an Honorary Lifetime
Member. She served on NCSEA’s Board of Directors from 2013-2019, as co-chair of
the Policy Forum in 2015, 2016, and 2019, and currently is the co-chair for the Policy
and Government Relations Committee. In 2016, Diane was appointed as an official
observer to the Uniform Law Commission’s amendment of the Uniform Parentage Act
(UPA) and currently sits on the UPA’s Enactment Committee. Diane received her law
degree from Washington University Law School and her undergraduate degree from
University of Illinois.
Print article here
Howard Baldwin Remembered
by former Texas IV-D Directors Cynthia
Bryant and Alicia Key
The world of child support lost a leader and a friend when Howard Baldwin
died on March 4, 2021. Howard’s work in child support dates from almost
the beginning of the IV-D program, when he was a staff attorney in what
was then the Texas Department of Public Welfare. He continued to work in
the Texas program for over 20 years, off and on, in positions of increasing
responsibility, including as the IV-D Director and Deputy Attorney General
for Child Support from 1999-2001. He also served as First Assistant
Attorney General for the state of Texas, before spending several years in
the private sector serving government child support programs across the
country. The final years of his career were spent back in the child support
program that he loved so much, as Special Advisor to the Texas IV-D
Many may not know that, outside
His tenure as President came at a child support, Howard had a
crucial point in NCSEA’s finances, and career of achievement in private
Howard guided NCSEA through law practice, as an Associate
bankruptcy. NCSEA emerged from Judge, as an administrator and
bankruptcy as a stronger organization executive in the Texas child
thanks to Howard’s leadership as protection agency, and as an
advocate for child support and
child protection improvement in
the Texas Legislature. Howard
was consistently driven by his passion for helping children. More than two
decades ago he said, “It gets into your blood, because it makes
a difference in people's lives.”
A devoted supporter of NCSEA, Howard volunteered for many years as a
speaker at NCSEA conferences and as a member of important committees
including Policy & Governmental Relations. He not only served on
NCSEA’s Board of Directors beginning in 1999, but as its President from
2008 to 2010. His tenure as President came at a crucial point in NCSEA’s
finances, and Howard guided NCSEA through bankruptcy. NCSEA
emerged from bankruptcy as a stronger organization thanks to Howard’s
leadership as President. Beyond NCSEA, Howard volunteered his
expertise and energy to WICSEC and also served on its Board and as its
President. Along the way, Howard developed close friendships with child
support professionals everywhere. He was an engaging presence at
conferences, and he looked forward to those occasions to catch up with
those he knew and to make new friends. And he always took the
opportunity to support and mentor
his colleagues. In the words of
David Stillman, former Washington
IV-D Director and NCSEA past
president, “Howard made such a
difference in the trajectory of our
work – and perhaps he made the
It was truly striking to see the number of
people, including current and former IV-D
Directors around the country, who
considered him a mentor or mentioned
that he had helped them in their careers.
greatest difference not by solely working to help shape the systems and
structures in which we work; but instead through the relationships that he
built and the colleagues that he supported and mentored – whose work
A native Texan, Howard loved his hometown of San Antonio, where he
graduated from high school and from St. Mary’s Law School and where he
began his career in child support. In the Texas IV-D program, Howard is
remembered for two significant things. First, his tenure at IV-D director laid
the foundation for the continuing success of the Texas program. He
became IV-D director in 1998, at a time when the program was under
Legislative investigation for poor customer service and staff unrest. At the
same time he addressed those challenges, Howard led the Texas agency
in implementing the PRWORA reforms. In little more than three years as
IV-D director, the changes that Howard put into operation turned the Texas
child support program around and put it on a path to strength that continues
today. It also earned him the devotion of agency staff across the State.
Indeed, many current and former staff of the Texas agency look on Howard
as a personal mentor. We both certainly owe much in our own careers to
The news of Howard’s passing was met with great sadness from members
of the child support community in Texas and nationwide. He was described
by his friends and former colleagues as “smart, committed, and a perfect
gentleman; kindhearted and helpful; a wonderful and generous colleague; a
friend to everyone; funny and kind; honorable and generous.” It was truly
striking to see the number of people, including current and former IV-D
Directors around the country, who considered him a mentor or mentioned
that he had helped them in their careers.
Senator John Cornyn, who as former Texas Attorney General appointed
Howard as IV-D Director, said this about Howard in a special tribute on the
United States Senate Floor on March 11, 2021 (filter by Speaker: John
“Howard was brilliant, effective, humorous, and exceedingly humble; a
rare combination made even more striking because of his kindness.
Howard did everything in his power to help parents support their children,
both financially and emotionally, to encourage positive outcomes. There's
no way to quantify the amount of good Howard did throughout his career
and throughout his life, but I can say without a doubt, he changed lives –
many, many lives.”
Most important to Howard was his family. He was devoted to his wife Rita
and their sons James and Eric Robert. He talked about them constantly,
and if you knew Howard, you heard about Rita and his boys. His family has
asked that those who wish may donate to the Alzheimer’s Association
(www.alz.org) in Howard’s memory.
Print article here
PEP in a Pandemic Environment
by John Hurst, IV-D Director,
Georgia Division of Child Support Services
In 1998, Congress enacted the Child Support
Performance and Incentive Act (CSPIA) which restructured the child
support incentive system. Moving away from a cost-effectiveness
measurement, CSPIA established the performance-based incentive
measures for the areas of paternity establishment, support order
establishment, current support collections, arrears collections, and a
revised cost-effectiveness measurement. The purpose of the Act was to
line up the incentive system with the child support program’s goals of
responsible parenting, self-sufficiency and the well-being of children.
In the 20+ years since the implementation of CSPIA incentive measures,
child support programs have performed well overall, especially in the area
of paternity establishment. From 2002 to 2016, the median paternity
establishment percentage (PEP) increased from 86% to 97%. This
impressive performance has continued… until the COVID-19 pandemic hit
the U.S. in 2020.
The onset of the pandemic had a tremendous negative impact on the ability
of child support programs to establish paternity for a variety of reasons.
Courts were closed, and the ability to move cases through a legal process
stopped. Child support offices transitioned from in-person to virtual
meetings with customers, which prevented the ability to perform genetic
testing sample draws. Hospitals restricted visitors, which significantly
reduced the number of paternity acknowledgements for children born to
unwed parents. Some hospitals stopped processing paternity
As the pandemic has continued for a full year now, access to courts, inperson
customer appointments, and hospital access has begun to resume
slowly in some areas. However, the volume of these activities remains
below levels prior to the pandemic.
