Table of Contents
Community Corner: Goodbye to Child Support (as we know it)........................5
DEI Work Continues for the Child Support Community………………………...14
Central Registries Doing What We Expect Them to Do………….…………….17
Gender-Neutral Voluntary Establishments of Parentage ………………………25
NCSEA Needs Your Input for the NCSEA Research Website…………………36
2021 Leadership Symposium Preview…………………….….………………….38
Meet NCSEA U Alumni……………………………………………………………..41
President’s Message July 2021
by Lisa Skenandore, SMI
I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying the change
in seasons. This year, especially, I found myself happy
to have summer arrive so I can enjoy the outdoors. It is
hard to believe it has been over a year, although
sometimes it feels longer, we have been living through
the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been happy to see
some normalcy return as well as the reemergence of regular activities. This
spring and summer do seem to be a rejuvenation of sorts for us.
Speaking of rejuvenation, it is almost the time of year when NCSEA passes
the gavel for the next leader to take reign. My term as your President started
ten months ago and, before I knew it, it is now almost over. Through it all this
past year, I have been so very pleased to be a part of NCSEA’s great work.
In terms of accomplishments, we not only held two record-breaking virtual
conferences, but also will see our first in-person event return with the 2021
NCSEA Leadership Symposium in the great city of Austin, Texas in August.
I, like many of you, am very excited to return in person and not only learn
from each other through the fantastic plenaries and sessions but also
through the networking that the conference provides. It is only the beginning
of many wonderful and engaging new relationships that we are blessed to
develop through these events. I hope many of you will have the opportunity
to join us this year as we have a fantastic event planned with six thoughtprovoking
I’m especially grateful to all our volunteers who make NCSEA what it is, the
national voice for the child support community. Sitting from my seat, I see
the incredible amount of teamwork and countless hours that go into each
and every one of our committees. I am grateful to each of you for your
passion and commitment to NCSEA and our community. I know my work will
continue with NCSEA and I look forward to supporting President-Elect Lori
Bengston in her journey this next year.
I feel incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity. The NCSEA board
members, executive committee, staff, and membership have all played such
an integral role in the success of the association over the course of the past
year. I know I could not have led without the immense support from all of
you. I thank you, Yaw’ko, for sharing your time and expertise with us and I
hope that our paths continue to cross.
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.
Goodbye to Child Support
(As We Know It)
by Jeff Ball, Project Manager, YoungWilliams
I retired July 9 th . I have spent 34 years thinking about and working in the
child support world. I found my career extremely rewarding. Like Forrest
Gump, I was hanging around during many key moments in the history of
the program, and I have seen its evolution into a well-regarded and welloperated
It is time to ditch this paradigm.
Since the national program’s birth in 1975 when Congress created Title IV-
D, we have focused on collections as the measure of our success. Even
the federal performance measures rely more on the collection base for the
amount of incentive dollars a state receives than how the state performs in
the five indicators.
Parents owe over $113 billion in past due support. Some of it is interest; a
large percentage is owed to governments for TANF reimbursement. But
what sticks out is that most of the billions of past-due support are owed by
parents who are low income, and disproportionately, people of color. Are
we perpetuating poverty and parental discord?
Originally, the goal in 1975 was reimbursing the federal, state, and local
governments for the cost of welfare. The program broadened in the early
1980s to assist parents who had never received public assistance.
Eventually, the family’s past-due support became prioritized in the
distribution chain over the government debt. Some states today pass part
or all of the current support to parents receiving TANF instead of
reimbursing government. We are incrementally moving away from first
paying back governments to giving families their support dollars, whether
timely paid or not.
Today, we are examining the contours of our program and offering
employment assistance to paying parents. We provide referrals to
programs that can aid a parent to overcome barriers, not only to
employment, but to fruitful interaction with his or her children.
But we have dropped ourselves, deus ex
machina, into the lives of people, many
of whom do not want us involved.
Conversely, we have not involved
ourselves in enough situations where our
intervention may make a large difference
to a family, but no one has reached out
By not representing either parent, we have often disregarded the
arguments and concerns of parents, who appear pro se in the vast majority
of our cases. They usually have a hard time navigating the rules of civil
procedure and evidence in an adversarial court structure that they may
have only previously experienced vicariously by watching Law and Order
We usually have an inadequate referral for a parent who cannot see his or
his kids. Our funding is siloed so that all but de minimis activities
associated with parenting plans receive no federal funding.
So what can we do to make two-household children’s lives better? How do
we support children?
Enough of incremental change, building on a 1975 model jazzed up to
collect for parents instead of governments but with many of the
weaknesses found in the original model.
What are the elements of a new system to support children?
The Economic Part
First, we implement child support assurance and child support guarantees.
What is this radical notion of child support assurance? It is an idea that has
been floated since the 1980s. The Institute on Research and Poverty at the
University of Wisconsin’s researchers have written extensively about the
topic. Even the American Enterprise Institute has weighed in favor of the
concept to reduce poverty in 2018. While the pay first model will have a
price tag of several billion dollars, the collection activities that follow will
keep us close to our current collection rate of about two dollars collected for
every three dollars currently owed. Since time is not of the essence in most
cases, since most if not all child support is paid before it is collected, we
can recalibrate how we collect and devote fewer resources.
Child support assurance could be paid directly to the primary residential
parent for the first $10,000 of child support owed per year for one child,
$12,500 for two children, and $15,000 for three or more children. The
program would pay support out in monthly increments and then collect it
from the paying parent through income withholding and tax adjustments. A
few other enforcement tools would be used, but not license suspension. No
interest would accrue on past-due support. Any support order that includes
payments above the assurance amount will be paid monthly through
income withholding or through automatic withdrawal from a bank account.
What is a child support guarantee? It is a floor of support for a child of lowincome
parents who need a supplemental amount of money to even the
playing field with other children. It is a cousin of the child credit that is
starting in July 2021.
If the order for child support fails to provide sufficient support to meet the
basic needs of the child, a floor of child support will supplement the ordered
amount. For instance, the paying parent is incarcerated, the order is $300
per year for one child, and the
custodial parent’s contribution to
child support used in the order
calculation is $2400 per year. If
the marginal cost of a child is
$6,000 per year (the difference
between the majority residential
time parent’s costs for herself or
himself and the cost for that
What is a child support guarantee? It is a
floor of support for a child of low-income
parents who need a supplemental amount of
money to even the playing field with other
children. It is a cousin of the child credit that
is starting in July 2021.
parent with one child), the government would pay $500 per month to the
majority residential time parent minus the $200 monthly contribution that
the parent could provide ($2400 divided by 12). So for the year, the
government would pay $3600 to the family, and the paying parent would be
billed for $300 of that amount, and whatever was not paid would be a debt
on his or her taxes the next time they were filed.
If the paying parent is granted parole and is gainfully employed in the
future, the new income level would be used to adjust the support order
automatically on an annual basis. Similar adjustments would be made for
the majority residential time parent as well when it comes to the ordered
amount and the minimum contribution that is then supplemented.
We also should institute a national age of majority at 18 or high school,
whichever is later. The order goes down automatically when one child
emancipates if there are younger children under the order. A disabled child
may have support continued beyond the age of majority upon proof that the
child is not
able to be selfsupporting
from any income
in overnights for
support amount for
the rest of
proportionately by months.
The Parental Emotional Ties Part
Title IV-D should be interwoven with the new Title IV-G, which addresses
initial custody decisions, access and visitation issues, and parenting plans.
The two parts of Title IV will have separate appropriations, yet the funding
for each part can be used in the other part. In other words, Title IV-D as a
funding source will not prohibit economic child support staff from working in
unison with Title IV-G emotional child support staff. The more seamless the
process the better, including the sharing of computer systems.
Title IV-G would offer mediation of custody and visitation, promotion of
parenting plans, and provide paid referrals for counseling on anger
management and domestic violence victim therapy as part of the new
approach. Title IV-G would also work with the Court Appointed Special
Advocate Program (CASA) on supervised visitation assistance. Title IV-G
staff would entertain modifications of parenting plans when there were
substantial changes in circumstances, children aging out of a previous
plan, or the two households’ distance apart made the last plan impractical.
The Customer Case Ownership Part
Today, the child support agency is the assignee of rights in TANF cases,
stepping in the place of the TANF parent. And even though an applicant in
a never-TANF case can withdraw at any time, Title IV-D agencies control
the destiny of that case. Most parents are sidelined by our approach,
waiting for us to act and respond to changes in income, custody,
overnights, etc. The agencies play catch up since we are not directly
involved in the day-to-day life of the family and often not informed of key
changes until months or years later.
Every person who is not living with the other alleged parent or spouse
should be highly encouraged to use IV-D and/or IV-G services as soon as
the separation occurs. A large, national promotional campaign would help
explain our services and availability.
If one goes to court regarding the children and support, all cases should be
placed in Title IV-D and IV-G agencies unless both legally recognized
parents opt out. Unlike today when parents sign away control of their case
until they withdraw, parents can work out settlements at any time during the
early stages of separation and later for modification purposes to reflect the
changing realities of life. For those
parents who cannot agree, both
parents should be given access to
digital sources or handed paper
materials that explain the processes.
Attorneys will be provided for each
parent or caretaker, but the forum will
not be an adversarial, formal
courtroom but an informal setting where parents can discuss their
difference and try to forge a solution. If a stipulation is reached, the court
will review it to be sure that it reflects equal bargaining power, and then
enter an order incorporating the stipulation.
If parents cannot agree, the points in dispute will be heard by a mediator.
No evidentiary rules apply except for relevancy of the testimony or exhibits
to the issues before the mediator, and an appropriate discounting of
hearsay testimony. The mediator will recommend a solution and if there is
no appeal, it becomes final. If either party still wants to appeal, the case
could go to a traditional court venue.
Parentage can be done on a national scale, with parties appearing for a
buccal swab at the closest lab to them. The results are sent to the OCSS
(Office of Child Support Services) Division of Parentage. Using the Revised
Uniform Parentage Act guidelines, the Division inquires to see if there is a
psychological or nurturing alternative parent. If there is none, then the
iological parent is made the legal parent. If there is a nurturing parent or
parents as well as a biological parent, then a hearing will be held of the
possible legal parents to determine who should be a legal parent and who
should have primary legal responsibility for support.
Domestic violence screening should be done at the start of every case to
ensure that the program proactively aids those who feel threatened.
The Implementation of Procedural and Fair Justice Part
The use of the adversarial system of justice is meant to ferret out the most
credible evidence and produce a series of decisions a third-party judge or
jury can make after carefully reviewing the evidence. It does not work well
in domestic cases.
First, when both parents do not have competent legal representation of
their interests, it is almost impossible for a pro se litigant to match up well
against a well-represented agency or other party. The setting for settling
domestic disputes and creating the atmosphere for a stable two-household
future for the parties and their children should not be a formal courtroom.
Post-COVID, parents should meet in a room
with comfortable chairs with a mediator,
talking about each issue to see if a common
ground exists for a solution, and work
toward a document that is acceptable to
both parents. The mediator must make sure
that there is no arm-twisting or threats,
veiled or otherwise, occurring. For issues
still unresolved, a second mediation is scheduled. If after that mediation,
there is no settlement on all remaining issues, the mediator will make a
recommended finding for the parties to either accept or reject. If the finding
is rejected, a court hearing can be scheduled. The court could hold a final
pre-hearing meeting to discuss options and if there still is no settlement, a
court hearing would be held.
Whoever is writing the orders (attorney, judge, mediator, magistrate) needs
to use a federally approved order that includes more alternative
occurrences than are generally written in orders today to accommodate
changes in family structure without a return to court. Laddering orders for
each child’s emancipation, anticipating a switch in custody or a change in
geographic distance between households (beyond reasonable driving
distance) could be addressed. Proofs of these changes may be filed with
the court and the parties to trigger the changes.
Modification of the support ordered amount may be based on alleged
changes that alter the order
by more than 10% and are
contemplated to be
continuous for one year or
more, subject to rebuttal
arguments by the other
Parents (parties) should and would be in
control of their own cases to a much
greater degree than they are today.
party. A mediator will settle the modification issue. Retroactive modification
will be allowed back to the date of the triggering change or one year,
whichever is shorter.
The Restructuring of Roles Part
Parents (parties) should and would be in control of their own cases to a
much greater degree than they are today. The presumption is the parents
are taking care of their issues, with basic remedies such as income
withholding, tax offset, worker’s compensation, and unemployment benefit
intercept automatically in place. If additional remedies are needed, the child
support agency could assist, working with both parents on a payment plan.
At the end of the year, if there is a balance owed, it is adjusted on the
payor’s tax return based on a form sent to the payor in January.
(Remember that child support assurance and guarantee may make
collection efforts less of a timeliness issue.) Anytime there are disputes that
the parents cannot resolve or if a parent is very hard to track down for
compliance purposes, an elevated response by the agency could be put in
place; however, contempts and criminal prosecutions will be reserved for
only the rarest of egregious situations (e.g., well-off payor purposely hiding
assets or a self-employed payor who dramatically overstates business
deductions or takes small draw-downs).
The federal OCSS and Title IV-G agencies would oversee paternity and
order establishment documentation, using the national guideline, the
national age of majority, and the federal support order and parenting plan
template. All the mediation work would be handled locally. The final orders
would be uploaded to the enhanced National Case Registry, and the
paternity orders and Acknowledgments of Paternity would be filed with
state offices of vital records for birth certificate amendment.
Enforcement would be mostly automated at the national level, replacing
state-level automated enforcement activities. When additional enforcement
efforts are needed, the local office may be asked to conduct local
enforcement activities such as imposing real property liens, conducting a
state financial institution match, file a few contempts, etc. Since many
traditional child support state and local jobs would disappear, the federal
government would hire many of the same workers for the expanded federal
role, all working remotely. Both Title IV-D and IV-G local agencies would
hire several thousand mediators, counselors, and employment specialists.
The New Automation Part
As the federal government develops a national child support system, the
vestigial state systems would be replaced or modified by one model system
adaptable to each state’s and tribe’s needs. The model’s licensing would
be available to several vendors, but the common programming and
platform would be the same.
The federal case management system would expand to handle casework,
with the capacity to handle all IV-D, non-IV-D, and IV-G cases. Needless to
say all documents are imaged and universally available to those with
security clearance to work cases. A federal customer service unit would
respond to all texts, emails, calls, and hard mail as a first-tier response,
sending requests for follow up to the appropriate worker at the federal,
state, or local level.
Interstate cases would be handled at the federal level, unless a local
enforcement technique is needed or a modification request needs
mediation. In the local enforcement case, a local child support attorney
would be deputized by the U.S. Attorney’s office for that district for that
case. UIFSA would be replaced by a revised and expanded Full Faith and
Credit for Child Support Orders Act that
provides federal nationwide jurisdiction
for child support, with venue based on
where the child resides (alternatively, the
parties can agree to the venue in the
state where the last order was issued).