Before looking at the pandemic impact on PEP rates for child support
programs, a reminder of penalty performance measures and levels set forth
in 45 CFR § 305.40 is important.
§ 305.40 Penalty performance measures and levels.
(a) There are three performance measures for which States must achieve
certain levels of performance in order to avoid being penalized for poor
performance. These measures are the paternity establishment, support
order establishment, and current collections measures set forth in §
305.2 of this part. The levels the State must meet are:
(1) The paternity establishment percentage which is required under
section 452(g) of the Act for penalty purposes. States have the option of
using either the IV-D paternity establishment percentage or the statewide
paternity establishment percentage defined in § 305.2 of this part. Table
4 shows the level of performance at which a State will be subject to a
penalty under the paternity establishment measure.
TABLE 4 - STATUTORY PENALTY PERFORMANCE STANDARDS FOR
Increase required over
previous year's PEP
Penalty FOR FIRST FAILURE if
increase not met
2% 1-2% TANF Funds.
3% 1-2% TANF Funds.
4% 1-2% TANF Funds.
5% 1-2% TANF Funds.
6% 1-2% TANF Funds.
Due to the pandemic restrictions in processing legal cases and limited inperson
interactions, many states fell short of the 90% PEP requirement for
the first time in many years in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2020. This
requires those states to improve their PEP by at least 2% in FFY 2021 or
face a penalty of 1%-2% of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF) Block Grant for their state. This equates to several million-dollar
penalties in state funds for most states.
Penalizing the state’s TANF funds while the pandemic is ongoing will place
an undue burden on a program that assists eligible families who have been
most in need during the pandemic.
Child support programs in this potential penalty situation are concerned
and have implemented new procedures to counter the effects of the
pandemic on their PEP. Some of these new procedures include:
• Conducting additional outreach efforts in partnership with vital records
agencies to educate parents on the Paternity Acknowledgment process
• Implementing new paternity testing options for child support customers
o Testing in office parking lots (including on nights and weekends)
o Arranging appointment-only testing due to restricted in-office
o Serving as witness for customer self-swab
• Expanding use of the administrative paternity order process to establish
paternity orders in administrative proceedings, rather than judicial
• Developing video messaging and public service announcements to
educate parents on the paternity acknowledgment process and the
• Conducting outreach with hospitals and hospital associations to promote
the processing of paternity acknowledgments
While these efforts have helped
child support programs to establish
paternity, the effects of the ongoing
pandemic environment have
continued to restrict the numbers
needed to meet the required PEP
improvement to avoid penalty.
Court access is still limited in many areas, and backlogs exist in scheduling
cases. Child support offices continue to be restricted in their ability to meet
with customers in-person. Many customers are reluctant to participate in
voluntary in-person processes. States are faced with the reality that,
despite all their efforts, the ongoing pandemic will not allow them to move
enough cases through restricted legal processes or obtain enough
voluntary acknowledgments to prevent penalty.
In addition to making every effort on their own to meet the PEP
requirements, many states have turned to the Federal Office of Child
Support Enforcement (OCSE), national child support organizations and
congressional representatives for assistance. The National Child Support
Enforcement Association (NCSEA) has recommended repeal of the PEP
penalty for many years due to contradictory standards that can both reward
and penalize a state for the same level of performance. In April 2005,
NCSEA adopted the “Resolution on
Paternity Performance Revisions” to
address these standards and make
recommendations on adjusting the
PEP requirement. NCSEA re-ratified
the resolution in August 2018.
In April 2020, NCSEA adopted the
“Resolution for Necessary Child
Support Legislation Due to COVID-19 Program Impacts.” This resolution
outlined the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on child support programs
in the areas of program flexibility and funding, employment programs and
technology. The resolution concluded by urging Congress to enact
temporary relief legislation through December 31, 2021, to address
concerns in these areas. Included in the request was this measure
regarding flexibility to: “Prohibit imposition of penalties or other adverse
actions for failure to meet performance mandates set forth in part D of the
Act including penalties for failure to achieve a paternity establishment
percentage of less than 90 percent.”
The National Council of Child Support Directors (NCCSD) has also noted
concerns with the PEP penalty resulting from effects of the pandemic on
the ability of child support programs to meet the requirements in this
environment. In July 2020, NCCSD issued the “Impact of the COVID-19
Pandemic on Delivery of Child Support Services” to provide information
and items for consideration regarding the impact. The statement pointed
out that, “states are also facing a potential increase in cost in the form of a
penalty under federal law for failing to achieve a paternity establishment
percentage of at least 90 percent, which is a high threshold considering
that courts have been closed or had limited access for more than three
months in many states and in-hospital paternity acknowledgement
processes have been interrupted.” Nine months later, as the pandemic
continues, the impact is sustained.
The federal law that establishes the paternity establishment penalty is 42
USC 652 (g)(3), which provides, “the Secretary may modify the
requirements of this subsection to take into account such additional
variables as the Secretary identifies (including the percentage of children in
a State who are born out of wedlock or for whom support has not been
established) that affect the ability of a State to meet the requirements of
this subsection.” Last summer, NCCSD shared with OCSE that the impact
of the pandemic may provide the additional variables that warrant a
temporary reduction in the 90 percent PEP penalty requirement.
Child support programs have historically adjusted and adapted to changing
and challenging environments to continue to meet performance standards
and serve the families in need of program services well. The onset of the
COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 required programs to pivot and change
in major ways. They have done so and found new ways to meet the needs
of families. It is concerning that programs that have historically performed
above the PEP threshold, now are facing potential penalties resulting from
impacts to their ability to establish paternities that are beyond their control.
Those most adversely affected by TANF Block Grant penalties would be
the families most in need of the services the funds support.
John Hurst is the Asst. Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Dept. of Human Services. He
has more than 28 years in the child support program, serving in various roles. John was
appointed to his current position and in this role, he serves as the IV-D Director of the
Georgia DCSS program. John earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in
Management from Georgia State University.
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NCSEA Legislative Update:
Congress Adopts Massive COVID
Response Package, Pivots to Longer
by Tom Joseph, NCSEA Advocate
It is early April in Washington D.C., with the cherry blossoms in full bloom
and Congress taking a much-needed spring break after approving the
American Rescue Plan Act—a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package
touching nearly all sectors of the U.S., including financial supports for
Economic Impact Payments (EIP) and expansions of both the Child Tax
Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will provide
significant income boosts to millions of families. As of early April, the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had deposited 144 million EIP payments
totaling $363 billion into individuals’ bank accounts and is now mailing 20
million paper checks and debit cards. As with the second round of stimulus
payments, the $1,400 per individual EIPs are not subject to offset for pastdue
child support, consistent with NCSEA’s successful advocacy last year
to support both parents—including those who owe support—until there are
enough employment opportunities to be financially self-sufficient without a
While the EIP process has been relatively smooth, the IRS has signaled
that the July 1 roll out of the one-year boost to the CTC may be bumpy.