Ideally, child support venue will follow
custody and visitation jurisdiction based
on where the child has resided for the past six months. Congress would
have to make a finding that the in personam jurisdictional limitations of
Kulko v Superior Court are removed to comport with international law and
child custody jurisdiction based on federal plenary nationwide child support
jurisdiction. This is currently the case in federal criminal nonsupport cases.
Mobile applications for both parties would not only put a lot of case data
and program information at the fingertips of the parties, it would allow the
parties to start taking actions in a case, such as a modification. A Q and A
approach like TurboTax would walk the party through the process. Through
the power of videoconferencing a mediator may remotely serve parents in
two different states.
Our collections foundation is too small for the new child support world. The
new goals are:
• Consistent, timely payments to families with a floor level of support;
• more self-help customer service in which the parents are more in
control of their cases;
• a move away from court confrontation to mediation; providing
remedies for all parenting time issues;
• helping parents overcome barriers to parenting and paying support;
• restructuring child support and invigorating the role of the federal
government in establishment, enforcement, and modification of child
support through national jurisdiction and federalized automated
As the 46-year old program refocuses on a broader base for assisting
families, add your vision to what we can do to make the lives of the children
living in two households as enriching as possible.
Jeff Ball is the Project Manager/IV-D Administrator in Colorado for the El Paso and
Teller County Child Support Services offices for YoungWilliams, PC. He has worked in
the child support field for 28 years and has been an attorney for 34 years. Previously,
Jeff was senior advisor to the OCSE Commissioner, OCSE Technical Assistance
Branch Chief, and OCSE Welfare Reform Liaison. He was general counsel to the U.S.
Commission on Interstate Child Support and helped write the report to Congress:
Supporting Our Children: A Blueprint for Reform. He is a past president of ERICSA and
the 2010 winner of its Felix Infausto Award.
NCSEA’s Emerging Issues and Leading
Practices Sub-Group Continues DEI Work
for the Child Support Community
by Lara Fors, Public Knowledge
The Emerging Issues and Leading Practices (EI & LP) subcommittee of the
Policy and Government Relations Committee examines issues and
practices that can have an impact on the child support program. EI &LP
has a subgroup devoted to continuing the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
(DEI) work that began at the NCSEA Policy Forum. The EI & LP DEI subgroup
members are Trish Skophammer, Phyllis Nance, Landis Rossi, Tish
Keahna, Sean Gorman, and Lara Fors.
Vision for DEI Work
NCSEA believes in the importance
of fostering diversity, equity, and
inclusion in the child support
program for staff and for participants
of the program. NCSEA
acknowledges systemic racism and
discrimination exist. NCSEA will
work through education and
advocacy to raise awareness, eliminate biases, and reduce disparate
outcomes in the child support program. We refer to this self-examination,
and the changes we make as a result, as “doing DEI work.”
The EI & LP DEI subgroup formed last year and spent some time thinking
about the best way to approach the DEI topic in the child support program.
We eagerly awaited the 2021 Policy Forum to hear the expert speakers
and listen to the attendees’ reactions and feedback. In our subgroup
meetings, we agreed to ground rules to be respectful, thoughtful, and
gracious with ourselves and one another when we discussed racism and
discrimination in our child support program and in our society. We noticed
our own speech slowed as we became aware of our words and considered
their origins of use. One member referred to the different “silos” of
government offices, and one of us
pointed out that not everyone
understands “silos” or how the word
applies to that situation. 1 Even a
regional or occupational (in this
case, farming) reference can
exclude others from understanding,
which serves an as important
reminder there are many ways we
inadvertently exclude and there are also many ways we can proactively
create more inclusivity.
After the Policy Forum, the EI & LP DEI group met and reflected on
comments during the Discussion Groups and in the conference feedback,
which highlighted organizations would like to be doing DEI work, but were
not sure where or how to start. The EI & LP DEI group believes NCSEA
can be a resource for child support programs by developing a roadmap
toolkit for child support leaders and their organizations. The roadmap toolkit
will include an order of activities, resources, and offer a community of
NCSEA Connects: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We also discovered at Policy Forum that child support professionals
appreciated the opportunity to talk about DEI issues and learned from
sharing their questions and experiences. We think the best way to continue
this self-examination is to energize and empower NCSEA’s existing group,
NCSEA Connects: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.
This group is a clearinghouse for resources and highlights leading
practices. NCSEA created this community to bring together child support
professionals who are on the forefront of DEI education and reflection and
create a place for sharing research and other information about DEI work.
Currently 69 NCSEA members have joined this community. This is a great
place to start with reviewing DEI research, materials, and leading practices
to create the roadmap toolkit. We propose NCSEA assigns co-chairs to
manage the clearinghouse, secure facilitators, and schedule regular
Merriam-Webster defines a silo as “a trench, pit, or especially a tall cylinder (as of wood or concrete)
usually sealed to exclude air and used for making and storing silage.”
The EI & LP DEI subgroup would like to start with empowering the NCSEA
Connects: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion community. This will be a great
place to begin creating the roadmap toolkit based on the experiences and
resources of the members already sharing their DEI work in child support.
The EI & LP DEI subgroup would like to expand our group to include others
that are interested in creating this roadmap toolkit for child support
programs. To create the best toolkit that includes the right questions and
answers, we are looking for people who are either experienced with DEI
work in their child support program or who are wanting the roadmap toolkit
to start their own journey.
Invitation for Volunteers
If you are already a member of the NCSEA Connects: Diversity, Equity &
Inclusion community and would like to help facilitate the community,
contact Gillyn Croog. If you would like to join the EI & LP DEI subgroup
and help create the roadmap toolkit, please contact Lara Fors at
Lara Fors joined the Center for the Support of Families in 2019, now known as Public
Knowledge®, after serving for over 25 years in the IV-D program of Missouri. In
Missouri, Lara served as the IV-D Director of the Family Support Division, the First
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and Director of a multi-county prosecutors’ office in
Springfield, and as Assistant Prosecutor in Kansas City. Lara currently serves on two
NCSEA committees: Policy and Government Relations (PG&R) and is Co-Chair of the
Emerging Issues and Leading Practices P&GR subcommittee. Lara is a past president
of the Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support Association, ERICSA (2014), and of
the Missouri child support professional association, MCSEA (2007).
Central Registries – Doing What We
Expect Them To Do, Plus So Much More
by Rob Velcoff, Intergovernmental Support Services
Question – What is this a definition of: "A single unit or office within the
State IV-D agency which receives, disseminates and has oversight
responsibility for processing incoming interstate IV-D cases, including
UIFSA petitions and requests for wage withholding in IV-D cases?"
A: Central Authority
B: Interstate Tribunal
C: Central Registry
D: What it will say on the author’s tombstone when the time comes.
Assuming you read the title to this article, you know the correct answer is
“C”. Even if you didn’t read the title, there’s a pretty good chance you would
have gotten the correct answer based on your overall knowledge of the IV-
D child support program, especially if you regularly work intergovernmental
cases. After all, each state is federally mandated to operate a Central
Registry. But do you really know everything that Central Registries do?