Short-staffed and still facing a processing backlog of 24 million returns from
last year, the IRS must develop a web portal to enable individuals to make
changes to income, marital status, and number of children. Initially
anticipated to make monthly payments of $300 per child under the age of
six and $250 for children ages 6-17, a provision in the bill changed the
frequency to “periodic” through December 2021, with a final six-month
payment to be made when individuals file their 2021 income taxes. Since it
is a refundable credit, the CTC is not used in calculating an individual’s
Under the Rescue Plan, Congress also increased and extended the EITC,
consistent with NCSEA’s long-supported policy to assist childless adults
and lower the EITC eligibility age from 25 to 19. The provision will provide
income support to over 17 million people in low-wage jobs. Before these
expansions, the CTC and EITC together lifted 5.5 million children above the
poverty line. The Rescue Plan’s
provisions are estimated to lift
another 4.1 million children out of
Given Congress’s nearly sole
focus on COVID relief during the
first quarter of 2021, there has
been little other legislative activity.
Congress will now pivot to other
longer-term initiatives. Chiefly
among them is a recent proposal
by President Biden to invest $2.5 trillion for a broad range of infrastructure
projects. Later this spring, his Administration will release a proposed fiscal
year 2022 federal budget containing spending and policy priorities for
Congress to consider over the coming months. The President has also
indicated that he will propose another series of investments later this spring
to expand health insurance coverage, continue the CTC expansion,
address paid family and medical leave, and increase the availability of child
Congress may consider improvements to the child support program later in
the year. Given the recent tendency of Congress to combine a number of
bills into a bigger package, those initiatives would likely be attached to a bill
reauthorizing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
program, a fatherhood initiative, child welfare improvements, or a
combination of those issues.
Likely candidates for inclusion in such a measure include NCSEAsupported
bills that have been re-introduced, including the Tribal Child
Support Enforcement Act (S. 534) and the Providing Adequate Resources
to Enhance Needed Time with Sons and Daughters Act (PARENTS Act (S.
503). Long supported by NCSEA and sponsored by Senator John Thune
(R-SD) with co-sponsor Ron Wyden (D-OR), S. 534 would give tribes equal
and direct access to the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program and other
resources to locate parents while ensuring that all IRS confidentiality
safeguards are met. For its part, the PARENTS Act was adopted by the
Senate last year by unanimous consent. Introduced by Senators John
Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), the
legislation would streamline a process to allow states to use existing child
support performance incentive funds to establish voluntary parenting time
arrangements without requesting a waiver from the federal Office of Child
Tom Joseph has represented public sector entities in Washington, D.C. since the early
1980’s, and has served as NCSEA’s advocate since 2009. For 16 years he lobbied
Congress and the administration on behalf of the National Association of Counties
(NACo), focusing on health and human services issues. He also served as NACo’s
deputy director of its 11-member lobbying department, where he helped manage the
organization’s lobbying efforts and oversaw NACo’s federal policy development
In 1997, Tom left NACo to help establish a Washington, DC office for Los Angeles
County where he served full-time as the County’s deputy legislative director. In that
capacity, he coordinated and supplemented the County’s lobbying efforts on a wide
range of issues, including criminal justice, homeland security, and human services.
Thirteen years ago, Tom joined Waterman & Associates which has since rebranded as
Paragon Government Relations. Serving as managing partner, Tom works on behalf of
NCSEA, county governments and other public sector associations.
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CORPORATE SHOUT-OUTS…..At the close of the NCSEA Policy Forum of 2020, it is
hard to imagine that anyone walked away thinking that it might be the last time we would
have an opportunity to be together in person for over a year. And while we are thankful
that technology has allowed us to stay connected from a distance, there is nothing that
can replace that ability to connect face-to-face. We miss seeing you in person and look
forward to Leadership Symposium 2021 in Austin, TX when we may do so again safely.
Until that time brings us together, for this issue, we invited our Corporate Partners and
Members to provide a message to our child support community members.
Here are their “shout-outs”:
2020 was tough, but our child
support community is tougher!
Thanks for your continued
dedication to serving children
and families. We are counting
down the days until we can all
collaborate in the same room
– but until then, there’s always
Child support community –
you are AMAZING. Our
families are getting the
support they need due to
your hard work and
dedication. Stay healthy and
safe. – Young Williams
As we look ahead to brighter
days, we recognize the
unwavering dedication of the
entire child support community
this past year. We are prouder
than ever to support you in this
critical space, and we applaud
your steadfast commitment to
shaping the future of child
support, especially under these
extraordinary circumstances. -
The SMI Family
“U.S. Bank ReliaCard®
proudly supports our Child
Support Agency partners.
We look forward to seeing
you all soon!” – U.S. Bank
Empowering the Movement for Change Through
the Work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
by Shaneen Moore, Minnesota Child Support Services Division
Director & Trish Skophammer, Ramsey County Child Support
Services Division Director
One of the few positives things about interacting during the COVID-19
pandemic is the opportunity to engage in meaningful ways with colleagues
from across the country without having to travel. NCSEA held its first virtual
policy themed forum, entitled, “Moving Towards Equity Through Policy”.
This interactive exchange was a welcome discussion with a palpable sense
of excitement about the work that is being done across the nation in child
support agencies to address diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
DEI work has three interconnected components. The components are
questions, or challenges perhaps.
o How can leaders develop the cultural competence of staff in
o How does systemic racism impact the people who receive child
o What changes to policy and practice are needed to reduce the impact
of systemic racism in the child support system?
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis caught the attention of the
entire world. It certainly caught the attention of leaders in the child support
community in Minnesota. It required a focus on the safety and well-being of
staff in the aftermath and the civil unrest. It also required an
acknowledgement of the trauma experienced by the Black community. This
was happening while our country was awakening to the realities of the
pandemic and learning how the pandemic more severely impacts
communities of color. The phrase “racial reckoning” was heard often with a
strong call to action. One answer to that call was for leaders to engage in
DEI initiatives in their organizations. Another answer to the call for action
was for NCSEA to take the lead in its education and advocacy efforts
related to DEI.