As previously stated, Central Registries within state IV-D programs are a
requirement in federal regulations: CFR §303.7(b) Provision of services in
intergovernmental IV-D cases. (b) Central registry. (1) The State IV-D
agency must establish a central registry responsible for receiving,
transmitting, and responding to inquiries on all incoming intergovernmental
Okay, so what does this mean? Simply put, it means that all IV-D child
support offices within the jurisdiction of the United States (50 states, 4
territories, 60 tribal IV-D agencies) must send all new outgoing interstate
cases to the Central Registry office in the state/territory where the
respondent to an action resides. Hague, federal bilateral, and state-level
agreement foreign countries should send their child support cases in this
same manner. Note that this could mean a filing by either the custodial or
the noncustodial parent. So that’s a lot of incoming cases! In fact, prepandemic
numbers from some of the larger states showed that Central
Registries might receive in excess of 10,000 cases per year.
Not only must the cases be reviewed for accuracy and completeness, they
must be done so within a very limited timeframe, just 10 working days. Plus
the review process is very detailed. CFR §303.7(b)(2)(i – iv). (2) Within 10
working days of receipt of an intergovernmental IV-D case, the central
(i) Ensure that the documentation submitted with the case has been
reviewed to determine completeness;
(ii) Forward the case for necessary action either to the central State
Parent Locator Service for location services or to the appropriate agency
(iii) Acknowledge receipt of the case and request any missing
(iv) Inform the initiating agency where the case was sent for action.
The next task is somewhat gray. What happens if a case is incomplete,
lacking the required UIFSA forms to complete a tribunal filing? The
regulations state: §303.7(b)(3) If the documentation received with a case is
incomplete and cannot be remedied by the central registry without the
assistance of the initiating agency, the central registry must forward the
case for any action that can be taken pending necessary action by the
The gray area is what the Central Registry should do if there is no action
that can be taken without the required documentation, which is generally
the case. Although there is a difference of opinion here, and the actions
vary from Central Registry to Central Registry, many such units hold onto
these incomplete cases pending receipt of the required documents. After
all, what is the logic behind sending a case into court for establishment of a
child support order if the Uniform Support Petition or General Testimony is
missing? How can a tribunal register a foreign order without a certified
copy? Simply put, they can’t. So this author’s recommendation has always
been for the Central Registry to hold onto such cases pending receipt of
the required documents.
Note the word “required” in the previous sentence. If the pending document
is not a mandatory UIFSA form, or some other item required by state law
(i.e., a certified copy of the order to be registered, as per UIFSA
§602(a)(2)), then the case should not be held at the Central Registry. But if
there is literally no action that can be taken by the responding agency
without certain information there is no logic to sending the case forward.
Local county child support agencies have enough on their plates that they
should not have to deal with cases where they are unable to take any
follow-up actions. This is more the role of the Central Registry.
Federal case closure criteria come into play here as well. Per CFR
§303.11(b)(17) Case closure criteria, (17) The responding agency
documents failure by the initiating agency to take an action that is essential
for the next step in providing services. The timeframes are very exact and
spelled out. Per §303.7(c)(6) Initiating State IV-D agency responsibilities. 6)
Within 30 calendar days of receipt of the request for information, provide
the responding agency with an updated intergovernmental form and any
necessary additional documentation, or notify the responding agency when
the information will be provided. This means that if the initiating jurisdiction
does not forward the requested documents, the responding state’s Central
Registry may begin the case closure process. §303.11(d)(2) In an
intergovernmental case meeting the criteria for closure under paragraph
(b)(17) of this section, the responding State must notify the initiating
agency, in a record, 60 calendar days prior to closure of the case of the
State's intent to close the case.
What all of this amounts to is that the Central Registry may close its case if
mandatory documentation is not received within appropriate timeframes
following a request to the initiating jurisdiction, and this initial request must
be made within 10 working days of receipt of a case. The general
consensus is that, since there is no action that can be taken without the
required forms, there is no logic for forwarding an incomplete case. Again,
there is some debate about this, as there are some that interpret the
regulations to say that all cases must be forwarded within 10 working days
after receipt by the Central Registry regardless of whether the
documentation is complete or not. This author maintains that on those
cases where there is literally no action that can be taken without certain
documentation, these cases should not be forwarded to a local county child
support office where they would do nothing more than sit idly in a file
cabinet while awaiting the follow-up mandatory paperwork.
Still, since the required documents are received over 90% of the time on
appropriate case referrals (see the statistics below), the overwhelming
majority of cases that are reviewed by the Central Registry are either
complete upon receipt, or are made complete due to follow-up
communication with the initiating jurisdiction. Even incomplete returned
cases can be corrected and made complete, and then sent back to the
appropriate Central Registry for eventual processing. Let’s look at some
recent numbers which the New York Central Registry was kind enough to
provide specifically for this article.
Total Number of Cases
(Note the huge drop in 2020 due to the pandemic!)
Initial Cases Lacking Complete
2018 1,271 (15.2%)
2019 1,140 (13.2%)
2020 492 (10.6%)
(Note: In 2018 the Child Support Agency Confidential Information Form
was still relatively new, and many local county child support agencies did
not yet know that this form is required for all new outgoing interstate cases.
Hence the larger percentage of initial incomplete cases.)
Initial Cases Lacking Complete Documentation Over a 3 Year Period
Cases Lacking Complete Documentation
Cases Containing Complete Documentation
Incomplete Cases that Eventually Received the Missing
2018 590 (46.4%)
2019 642 (56.3%)
2020 224 (45.5%)
Final Disposition of Initially Incomplete Cases Over a 3
Complete Documentation Eventually Received
Complete Documentation Never Received
Total Percentage by Case Disposition
2018 7095 (84.6%) 681 (8.1%) 612 (7.3%)
2019 7624 (88.1%) 498 (5.8%) 531 (6.1%)
2020 4042 (86.8%) 268 (5.8%) 347 (7.5%)
Total Percentage by Case Disposition Over a 3 Year
Case Completed Case Returned Case Inappropriate
Total Percentage by Case Disposition for
Appropriate Cases Only
Case Completed Case Returned
2018 7095 (91.2%) 681 (8.8%)
2019 7624 (93.9%) 498 (6.1%)
2020 4042 (93.8%) 268 (6.2%)
Total Percentage by Case Disposition for
Appropriate Cases Only Over a 3 Year Period
* All statistics were provided by the New York Central Registry, New York
State Division of Child Support Services, along with their permission to
include same in this article.
In and of itself, the processing of incoming intergovernmental cases would
be a huge undertaking, but Central Registries are federally mandated to
perform one additional task. §303.7(b)(4) The central registry must respond
to inquiries from initiating agencies within 5 working days of receipt of the
request for a case status review. You know all of those times when you are
working an interstate case and you can’t seem to obtain any status
information from the other state? Well, help is on the way! After performing
due diligence in attempting to obtain case status information from the
appropriate local county child support office, or possibly from a regional
office, the next step would be to contact the Central Registry in the
responding state for assistance. Contact information for all Central
Registries can be found on the federal Office of Child Support
Enforcement’s Intergovernmental Reference Guide, the IRG. Such contact
can be made via e-mail, telephone, fax, or written letter (although why an
agency would use the last two options is really bizarre – send an e-mail or
call!). Central Registries are experts at tracking down the appropriate office
or caseworker within their own state and following up to make sure a
response is sent. The Central Registries are perhaps the main tool for
assistance whenever there is a breakdown in communications on an
intergovernmental child support case.
Need even more reasons to love those Central Registries? Well, there are
a bunch of them. The author has only listed the federally mandated tasks
that all Central Registries must perform. That being said, they pretty much
all do many other things as well. Most of them assist their own in-state child
support workers when dealing with an unresponsive agency in another
jurisdiction. Many of them contain expert staff when dealing with
complicated UIFSA issues. More conduct many other functions as well; just
ask them and it’s a certainty they would be happy to list all the tasks they
routinely take care of. And they really do try their very best to assist with
any intergovernmental questions or issues you might have.
So if you’re seeking the unsung heroes of the IV-D program nationwide,
look no further than the state/territory Central Registry offices. And it
wouldn’t hurt to add a ‘thank you’; they would certainly appreciate that!
Rob Velcoff is an independent child support consultant with his own agency,
Intergovernmental Support Services. Previously, he worked for the New York State
Division of Child Support Services for over 30 years. He served as President of the
Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support Association (ERICSA), and is a recipient of
their Felix Infausto Award (President’s Award). Mr. Velcoff has presented at hundreds of
workshops at more than 100 state, regional, federal, national, and even international
child support conferences on a wide range of topics. An individual member of NCSEA,
Mr. Velcoff received a BS in Criminal Justice from the State University College of New
York at Brockport and an MA in Criminal Justice from the State University of New York
Establishments of Parentage: A
Survey of the Early Adopters
by David Love, Mississippi Project, Young Williams
The Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage (VAP) 1 is a document that
parents use to legally establish the parentage of a child without the need
for a court order. Traditionally, heterosexual parents use this form to
establish the paternity of a child born out of wedlock.
With the advent of the United State Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell
v. Hodges, 2 the law of the land guaranteed same-sex couples the legal
right to marry; however, unmarried same-sex couples still face additional
obstacles as most states’ VAPs still use the gender-specific “mother,”
“father,” and “paternity” terminology.
This practice is beginning to change. Eight states have adopted genderneutral
VAPs. These forms contain language that removes any reference to
the gender of the parent, thereby allowing same-sex couples to use the
forms to establish parentage. Gender-neutral language is often used to
establish the parentage of children born through assisted reproduction or
surrogacy. In these situations, the use of a VAP eliminates the need to
undertake a time-consuming and expensive co-parent adoption process to
establish legal parentage.
The Emerging Issues and Leading Practices Subcommittee of the NCSEA
Policy and Government Relations Committee sent a survey to the eight
state IV-D agencies, and seven provided responses. 3 The chart below
shows the states that have adopted gender-neutral VAPs, the year of each
state’s implementation, and whether the revisions were part of adopting the
Uniform Parentage Act 2017 (UPA). The chart also includes links to state-
While these documents are not designated as VAPs in every state, this article uses the term to
apply to all states’ acknowledgments of parentage forms.
576 U.S. 644 (2015).
Nevada did not participate in the srvey.
specific statutory provisions creating the gender-neutral VAP, and links to
the VAP forms in English and Spanish.
California 2020 Yes 4
Maryland 2019 No
CA Fam Code §§
MD Code Family
Law § 5–1028
Massachusetts 2018 No None ENG
Nevada 2017 NRS 126.053 ENG
New York 2021 No PBH § 4135-B ENG
Rhode Island 2021 Yes 5 R.I. Gen. Laws §
Vermont 2018 Yes 6 15C V.S.A. § 301 ENG
Washington 2019 No RCW 26.26A.205
Differences between Gender-Neutral VAP and Traditional VAP
The most notable characteristics shared by each of the forms are the
replacement of the term “paternity” with “parentage” and the removal of
mandatory references to the parents’ gender. This allows same-sex
couples to be signatories.
Five of the gender-neutral VAPs use terminology that distinguishes the
birth parent. 7 The remaining three do not make such a distinction and
instead simply use the term “parent.” Each of the surveyed states also
chose to use a single form. The survey responses indicate this decision
was driven by a desire for simplicity and the equal treatment of all parents. 8
California’s revision of the VAP was part of the adoption of the UPA 2017; however, there was not a full
replace and repeal of the paternity statutes as some of the provisions in the UPA 2017 were already
Rhode Island adopted a combination of the UPA 2017 and the Vermont Parentage Act.
Vermont adopted a modified version of the UPA.
California, Maryland, New York, Vermont, and Washington require that one of the signatories be the
Massachusetts’ initial gender-neutral VAP was one of two forms. The dual forms were necessary due to
initial state system limitations. A single gender-neutral form was implemented in 2019.
Six of the VAPs do not contain language to identify gender of the non-birth
parent. However, both California and New York require the “other parent” to
indicate whether they are the biological father of the child. Both states
indicated this question was included only for statistical purposes. 9
Massachusetts’ VAP requires notarization, and two additional states
require the use of a notary under certain circumstances; however, the
remaining forms no longer contain language requiring notarization. 10 New
York requires two witnesses who are not related to either parent, but the
remaining states only require a single witness.
Three states use a Denial of Parentage form. 11 These documents allow a
presumed or biological parent to release any parental claim to the child. By
completing the denial, the signatory is discharged of all parental rights and
duties. However, the denials must be completed in conjunction with a
properly executed VAP containing the signatures of two parents. The use
of these forms allows these states greater flexibility in situations involving
assisted reproduction and surrogacy.
Processes and Stakeholders Involved in the Creation of Gender-
All the surveyed states except Massachusetts 12 required legislative action
to create a revised VAP. For California, Rhode Island, and Vermont, this
was part of the adoption (in part or in whole) of the 2017 version of the
UPA. In Maryland and New York, the legislative changes addressed the
need for the legal establishment of parentage for those who use assisted
reproduction technologies. In Washington, one goal of the legislation was
to align Department of Health policies with those of the Department of
California indicated it included the question for statistical reporting of the usage by same-sex couples,
while New York indicated it included the question for the purposes of determining eligibility of the current
federal Paternity Establishment Percentage (PEP) performance measure. Rhode Island indicated it also
asks the gender of each parent for statistical purposes, but that designation is not reflected within the
language of its VAP.
Maryland’s VAP requires notarization unless signed by a staff member of the hospital, IV-D office, or
Health Department. California requires notarization if the VAP is signed outside of California or outside of
a hospital, prenatal clinic, or authorized agency.
Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington allow the use of denial forms.
The impetus to revise the existing VAP was the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in
Partanen v. Gallagher, 59 N.E.3d 1133 (Mass. 2016).
The Washington Department of Licensing updated its polices to include gender-neutral licenses and
state identification cards.
As is common with legislative change, revising the VAPs was not swiftly
accomplished in all states. In Rhode Island, legislation had to be introduced
three consecutive years before it passed. In Vermont, the first workgroup to
study the issue was convened in 2014, and the necessary legislation was
not passed until 2018. 14 Other states adopted the revisions more quickly. In
Maryland, the legislation passed in the first year it was introduced.
Massachusetts adopted the revisions within a year and a half after the
state’s Supreme Judicial Court suggested that same sex couples could
establish parentage by signing a VAP.
To implement these revisions to the VAPs, each state’s IV-D agency
consulted with a collection of governmental agencies. In every surveyed
state, this manifested at a minimum as a partnership between the state’s
IV-D agency and the Department of Health/Vital Records. 15 The states
indicated there was extensive collaboration to ensure that both agencies
would accept the revisions. Training was also an important part of this
cooperation. Vermont worked closely with its Department of Health to
develop training materials and brochures for the new forms, while New
York developed, coordinated, and hosted trainings for hospital staff in
conjunction with its Department of Health. Some states created a larger
coalition which included the courts, the private bar, medical providers, other
state agencies, advocacy groups, and legislators. 16
Challenges in Creating a Gender-Neutral VAP
Most surveyed states indicated that the major challenge to establishing a
gender-neutral VAP was creating a single form for multiple factual
situations that would address complex legal concepts while keeping the
format concise, user-friendly, and easily understandable. To avoid gender
identification complexities, California chose to ask whether a birth parent is
married and whether the other parent is the only possible genetic parent.