Systemic racism has an impact on the people who are served by the child
support program. People of color only make up 15% of the general
population of Minnesota. However, people of color make up 29% of the
Minnesota child support program statewide,
and 54% of the program in Hennepin
A concentration of Black non-custodial
parents reside in urban areas where
redlining and racial covenants prevented
people from building wealth and kept
neighborhoods from thriving. Just recently,
the University of Minnesota’s Mapping Prejudice Project revealed their
most recent findings regarding a similar racial covenant project for Ramsey
County with very similar results as determined previously in Hennepin
The uneven outcomes show up in the use of enforcement remedies. In
Ramsey County, 11% of the population is Black, but over 40% of child
support case participants are Black. Over 55% of non-custodial parents
with a driver’s license suspended for non-payment of child support are
The issues behind these numbers are complex and include barriers to
employment such as lack of education and job skills, generational poverty,
and mass incarceration. These are systemic problems that highlight a need
to engage the community in new ways and provide services that help rather
than exacerbate the underlying issues. If the child support community is to
engage in the transformational change that is needed to address these
issues, it must build cultural competence and awareness in its
organizations, its leadership, and actively change its policies.
The 2021 NCSEA Policy Forum shared a wealth of information and
knowledge. Together, we worked to inform one another on how “Moving
Towards Equity Through Policy” is a critical element of our work in child
support. We highly encourage those who were unable to attend this year’s
forum to purchase the conference at www.ncsea.org, and watch the
sessions with your staff and have conversations on things you can do to
implement equitable policy changes within your organization.
For example, Ramsey County Child Support Services holds regular “Critical
Conversations.” These virtual meetings are optional for all staff and started
as a response to the murder of George Floyd. Initial concerns about the
divisiveness seen across the country, in the community, and in the
workplace highlighted a need to
bring people together.
Conversations are based on a
shared reading or video that is sent
in advance to staff, along with
discussion questions to consider.
Topics include systemic racism,
microaggressions, intent versus
impact, unconscious bias, white
privilege, and white saviorism.
It is important to have shared agreements for staff who participate in
discussions. The agreements may include:
• Respect for different perspectives
• Listen to learn
• Engage in dialogue, not debate
• Speak from your own experience
• Be aware of impact vs. intention
• Have compassionate curiosity
• Be willing to experience discomfort
• Stay engaged
• Understand that events and conversations may trigger traumatic
responses for people of color
Participants in past Idea Exchanges talked about holding mandatory
learning opportunities, voluntary participation, or a combination of both. The
benefits to mandatory learning is that everyone participates and the
equirements highlights that DEI is important, valued work. The benefit to
voluntary participation is that it allows deeper engagement from people who
are interested in their own development.
Other ideas include offering peer support groups for people of color,
including DEI goals in performance reviews, updating respectful workplace
policies, and hiring and promoting to add depth of diversity to the
organization and to the leadership team.
Recognizing that DEI work goes beyond staff development, Ramsey
County is leading a collaborative process with community partners to
review child support practices through a race equity lens and advocate for
changes to practice, policy, and law to reduce the impact of racial
disparities on the families we serve. Ramsey County will continue working
with the fatherhood and employment services programs to provide services
to parents who pay child support to help remove barriers to employment
To address disparities in driver’s license suspension, Ramsey County is in
the midst of a project to review cases where driver’s licenses are
suspended, but the enforcement remedy may not be coercive in terms of
getting a non-custodial parent to pay. If the enforcement remedy is not
helping to coerce payments, the
“The end result of the project will be to
develop policy and practices based in
equitable policies that better serves the
needs of families while improving
remedy becomes a barrier to
driving legally and obtaining or
Ramsey County is also
partnering with the Minnesota
state child support office to
study the effectiveness of the driver’s license enforcement remedy and how
it impacts communities of color.
The Minnesota state office was awarded one of the Procedural Justice-
Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) Peer Learning Opportunities in
2020. The focus of the state project will be to review and revise driver’s
license suspension policies and practices and to develop new materials
and strategies for parents with suspended driver’s licenses. The goal is to
enhance the suspension process so that it is fairer to paying parents and
more effective in collecting child support payments from both the short and
long term. An equity lens will be used to work on policy and procedural
changes in collaboration with six to nine pilot counties from each region of
the state (northern, southern, and metro). Participating county staff
alongside state staff will be trained on procedural justice principles, take the
Intercultural Competence Inventory or IDI to help build the cultural
competency and awareness of each individual on the team, along with
participating in implicit bias training focused specifically on the child support
program and how bias presents itself. The end result of the project will be
to develop policy and practices based in equitable policies that better
serves the needs of families while improving collections.
There are several additional equity projects happening at the state level
including: a newly formed Racial Equity Workgroup with our child support
advisory board in collaboration with our county partners, ongoing review of
procedures and policies in taking a closer look at the modification process
from an equity vantage point, completion of a recent federal grant
application for Cohort 2 of the “Charting a Course for Economic Mobility
and Responsible Parenting”, with the focus of developing a cumulative
child support curriculum solely
for the Indigenous community.
The focus of the project is in
working with Native American
community partners to develop
a culturally adapted parenting
curriculum drawing upon
Engaging staff in DEI work is critical for
all leaders in the child support
community. Policy development should
be reviewed from an equity lens.
traditional Native parenting practices in order to serve youth and young
adults age 16 to 25. At the state office, the work of the divisional equity
team continues to provide education and training opportunities for staff,
development of data and policy best practices from a racial equity view,
and ongoing outreach, communication and initiatives. As state director, I
hold a monthly space for anti-racism conversations on various topics to
help encourage ongoing learning and understanding within the state office.
Subject matter experts are often brought in to present and hold
conversation with our entire staff.
NCSEA Connects has created a DEI group. The group is exchanging
training resources and articles online, and discussions are happening about
how to make the group more impactful. The Policy and Government
Relations Committee has established a subcommittee of Emerging Issues
and leading Practices to make recommendations to the NCSEA Board
about DEI efforts.
Where do child support leaders go from here? Engaging staff in DEI work is
critical for all leaders in the child support community. Policy development
should be reviewed from an equity lens. The people who received child
support services should be included in discussions about transforming the
child support program to meet the needs of all families. All this work is
necessary, and is best done collaboratively, bringing people together for
common understanding and the sharing of ideas.
Lastly, here in Minneapolis, with the trial of Derek Chauvin underway, the
reliving of the murder of George Floyd weighs heavy on the hearts and
minds of every citizen. However, our personal hope for everyone is that this
newfound commitment to racial equity and justice in Minnesota will live
beyond the moments of today and create a brighter future for us all—all
over the world! Keep those of us living in Minnesota in your thoughts as we
move through the difficult days ahead.