Vermont uses the terms “birth parent” and “parent,” but acknowledges this
terminology may lead to confusion.
The 2014 workgroup’s recommendation was that a statutory change was necessary. In 2017, the state
legislature commissioned a subsequent workgroup, that recommended the passage of the Vermont
Parentage Act, a modified version of the UPA. The legislation was introduced and passed in 2018.
Rhode Island and Washington both listed these two entities as being the only agencies involved in the
California created a large-scale workgroup within the IV-D agency that consulted with its Department of
Health, the courts and advocacy groups. Vermont’s legislative workgroup included representatives from
the courts, the private bar, legislatures, medical providers, Family Services, and the IV-D agency. New
York consulted with its Department of Health, the New York City Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene, and its state IV-E agency.
States also focused on inclusive language, demonstrated with the form’s
neutral terminology. 17 In addition to the form itself, states indicated that the
language revisions often increased the length and complexity of the
All the responding states answered that there have been no legal
challenges to the validity or use of the gender-neutral VAP. 18
Services Provided to Same-Sex Couples
All surveyed states answered that they provide full parentage
establishment services to same-sex couples. This includes filing parentage
complaints when a VAP was not signed or cannot be signed. 19 All
responding states indicated that, with an open IV-D case, they provide the
same services for establishment and enforcement of support to same-sex
couples as they do different-sex couples.
Based upon the survey results, implementation of gender-neutral VAPs has
been quite successful. Most of the states would not make any adjustments
to the current VAP process. Rhode Island and Washington commented
that removing the notarized signature requirement is what they like best
about their form.
Several states have acknowledged that the current VAP forms and
processes are not perfect. California indicated the instructions are too
complicated and would ideally prefer to reduce the complexity of the
process, while acknowledging that is likely not possible without the use of
multiple forms. Vermont echoed that assessment and expressed concern
about how the overall complexity of the process places a large burden
upon the signatories; however, Vermont concluded that additional revisions
to the VAP would not lessen that burden. Vermont also noted that its
requirement that signatories initial multiple statements creates a higher
likelihood that the form will not be correctly completed. Rhode Island would
California uses the term “person who gave birth” rather than the UPA term “woman who gave birth” and
allows parents to identify as male, female, or nonbinary. New York noted difficulty in translating the form
as the Spanish word for “parent” is not gender neutral.
Washington commented that there were objecting organizations and individuals while Senate Bill 6037
was moving through the legislature, but once the law was passed, there have been no challenges.
Massachusetts specifically indicated it would assist same-sex couples who file an application with the
establishment of parentage through judicial action. Vermont noted that, while its VAP can be used only by
same-sex couples who are married or by a party to assisted reproductive technologies or a gestational
carrier agreement, it would pursue other judicial avenues for the establishment of parentage in other
have redesigned the form so that the Notice of Rights and Responsibilities
is on the back of the VAP.
Number of Gender-Neutral VAPs Used for Same-Sex Couples
There is little data on the usage of VAPs by same-sex couples. This is due
to the relatively recent implementation in most states coupled with the
forms’ design, which often solicits no information regarding the gender of
the signatories. Two states have provided data: in California from January
2020 through March 2021, over 1,000 same-sex VAPs were executed, and
in Massachusetts since 2018, 67 same-sex couples completed a VAP. 20
NCSEA will post the survey questions and responses for members to view
on the Emerging Issues and Leading Practices page of the NCSEA
website. The resources linked to this article are offered to any state or
territory considering the implementation of a gender-neutral VAP. The
experiences of the surveyed states indicate revisions to existing VAPs are
not easily accomplished. According to these states, the VAP changes will
require legislative and/or judicial action but do not necessarily require
adoption of UPA 2017. Additionally, IV-D agencies need to build a coalition
of support including multiple governmental agencies, stakeholders, and
advocacy groups to create a document that properly addresses the needs
of all seeking to establish parentage.
David Love recently joined YoungWilliams as the Assistant Legal Director for the
Mississippi Project after working as an attorney for the Mississippi Department of
Human Services for more than two decades. Before retiring from MDHS, David served
as a Deputy Director. In that role, he led the policy and systems support liaison teams.
David earned his juris doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1996
and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Mississippi State in 1993.
California and Massachusetts statistics were provided May 5, 2021, and March 19, 2021, respectively.
Motivational Interviewing Introduction
by Stacey Riley, Senior Child Support Specialist, Michigan
Office of Child Support
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a meaningful, collaborative conversation
that allows staff to engage customers on a deeper level and strengthen
individuals’ motivation to change. MI is an empathetic and practical
approach to reduce customer ambivalence, placing responsibility on
customers by giving them ownership of their actions and success.
More than two years ago, the Michigan Office of Child Support (OCS), a
bureau of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
(MDHHS), began researching the strengths and benefits of MI, and
exploring how it could improve customer cooperation with the child support
program to ensure assistance benefits remain open at the appropriate
level. With the use of MI, OCS had high hopes of reducing the number of
cases in noncooperation, while treating all customers fairly to achieve a
OCS created and successfully launched a pilot group in September 2019.
This small group of child support specialists logged hundreds of cases and
used MI methods when calling these customers. Of the cases that began in
noncooperation, 80% returned to cooperative status by the end of the call.
Specialists reported they felt less stress on 97% of the MI calls. Due to the
COVID-19 pandemic, the rollout of MI was delayed, but OCS is happy to
announce that, as of the end of May 2021, more than 100 staff have been
trained on MI.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at MDHHS
While researching and learning more about MI, it became apparent that
there was a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) component to this
approach. The child support program is comprised of people of all races,
sexual orientations, socio-economic statuses, religions, and so on. MDHHS
continuously seeks methods to improve the lives of Michigan families by
finding ways to reduce and prevent risks, promote equity, foster healthy
habits, and transform the health and human services system (MDHHS,
2019). To achieve this, the department needs to ensure its employees
understand the power of health and social inequities, are aware of the
communities at greater risk for experiencing inequities, and work together
to create effective strategies for promoting equity (MDHHS, 2019).
In 2018, MDHHS proposed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan
(MDHHS, 2018) with the following mission statement:
To promote and foster a culture that values diversity, equity,
and inclusion throughout the Michigan Department of Health
and Human Services and the diverse communities we serve in
order to achieve our highest potential. (MDHHS, 2018, p. 1)
The plan’s vision statement asserts:
Diversity, as reflected in our leadership and throughout our
workforce, offers a valuable range of experiences and
perspectives. Our diverse workforce will be an essential asset
for developing and providing health and human services that
are culturally proficient to address existing and emerging health
and social issues. (MDHHS, 2018, p. 1)
MDHHS created a proposal to exemplify the values of diversity,
equity, and inclusion (DEI) while aligning with MDHHS’s strategic
priority. The department felt this step was “necessary to improve
outcomes for employees, communities, stakeholders, and customers
by addressing inequities at a systemic level” (MDHHS, 2018, p. 3). In
addition to the internal improvements DEI would create for MDHHS,
the department anticipated that DEI would also improve relationships
between employees and the people they serve. In 2019, MDHHS
implemented its Mandatory Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training
Policy (APB 2019-037) to reduce inequalities and improve the lives of
Michigan’s citizens (MDHHS, 2019).