Shaneen Moore is the Director of the Child Support Division within the Children Family
Services administration of the Department of Human Services and was appointed in this
role in March 2018. Her career interest in the area of children and family services began
many years ago as she has always been interested in the needs of children and their
families. The importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion is a critical element in moving
the work of the child support program forward. Shaneen is an equity champion, is
leading efforts to move this work forward, and making it a priority in Minnesota’s
program. Leadership is a very key element in providing strategic direction to all levels
within an organization. As a committed leader to the public sector, in the fall of 2017,
Shaneen began working on her doctorate in Management and Public Service at
Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. She has earned a master’s in Business
Administration from Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL, and a Bachelor of Business
in Business Administration also from Western Illinois University.
Dr. Trish Skophammer is currently serving as the Director of the Child Support
Services Division in the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office located in St. Paul,
Minnesota. She has 23 years of experience in child support. She has been involved in
NCSEA for many years, serving on Leadership Symposium and Policy Forum planning
committees, the Emerging Issues and Leading Practices subcommittee, and as former
Director on the NCSEA Board. In addition to her expertise in child support policy and
practice, Trish’s expertise includes leadership topics such as performance
management; strategic planning; and diversity, equity and inclusion. Trish has a
master’s degree from Bethel University in Organizational Leadership and a doctorate
degree in Public Administration from Hamline University.
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Pass-Through Payments to Families:
Options Available to States
by Elizabeth Morgan, Management Consultant,
Over the life of the child support program, the assignment, distribution, and
disbursement of child support have changed dramatically. At the beginning
of the program, the primary focus was directed towards cost-recovery for
the government in current and former assistance cases. Over time, more
“family-first” options began to evolve, either through federal mandates or at
While there are also “family-first” options available to states with respect to
the distribution of support in former assistance cases, this article will focus
on the options available to states in the disbursement of support to current
and former assistance families or, more specifically, the pass-through of
assigned collections to the family. A “pass-through” is an assigned support
collection that the state elects to pay to the family rather than retain to
reimburse the state for assistance paid.
Under current law, a state may pass through collections of current support
and arrears in both current assistance and former assistance cases, with
some restrictions that apply to current assistance cases, and to the
required federal share the state must pay to the federal government. There
is no current federal requirement to pass through collections to the family,
though historically that was not always the case.
Pass-Through Payments under the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984
In 1984, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act (DEFRA) which
amended the Social Security Act to require states to pass through to the
family the first $50 collected for current support while the family received
public assistance (then called Aid to Families with Dependent Children or
AFDC). The intention behind mandating this pass through of support was to
incentivize custodial families to contact the child support agency to provide
updated information on the parent paying support if the family did not
receive a $50 pass-through.
This federal mandate, which took effect October 1, 1984, included the
requirement that states disregard the amount of the pass-through in
determining the need and the amount of assistance paid to the family. If the
state disregarded the pass-through, the state was not required to send to
the federal government the federal share of the pass-through. The $50
pass-through was also known as the “$50 disregard” for this reason.
Only current assistance cases received pass-through payments, and these
payments could be derived only from collections applied to current support,
not arrears; pass-throughs also were not paid
from collections applied to assigned arrearages
in former assistance cases.
Incentives were also distributed to states based
on the amounts passed through to the family.
(Prior to DEFRA, incentives were paid based
only on retained collections.)
Pass-Through Payments and the Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
In 1996, Congress passed welfare reform legislation in the form of the
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act
(PRWORA). Under PRWORA, the AFDC program was discontinued and a
new public assistance program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF), was established.
In addition to establishing the new TANF block grant program, PRWORA
also placed numerous new child support program requirements on the
states, which included new assignment and distribution provisions. Under
PRWORA, states were no longer required to pass through the first $50 of
current support collections to families on public assistance. States could
elect to pass through collections as long as the state paid to the federal
government the federal share of these collections, even if they were
disbursed to the family. Some states opted to continue the $50 passthrough
while others discontinued passing through any amount to the
family due to the lack of federal financial participation.
Pass-Through Payments and the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
In 2005, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) which
included a number of new child support assignment, distribution, and passthrough
provisions. To move the child support program to a more “familyfriendly”
paradigm, the DRA requires that families assign to the state only
child support that accrues while the family receives TANF assistance. The
DRA distribution of support also favored a family-first hierarchy and, with
less support assigned to the state, more collections could flow to the family.
The DRA also provided new flexibility to states to pass through assigned
support to the family. Under section 457(a)(6) of the Social Security Act,
states are authorized to pass through assigned support collections in
current assistance cases, with a limited amount of federal financial
participation. In former assistance cases, states may pass through
unlimited assigned support collections with full federal financial
In current assistance cases, there are limits to the amount of federal
financial participation: the federal government will participate in the cost of
the pass-through only if the pass-through is no more than $100 per month
for families with one child, or no more than $200 for families with two or
more children. These $100/$200 limits are also known as the “excepted
portion.” The excepted portion must be disregarded in determining the
amount and type of assistance provided to the family.
Pass-Through Features and Limitations under DRA
Amount limitation? Yes 2 No 3
Federal government will
share in the cost?
Yes, if disregarded,
and only its share
of the “excepted
42 U.S.C. § 657(a)(6).
42 U.S.C. § 657(a)(6)(B)(ii)
42 U.S.C. § 657(a)(6)(A)
42 U.S.C. § 657(a)(6)(B)(i)
While the federal government’s financial participation in pass-through
payments is limited in current assistance cases, states may still opt to
pass-through more than the excepted portion, or all assigned support
collections – as long as the state pays to the federal government the
federal share of those collections that exceed the “excepted portion.”
The Current State of Pass-Through Payments
In May 2020, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
published an article that details which states 5 have implemented a passthrough
policy in current assistance cases and the amounts of each state’s
pass-through. 6 In all, nine states continue to pass through up to $50 per
month, while six states pass through up to the excepted portion. Two states
pass through all assigned support collections in current assistance cases,
and 11 states pass through some other portion less than $200 per month,
while 26 states currently do not pass through any amount.
State Pass-Through Policy Selections
While pass-through payments are disbursed by more than half of the
states, the dollar amount of pass-through payments disbursed has
decreased by 33 percent since 2011. This decrease is most likely
The term “states” includes the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin
Child Support Pass-Through and Disregard Policies for Public Assistance Recipients,
National Conference of State Legislatures, May 29, 2020.
attributable to the corresponding 40 percent decrease in the TANF
caseload during the same period.
Pass-Through Payments and TANF Caseloads, FY2011 – FY2019 7
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Other Options in Current Law to Increase the Amount of Child Support for
Under section 457(b) of the Social Security Act, states have the option to
discontinue certain assignments of support. For assignments executed
prior to PRWORA, states may discontinue these assignments and may
treat any collections of these arrearages as if they were never assigned. 8
This provision allows a state to discontinue the assignment of both preassistance
and during-assistance arrearages for older AFDC cases, and to
disburse to the family any collections that would have otherwise been
retained by the state. Because these amounts should be treated as if they
were never assigned, the state would not pay to the federal government
what would have been the federal share of collections applied to these
Similarly, states also have the option to discontinue the assignment of preassistance
arrearages under PRWORA assignments. 9 These discontinued
assignments would be treated in the same way—that is, the state would not
pay to the federal government the federal share of collections applied to
Derived from OCSE FY 2014 Annual Report to Congress, tables 1 and 2, and OCSE
FY 2019 Preliminary Data Report, table P-1 and P-2.
42 U.S.C. § 657(b)(1)(B).
42 U.S.C. § 657(b)(2)(B).
It is important to note that under current law, states may not discontinue the
assignments of during-assistance arrearages for assignments executed
October 1997 and later. While those assignments must remain in place,
states still have the option to disburse to the family any collections applied
to these arrearages in former assistance cases. States will not be required
to pay to the federal government the federal share of these collections.
Pass-Through Payments and Future Federal Legislation
Recently, legislation was introduced during the 116 th Congress that would
make significant changes to child support assignments and pass-through
payments. The Strengthening Families for Success Act (H.R. 8704 and S.
4844) was introduced in the House and Senate in October 2020. This
legislation would amend section 457(a)(6)(B) of the Social Security Act to
allow states to pass through any amount of assigned support to current
assistance families with full federal financial participation as long as the
state disregards the amount of current support passed through for the
purposes of determining eligibility and amount of assistance provided to the
The Senate version of the legislation would also amend section 408 of the
Social Security Act to eliminate the assignment of support in TANF cases
after September 30, 2023. The intent of this provision is to move to fullfamily
distribution by FY 2026.
It is expected that the Strengthening Families for Success Act will be
reintroduced in 2021.
Elizabeth Morgan has worked for the child support program for more than 30 years.
Before joining the private sector, Elizabeth worked for the Washington State child
support program. Elizabeth is currently a management consultant with Public
Knowledge after a recent merger with the Center for the Support of Families. Elizabeth
has served as a lead author of federal policy guidance and training for the distribution
requirements contained under PRWORA and the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. She is
co-chair of NCSEA’s Policy and Government Relations’ Legislative Education
Subcommittee and is a past-president and honorary lifetime board member of WICSEC.
Elizabeth holds a B.A. from Whitman College, an M.S. from Western Washington
University, and a J.D. from Seattle University.
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To our amazing clients, partners,
and frontline staff across the nation
– we miss your smiling faces! You
are all heroes, helping children and
families in need in the midst of a
pandemic, and we are honored to
serve alongside you.
Your friends at Maximus
All of us here at Informatix
appreciate the opportunity to
have stood with you in these
uncertain times to deliver
and support the child
support community. We
miss seeing you in person
and hope that you are safe
and remain well.
Nothing displays the strength of a
community like coming together
during a global pandemic. The
strength and resilience of the Child
Support Community is unmatched -
we are grateful to stride arm-in-arm
with you toward a brighter future and
we look forward to seeing you again
soon! - Protech Solutions, Inc
The pandemic changed so
many things, but it hasn’t
changed your commitment or
ours! Thanks to everyone
who’s gone above and
beyond during this
Congratulations to the Child Support community
on your remarkable resilience and innovation
while overcoming the challenges presented by
COVID-19! The impact of your dedication and
commitment on the lives of the children and
families you serve is especially meaningful at this
time and we are looking forward to when you can
share your achievements in person. - Deloitte
A Remembrance from NCSEA’s President
by Lisa Skenandore
“It is good to tell one’s heart.” ~ Chippewa Proverb
My heart is heavy today as are many in the child support community who
had the privilege to know Pat Quinn and learned of his passing on
Saturday, March 20th. Pat was
appointed to the NCSEA Board of
Directors last September and was
co-chair of the Emerging Issues
and Leading Practices for the
Policy and Government Relations
This simple proverb epitomizes
who Pat was to many of us in the
child support community. He was
passionate about the law and the
families it affected. If you were
blessed to spend time with him,
even for a few minutes, you would
often hear stories from Pat in
which he would share life lessons and his own personal journey. It is
through these experiences that he gave to us in his own special way. I
always left with a sense of comfort and feeling like I mattered. He offered
no judgement, only support and his wise words learned from his own
Over the past few years, I was fortunate to participate in a Fantasy Football
League along with Pat. This past season I wasn’t faring too well and he
reached out to me with an offer to trade some of his players simply to be
kind and help me. I didn’t take him up on it since I figured it was too late in
the season to help my standing, but it was moments like these, ones of
kindness without solicitation, that I’ll surely miss.
I have a nice picture of Pat
and me that I now keep on
my desk as a gentle
reminder to myself to tell my
heart. Thank you, Pat, for all
that you gave to me and,
most importantly, the entire
child support community.
We are blessed to have had
your wisdom shared with so
The NCSEA Board of Directors is actively working on a tribute to Pat that
will be shared at a later date
Marketing the Child Support Program: A Public
Relations Study and Results
By David Kilgore, IV-D Director, California Department of Child
Support Services and Karen Hebert, IV-D Director, New
Hampshire Bureau of Child Support Services
At the May 2017 National Council of Child Support Directors (NCCSD)
annual conference, a director suggested a joint effort between NCCSD, the
National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA), and the Office
of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to proactively market a positive
image of the child support program to the public and families who need our
services. Such an innocent but insightful recommendation has opened up
one of the largest and most complex issues for the program: why are
parents who could benefit from our services not applying to our program?
Overview of the Public Relations Committee
As outlined in its Charter, this Committee was charged with exploring
nationwide initiatives to promote a more positive, holistic image of the IV-D
program and to improve the public’s and stakeholders’ understanding of its
services. Several key responsibilities grew from that:
• Develop strategies for a nationwide marketing plan and a
corresponding timeline for implementation.
• Develop strategies to generate support among state IV-D directors to
participate in the marketing plan.
• Develop a proposal for a way to help smaller states obtain resources
• Develop strategies to educate legislatures, court systems, employers,
and other stakeholders about the program.
• Consider legislative changes necessary to facilitate and encourage
participation in the program.
• Develop strategies to change the perception of the program by the
general public as well as the child support community.