Achieving DEI through MI
There is a legacy of inequity in the world, and state government has not
escaped this problem. Fighting against these injustices can seem
overwhelming. It takes more than individual action to enact change.
Motivational interviewing will help ensure OCS customers are viewed as
unique individuals and treated fairly and equally, regardless of their
differences, by creating more consistent interviewing processes and
allowing customers to direct their own outcomes. Allowing customers to
lead conversations through the use of MI will limit implicit bias. Often called
unconscious bias, implicit biases are thoughts, attitudes, and stereotypes
that manifest as a result of one’s environment, culture, and even the media,
without the individual realizing the biases are occurring (Ruhl, 2020). These
biases are typically related to race, gender, and sexuality, although there
are additional categories (Ruhl, 2020). Implicit bias differs from the more
familiar explicit bias, which presents as conscious acknowledgment and
expression of discrimination and unfair treatment of others (Maxfield,
Thorpe, Koontz, & Grimm, 2021). While both implicit and explicit biases can
change the way an individual shapes his or her decisions, explicit bias
involves more malice because the individual is aware of his or her
discriminatory behavior and yet continues to act accordingly (Daumeyer,
Onyeador, Brown, & Richeson, 2019).
Implicit bias causes discrimination even when the individual is unaware it is
happening. Implicit bias may pollute decision-making and cause impulsive
negative reactions, which are often undetectable because they are
unconscious and difficult to measure (Mitchell, 2018). Implicit bias can be
powerful enough to influence the decisions a child support specialist makes
(Mitchell, 2018) for a customer. This is why it is best to remove decisionmaking
responsibility from the specialist and place it back onto the
customer, using MI methods. Implicit bias can elicit a visceral reaction and
can be harmful; however, it can be managed through self-awareness
(Maxfield, Thorpe, Koontz, & Grimm, 2021). Studies show that, where
implicit bias is present, accountability decreases because of the
unconscious nature of the bias and unintentional discrimination (Daumeyer
et al., 2019). Trainings and policies addressing implicit bias and the
consequences of discrimination are beneficial in the reduction of implicit
bias over time (Daumeyer et al., 2019).
The goal of MI is to support the customer’s freedom of choice, while
keeping the child support specialist’s personal feelings and experiences out
of the conversation. One of the four key elements in the spirit of MI is
evocation. Evocation involves eliciting the customer’s ideas and solutions,
which is advantageous to the outcome because the customer knows best
his or her own motivation for, and obstacles hindering, change. MI helps
staff avoid communication traps such as taking sides, labeling, blaming,
interrogating, giving unsolicited advice, or setting goals the customer is
unable to achieve. These communication traps can also lead to or be
caused by implicit bias or discrimination.
Many child support customers are socially and economically
disadvantaged. Cooperation with the child support program is critical to
these families’ financial survival. Introducing motivational interviewing skills
into the child support program helps families lead their own changes and
reduces implicit bias, discrimination, and otherwise unfair and unequal
treatment. Moving responsibility for the outcome of child support cases
from staff to customers and allowing customers to lead the conversations
removes unintended discrimination and behaviors. It is important to
remember that, while the specialist brings child support expertise to the
conversation, the customer is the expert on what is best for himself or
herself. Only the customer knows the history and circumstances that
brought him or her to this moment.
The use of motivational interviewing, in combination with existing
MDHHS policy and mandatory training, will help enact change and combat
racism and other disparities throughout the department. Understanding
implicit bias and training staff to recognize it will reduce unintentional
discrimination that can occur as a result of these unconscious thoughts and
Daumeyer, N. M., Onyeador, I. N., Brown, X., & Richeson, J. A. (2019).
Consequences of attributing discrimination to implicit vs. explicit
bias. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 84, 103812.
Maxfield, C., Thorpe, M., Koontz, N., & Grimm, L. (2021). You’re Biased!
Deal With It. Journal of the American College of Radiology, 18(1), 161–165.
MDHHS. (2018). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan.
d_Inclusion_Plan_649033_7.pdf MDHHS. (2019).
Mitchell, G. (2018). An implicit bias primer. Virginia Journal of Social Policy
& the Law, 25, 27–59. http://vjspl.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Mitchell-
Ruhl, C. (2020). Implicit or unconscious bias. Simply Psychology.
Stacey Riley is a Senior Child Support Specialist for the Michigan Office of Child
Support (OCS), where she has served for the last 7 years. She was previously an
Eligibility Specialist for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Stacey
began researching Motivational Interviewing (MI) 2.5 years ago for OCS, and it carried
over into her master’s degree journey at Central Michigan University, providing her with
the opportunity to expand on ideas and knowledge to bring back to OCS. Stacey, joined
by co-lead, Lawrence White, pioneered MI within the OCS along with a small group of
Support Specialists (Kristin Bejarano, Mary Duddles-Smith, LaTresa Eason-Worthy,
Mary Jo Neirink, and Antoinette Wilder), all of whom she would like to thank for their
contributions to the effort. Stacey looks forward to seeing MI expand and grow across
the entire Michigan Child Support Program. Stacey holds a Bachelor of Science in
Psychology and a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in Project
NCSEA Needs Your Input for the
NCSEA Research Website
by Austin Holik, Terri Jones, Ryann Levering-White
and Jane Venohr
The NCSEA Research Subcommittee is reviewing research relevant to the
child support program and working to make this information easily
accessible. The Research Topics section of the NCSEA website houses a
significant amount of valuable research, but we need your input to make it
better. To keep the website viable and relevant, we ask the child support
community to complete this brief survey as soon as you can. The survey
will close on August 15 th .
Our goal is to provide a one-stop place for NCSEA members and those
exploring the NCSEA website to find recent studies, basic child support
statistics, and research informing child support policy and operations. If you
are not a regular user of the website, we encourage you to check it out and
provide your feedback. Keep reading to learn more about what the website
currently has to offer.
The NCSEA Research Corner contains publications organized into seven
broad categories. Click https://www.ncsea.org/resources-info/research/
and save the link in your favorites for quick access.
Child Support Caseloads
Publications include summaries of caseload and
demographics from U.S. Census data, federal Office of
Child Support Enforcement data, and other large databases.
Financial Support and
Ability to Pay
Publications on parents’ ability to contribute financially to
their children’s well-being, materials regarding earnings,
factors associated with support payment or nonpayment,
parent work programs, impacts of large arrearages, and
other related topics.
Parental Engagement and
Intersection of Child Support
with Other Family-Focused
Publications on parents’ ability to contribute to their children’s
emotional and psychological well-being. This includes
materials regarding custody, parenting time, healthy parenting,
benefits of fatherhood, two-parent cooperation, and other
Publications that provide insight into how local, state,
and/or federal programs impact family well-being and
Child Support Operations
Publications that pertain to child support operations and
the administration of the child support program. This
includes publications on performance and program
Child Child Support Guidelines
Reports from state child support guidelines
Other Websites with
Additional and Related
Links to websites with research relevant to
The Research Corner was produced through the collaborative efforts of
NCSEA’s all-volunteer Research Subcommittee and NCSEA leadership
and staff. Other current activities include drafting a research brief on
modifications, identifying administrative data fields that could be pooled
across states and tribunals for the purpose of researching child support
issues, and developing strategies to encourage research organizations to
produce research and surveys informing child support policies and
practices. We welcome your input on any of these activities. Please provide
your suggestions by answering the last question of the survey.