In addition to those larger initiatives, the committee has been contemplating
strategies for technology, costs, and measures for any marketing efforts.
Members have also been gathering information on successful marketing
strategies within the child support community.
The committee was initially established for a three-year effort. Not to give
away the ending, but this might take a few more years than just three.
While it would have been wonderful to jump right into a nationwide
marketing plan, committee members quickly realized they needed
assessments of states’ current marketing resources and capacity to
implement a marketing plan if it were to be developed. An initial survey was
completed in November 2018 that highlighted several key findings, most
• More than half of the respondents noted they do not have a dedicated
public relations office/media person.
• More than half of the respondents do not use social media.
• Less than 25 percent of the respondents buy media advertisements.
• Most states focus their outreach on their local community outreach
events, employers, and legislature.
The survey results sparked more questions than answers, resulting in a
secondary survey. This second effort was completed in August 2020. Key
findings from this survey included:
• 72 percent of states have considered using texting and determined
that their case management systems are not compatible with texting
technology. Those that employ some texting technology do not
interface with their case management systems.
• 69 percent of states faced the same limitation with mobile
• Some states are still determining the value of a mobile application
over a mobile-friendly website.
• A majority of the states that responded favored fact sheets, action
plan guides, and/or a logo provided by the committee to use as a
baseline for their public relations efforts.
• Nine of the twenty-nine states that responded provided an answer as
to what their focus would be if awarded a digital marketing grant. All
linked their efforts to more use
of social media.
An analysis of the results shows
a lack of coordinated
efforts and/or means to do so,
consistent with the first survey
results. This is especially true for
more modern outreach
approaches, such as mobile
apps, texting, and interactive
websites. The majority of states
indicated that they are aware that they should be investing in digital
marketing but just don’t have the budget for it. It appears from the results
that states are hobbled by internal restraints such as a “legacy system.”
None of the states responding were clear on which actions would be the
most successful or even the metrics that could measure success.
The survey initiative was intended to provide a snapshot of the status of
child support public relations today and offer an opportunity to learn about
innovative and successful approaches used in states. The committee
concluded that the child support program faces significant barriers to
effectively market itself and needs a pathway to accomplish such
objectives. Efforts to continue further, however, were deeply affected by the
ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, as states grew significantly concerned
about impacts in their state, particularly the future of their state budgets,
and many initiatives across the country were paused.
Nonetheless, the committee developed a formal report of the survey
findings and conclusions in hopes the information could be leveraged by
states to address or influence factors that complicate prioritizing and
developing successful public relations activities now or in the future.
After releasing the report, the committee shifted its focus to what it could
accomplish for states in the form of both low-hanging fruit as well as
greater blue sky initiatives.
Successes Along the Way
Aside from the core discussions regarding national
marketing and state capacity, several smaller ‘wins’
have been achieved along the way. Fundamentally,
the language the child support community uses will
need to come into alignment for any sort of national
marketing to be successful. Several key documents
were developed for states to begin tackling that
Elevator Pitch for Child Support Professionals: You’ve been asked where
you work and what you do. Instead of saying you work for government in
the most generic of terms, this quick pitch can be used to proudly share a
little bit about your job and the program. Each consistent sharing of this
message will build upon itself over time.
Talking Points for Professionals: These talking points aim at uniform and
consistent messaging despite the variety of stakeholders and complex
subject matters that make up our environment. Each talking point is
categorized to make it easier for readers to find the best one to suit their
needs. Several of them can also be tailored to meet the individual needs of
any state, such as incorporating state-specific data. A section also relates
to services and challenges during the pandemic.
COVID-19 Infographics: Like many other activities in the program, the
committee’s efforts were delayed while we all struggled to get our arms
around this challenging time. However, a crisis is exactly the time when
communication and information is most needed. The committee created
COVID-19 infographic templates so that each state could quickly pull
together the latest information on the crisis and report the effect it has had
on the program. The State of California graciously offered its assistance to
help develop pandemic infographics to any other state that wanted it.
The child support community is quite actively engaged in many initiatives to
promote services and improve the customer experience. Here is a sneak
peek at a few of them the committee learned about firsthand:
• California created audio, video, and graphics to fast-message
customers and stakeholders about what the program does for
families. See some examples here:
• Bob Williams, president of Veritas, authored a white paper on a best
approach to strengthen the positive public perception of the program
and garner legislative support. “Functioning as the largest cash
safety net for single-parent families is a powerful component of child
• Virginia’s Digital Marketing project enabled customers to apply online
easily! The online method now accounts for 75 percent of
applications, significantly reducing the paper process.
• Virginia also conducted an outreach campaign for non-IV-D
customers that provides important feedback regarding their
perspective of how useful IV-D services might be to them.
• California created trust among applicants using domestic violence
protections and the option not to provide a social security number
online. It also reduced the traditional static seven-page application
with a method that guides applicants through each question.
• Arizona has built a marvelous feedback tool to gain a better
perspective from customers to improve services.
• Washington has an online video resource library that parents (and
other child support professionals) are free to access and use. The
library can be found here: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/divisionchild-support/parent-resources.
• California has a comprehensive media campaign using a variety of
advertising techniques and media for specific targeted segments to
generate awareness, inspire action, and influence behavior. The
state has gathered great data and information on what it has learned,
how it can innovate, and what it can improve. The campaigns are
fully equipped with measures and methods to evaluate effectiveness.
If you’re interested in learning about or initiating a project similar to any of
these, all these states will share their methods, information and findings.
The committee’s three years went by quickly and, obviously, there is no
national marketing strategy implemented. NCCSD and NCSEA agreed that
continuing these efforts is still valuable despite the challenging nature of
the project. The committee is now charging headlong into the concept of a
national campaign itself. Three major approaches have been discussed so
The first approach is to build a campaign around gathering further
marketing intelligence on those we seek to influence. Several states have
initiated some of this research already and gathered localized success and
knowledge to build upon. Ultimately, though, this effort would seek to
identify how our program is perceived and what we would need to change
or implement to inspire new participants to seek our services. Conducting
this research correctly comes with a cost; however, it may be a worthwhile
investment before sinking money into marketing based on what we think
The second concept is to target people who think the child support program
isn’t available to them or those who don’t even realize we exist and are
here to help. While we believe most people know about the concept of child
support, not everyone realizes the program is here for them with services
that are practically free or what those services actually are.
The third effort could be considered a precursor to the second concept, and
that is to build an online national child support application. Consider the
benefits of one nationally accepted application that could be promoted in
every state. It’s a daunting concept to consider just how complicated
developing this application would be . . . or would it? Recent
demonstrations of tools already in use by some states have shown that it is
possible. In fact, this could be built in such a way as to contain universal
questions as well as state-specific questions, and still make the application
streamlined and easy.