Austin, Terri, Ryann, and Jane are part of a workgroup within the NCSEA Research
Subcommittee dedicated to improving the research links for the NCSEA community.
Austin Holik is a Human Services Program Specialist with the Minnesota Child Support
Division in Saint Paul.
Terri Jones is the Central Registry Manager for the Division of Child Support Services of
the Georgia Department of Human Services.
Ryann Levering-White is the Senior Policy Analyst with the Ohio CSEA Directors’
Association (OCDA) in Columbus, Ohio.
Jane Venohr is a research associate/economist with the Center for Policy Research in
NCSEA 2021 Leadership Symposium:
by Ashley Dexter & Charles Smith
Co-chairs, Leadership Symposium
NCSEA’s 2021 Leadership Symposium will be held IN PERSON August 1
– 4 at the Austin Marriott Downtown in Austin, TX. The venue is centrally
located to many of downtown Austin’s sights, restaurants, and nightlife.
Austin is a vibrant top-tier city, with a charm uniquely its own. In Austin, you
can hike or bike around Lady Bird Lake, rent a canoe, or fish from the
shore. Whether you are a shopper, foodie, or enjoy the nightlife, Austin
yields an abundance of shops, restaurants, and musical venues to satisfy
every craving, all within downtown walking distance.
The theme for this year’s symposium is Think Forward. The past 15 months
brought uncharted territory for everyone in the program, and things
continue to evolve daily. As leaders, we need to lead ourselves, our teams,
and the child support community forward. The planning committee
reviewed all your wonderful proposal submissions and put together
innovative workshops aimed at helping all of us “think forward” by
continuing to grow in the child support program through vision and a
This year’s symposium continues with the focus on leadership in the child
support community. Attendees will find a variety of plenaries, workshops,
and hands-on learning labs that will address leadership, child support
program improvements and innovations, technology, and diversity, equity,
and inclusion. Be on the lookout for surveys prior to the conference that will
be used in conjunction with a couple of the workshops or learning labs. The
information you supply upfront will further enhance the robust, interactive
conversations that we look forward to having with you at the Leadership
The symposium kicks off Sunday evening with the Welcome Reception at
5:30 p.m. CST and continues Monday morning with breakfast and Plenary
I: Leading with the Heart. You will not want to miss this! Monday afternoon,
we continue exploring the human side of our work, how it impacts our
personal lives, and the mental health and emotional vulnerabilities exposed
during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also offer three opportunities to
participate in learning labs, as well as other great breakout workshops
during the morning and afternoon.
Tuesday kicks off with another must-see plenary, where we will hear from
fathers about their experiences with the child support program. These
fathers’ perspectives can help lead us forward to better collaborate and
engage fathers in our daily work. In the afternoon, several IV-D directors
from around the country will share their thoughts and recommendations on
what may become the “new normal” in the child support program. Tuesday
includes three more learning lab opportunities and several breakout
workshops with varying focuses.
Wednesday includes two morning plenaries that will dive deeper into
conversations about the future of the child support program based on
current legislation, global trends, and the human side of change that we
need to consider as we chart the future.
Lastly, we are excited to discuss the networking opportunities at this
symposium. Ninety-eight percent of past attendees said networking was
their primary reason for attending. From the moment the reception begins
on Sunday, we have incorporated opportunities for you to network with your
peers, colleagues, and the vendors sponsoring our symposium. There will
be a Welcome Reception Sunday, a President’s Reception Monday, and
opportunities for vendor showcases built into the schedule.
We are excited that the symposium creates the opportunity to come
together, learn, establish new connections, and renew old friendships. As
Austin is a city on the move, we cannot think of a better place to support
this year’s focus of “Think Forward.” We look forward to seeing y‘all in
Ashley Dexter is a Specialist Senior with Deloitte Consulting LLC. She has served on
the NCSEA Board of Directors and as the Leadership Symposium Planning Committee
Co-Chair for the past 3 years.
Charles Smith is the President/CEO for Charles R. Smith Consulting, a company he
created in June 2018 after retiring from Texas state government in May 2018 with more
than thirty years of credited service. He serves on the NCSEA Board of Directors and
co-chairs the 2021 Leadership Symposium.
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
Laura Van Buskirk- Class 2016
Placer County Department of Child Support Services
Since attending NCSEA U, what opportunities (personal and professional) have you experienced?
Since attending NCSEA U, I now co-chair an NCSEA subcommittee, co-facilitate an NCSEA affinity group,
and am honored to serve on several NCSEA committees. Through NCSEA U and the opportunities that
bring NCSEA U alumni together, I have forged lifelong friendships and important professional alliances. A
year ago, I achieved a lifelong dream to move to California, where I have the distinct privilege of serving as
director of one of the state's 47 regional and county child support agencies. I truly believe realizing this
dream would not have happened without the "NCSEA U boost." Attending NCSEA U helped me form closeknit
relationships with other leaders, which boosted my confidence, enlarged my vision, and emboldened
me to go after my dreams.
Why would you recommend NCSEA U to others? If you want to move into a position of leadership or
dramatically enhance your leadership abilities, attending NCSEA U is the single most important step you
What is a key leadership attribute that you appreciate in others? Why? Humility - because all the other
virtues of leadership stem from it. Leadership is not about the leader. It's about the team whom the leader
serves. Truly inspirational leaders are not in it for themselves. They understand that this position of
leadership is a tremendous responsibility - an obligation to help their team be the best every day.
Jonell Sullivan-Class 2019
Arizona Department of Economic Security
Organizational Enhancement Manager
Most valuable aspect of the NCSEA U experience? Hearing the instructors explain the topics through
their life experiences. Interacting with peers from all across the United States.
NCSEA U @ Leadership Symposium focuses on the emerging and learning leader. How do you
define leadership? Leadership to me is helping grow and inspire people who are within my circle to be the
very best they can be. A leader wants to motivate, inspire and promote energy to their team. Leadership
needs to have a bit of humor and we should not take ourselves too serious.
Do you believe that attending NCSEA U helped shaped this definition? How or how not?
NCSEA U absolutely helped me grow as a leader. Hearing lecture and then doing practical examples really
provided some additional tools to develop leaders. Being able to hear other opinions expanded my
knowledge and provided different options.
Leon Fernando – Class of 2016
Alameda County Child Support Services
Community Relations Manager
What was your course curriculum/theme? Great Ideas - From Concept to Completion. The curriculum
focused on the leader's role in supporting innovation and creativity, developing and getting buy-in for great
ideas, and putting them into action. We looked at everything from decision-making models and project
planning, to considerations for networking and successfully advocating for support from key stakeholders,
and how to deal with obstacles and setbacks successfully.
Since attending NCSEA U, what opportunities (personal and professional) have you experienced?
NCSEA U opened up my perspective on the child support program. I was able to take that new perspective
with me into my work in engaging the public, other child support organizations, and other service agencies. I
learned to see the program from the outside to understand what our participants and key stakeholders
need, and this in turn has led to the development of better service delivery, more productive community
partnerships, and better outcomes for the families we serve.
Do you believe that attending NCSEA U helped shaped this definition? This one is from Abraham
Lincoln “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” It's a reminder to me
that my position doesn't make me a leader; its what I say and the actions that I take that cause other people
to follow my lead. Leading an organization means advancing its aims, and also supporting the people who
do the work of the organization.