While the committee chews on these options, we are also seeking
additional thoughts and ideas from the broader child support community on
what a national campaign might look like. If you would like to contribute to
the conversation, please reach out to Committee Co-Chairs, David Kilgore
at David.firstname.lastname@example.org or Diane Potts at email@example.com.
There is a changing landscape in the child support program right now.
Each of us are strategizing to keep up with the times and adjust our
programs to account for those changes. We are not the same program as
thirty years ago (or even twenty), and we haven’t shared this latest iteration
of the program with our potential participants across the nation. Hopefully,
with the help of all of you and the tireless effort of the Public Relations
Committee, you’ll be a part of that change.
Karen Hebert is the IV-D Director for the State of New Hampshire Department of
Health and Human Services, Bureau of Child Support Services since 2018. She has
worked for the program since 2006 overseeing policy, field operations, customer
service, and interagency collaboration and integration. She is Chair of the National
Council of Child Support Services (NCCSD) Mentoring Committee and actively
participates in the Council’s Audit Committee and the Policy and Practice Committee.
Karen represents NCCSD on the joint Public Relations Committee with NCSEA and the
federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). Karen obtained her Bachelor of
Science degree in Human Services from Springfield College, and Master in Business
Administration with a Leadership concentration from Norwich University.
David Kilgore is a proud graduate of the California State University at Northridge where
he received his master’s degree in Public Administration and currently serves as
Director for the California Department of Child Support Services. David has worked in
the Child Support Program at the county level for 15 years and served as director of the
Riverside County DCSS, chief deputy director and deputy director for Los Angeles
CSSD, deputy director at the San Bernardino County DCSS and held several positions
at the Tulare County DCSS including manager and staff services analyst. David served
on the Board of Directors with the Child Support Directors Association and a member of
the National Child Support Enforcement Association Board of Directors.
Print article here
We continue to be impressed with
the resilience of our child support
community and hope everyone is
doing ok during these very trying
times. We are hoping to gain back
some sense of normalcy as vaccines
become readily available and look
forward to seeing all our clients and
colleagues soon. – Veritas HHS
Shout-out to all of our child support
friends who are like family to us –
sending sincerest respect &
admiration for the noble work you
do to improve the lives of children
and families – hoping to see you all
healthy, happy, and in-person soon
at NCSEA, MIFSC, or anywhere! –
Appriss Insights is proud to
be a supporter and partner
of NCSEA and its members.
We honor the critical work
of child support
professionals and their
tireless dedication to
protecting the most
vulnerable in communities
all across the nation. -
From everyone at Public Knowledge (a/k/a your
friends at the former CSF), we are looking forward
to seeing you in person very soon. Until then,
whether it’s our new unintended bias E-Learning
course or program improvements or ways to
leverage COVID-relief funds, let us know what PK
can do for you! – Public Knowledge
Is NCSEA U For You?
NCSEA U was chartered in 2013 and currently has
more than 135 alumni. NCSEA U provides a unique
premier educational and professional development
opportunity. It is structured for learning leaders in the
child support community and it complements NCSEA’s
other educational initiatives and strategies. The
program is taught by nationally recognized child
support leaders, offering a variety of informative and
strategic topics. Classes are structured with an
emphasis on group discussions that include work/life balance and best practice initiatives
with real time work environment scenarios.
Whether for yourself or your staff, NCSEA U offers a transformative learning experience
and is a catalyst for networking opportunities. NCSEA U alumni would love for you to
become a part of this unique group. Because we are proud of NCSEA U, we will be
featuring Alumni in upcoming CSQ articles. Their stories will highlight why NCSEA U is for
Meet Our NCSEA U Alumni
Kathie Bohacek- Class 2017
San Joaquin County Department of Child Support Services
Title Program Manager
What would you like others to know about NCSEA U? Not only is this a great professional development
opportunity but the class size is fantastic for engaging with instructors and other attendees. The instructors
are well versed in the theme for the year and are always so encouraging. You will come away with new
ideas you can put into practice.
Since attending NCSEA U, what opportunities (personal and professional) have you experienced?
NCSEA U opened my eyes to all that NCSEA has to offer. Since attending NCSEA U, I have had the
opportunity to get to know many NCSEA U alumni who were not in my class (some have become great
friends). I have been afforded the opportunity to volunteer for several committees with NCSEA. I currently
Co-Chair the NCSEA Connects Sub Committee and Co-Facilitate the NCSEA Connects: Training group
and was a speaker during the 2020 Leadership Symposium. Since attending NCSEA U I have also
dedicated more time to my professional development by enrolling in classes and training programs to
continue my education.
Why would you recommend NCSEA U to others? The learning experience and new skills you will
develop is just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond those sessions there are so many additional opportunities
available to you. Networking with other child support professionals, making lifelong friends, learning more
about NCSEA - which opens up volunteer opportunities to participate in other NCSEA activities.
John Hurst-Class 2018
Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Child Support
Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Child Support Services
What would you like others to know about NCSEA U? NCSEA U provides real world scenarios and
experiences that can help emerging leaders in Child Support learn how to navigate those areas when
encountered. Also, the excellent networking opportunities to meet and get to know other child support
professionals from across the country.
Since attending NCSEA U, what opportunities (personal and professional) have you experienced?
Since attending NCSEA U, I have become active in NCSEA and currently serve on three committees in
support of the organization. In December 2020, I was appointed as the Interim Director of the Georgia Child
Do you have a favorite author in the leadership space and/or would you recommend a specific
leadership book? Why? "Lincoln on Leadership" is one of my favorite leadership books. It is very matter of
fact and provides many common sense type leadership tips.
Roxanne Mudd – Class of 2019
Organization Ho-Chunk Nation
Child Support Lead Specialist
Since attending NCSEA U, what opportunities (personal and professional) have you
experienced? I have been temporarily assigned twice as the Director of our Child Support
Agency. I am currently on 4 NCSEA committees, and I was a moderator for the ERICSA Family
Reunion Plenary Session.
NCSEA U @ Leadership Symposium focuses on the emerging and learning leader. How do
you define leadership? Leadership is the ability to set a positive example and give hope to your
team, guide them effectively and help them succeed.
Do you believe that attending NCSEA U helped shaped this definition? How or how not?
Attending NCSEAU helped me see the bigger picture. It also opened my mind up to wanting to be
on other committees and how I can help educate others about the importance of being involved.