January 2022 CSQ

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Table of Contents<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

Executive Director’s Message……………………………………………………….… 3<br />

Community Corner: PEP Pressure in a Pandemic Environment…………….………..5<br />

NCSEA <strong>2022</strong> Policy Forum Preview…………………………………………….…........7<br />

A Guided Tour of IV-D Videos and Live Interaction…………………………….……..10<br />

Intergovernmental Hot Topics …………………………………………………………..19<br />

NCSEA U Spotlight……………………………………………………………………….27<br />

Don’t Stand Up If You’re Not Wearing Pants……………………………………….....29

Ann Marie Ruskin<br />

NCSEA Executive Director<br />

As 2021 came to a close, I was determined to focus post-pandemic,<br />

looking beyond the limitations and challenges we have lived for almost<br />

two years. But alas, here we are dealing with the new omicron variant,<br />

and again we are adjusting to current conditions. I am very pleased that<br />

NCSEA will be in-person in Washington, D.C. next month for the Policy<br />

Forum. We have missed opportunities to exchange and interact in<br />

person. So much of our conference experience is engagement with<br />

others outside the scheduled agenda—over breakfast, catching a snack<br />

during a break, a chance meeting waiting for the elevator, or having a<br />

drink at the bar in the evening. It is those spontaneous interactions that<br />

allow us to expand our professional network, meet new colleagues, and<br />

learn more about other State, County, and Tribal programs.<br />

While we’ve missed the in-person events, the pandemic has also<br />

required us to think outside the box, rethinking how we engage our<br />

members, share content, and interact virtually. With that in mind,<br />

NCSEA introduced new initiatives such as the Idea Exchange,<br />

expanded current programs such as NCSEA Connects, and introduced<br />

virtual conference options. The upcoming Policy Forum is an example of<br />

the new opportunity, providing a virtual and in-person option for<br />

attendees. It’s the first time we are offering live streaming in addition to<br />

the live, in-person event, and is introducing a new audience to the<br />

Policy Forum, a unique conference. If you are not able to join us in<br />

person in Washington, D.C., please consider virtual attendance.<br />

Sessions will be live, and recordings posted shortly after the session.

In addition to the Policy Forum, we hope you will take advantage of our<br />

extensive Web-Talk schedule, NCSEA Connects meet-ups for specific<br />

categories of child support professionals, Idea Exchanges, and of<br />

course, the <strong>2022</strong> Leadership Symposium, to be held in August in<br />

Charlotte, North Carolina. We are proud to offer a variety of events and<br />

programs designed to enhance your professional development and<br />

networking and provide important services to the child support<br />

community.<br />

As <strong>2022</strong> begins, we wish all our members and families a very happy<br />

and healthy new year. It is a pleasure working with all of you.<br />

Ann Marie Ruskin has served as NCSEA’s Executive Director since <strong>January</strong>, 2018.<br />

She first joined NCSEA in 2010, leading professional development and programs.

PEP Pressure in a Pandemic<br />

Environment<br />

by John Hurst, Georgia Division of<br />

Child Support Services<br />

At 11:59:59 p.m. on September 30, 2020, Federal Fiscal Year 2020 (FFY<br />

2020) ended. In the child support community, this date marks the end of<br />

the reporting period for annual performance. Normally this is a routine<br />

event for states; however, not much about FFY 2020 was routine due to the<br />

onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.<br />

For many states that typically perform well in paternity establishment<br />

percentage (PEP), the restrictions to in-person activities brought on by the<br />

pandemic resulted in states not reaching the 90% federal benchmark for<br />

this performance requirement. In Georgia, we finished FFY 2020 with an<br />

84.11% PEP, which meant we needed to finish FFY 2021 at 86.11% or<br />

higher to avoid a 1% to 2% penalty to our TANF block grant.<br />

I had two major challenges awaiting me when I became Georgia’s IV-D<br />

director in December 2020: the ongoing pandemic and the potential penalty<br />

if we did not improve our PEP by at least 2% in FFY 2021. Our agency was<br />

very responsive at the onset of the pandemic and had implemented<br />

temporary operating procedures that enabled us to continue to provide<br />

services while keeping our customers and employees safe. Obtaining the<br />

2% PEP increase as the pandemic continued through FFY 2021 was a<br />

daunting target that would require an “all hands on deck” effort from our<br />

team.<br />

It was clear that the challenge we had in front of us had captured the<br />

attention of our department commissioner and her team. The support we<br />

received from them was helpful, as it enabled us to tap into some<br />

resources for assistance that we may not have otherwise been able to

access. We received help from the Administrative Office of the Courts,<br />

Council of Superior Court Judges, Office of State Administrative Hearings,<br />

and Attorney General’s Office in spreading the word and putting short-term<br />

processes in place to drive paternity.<br />

After a year of intense focus,<br />

monitoring, projecting, brainstorming,<br />

worrying, and outstanding performance<br />

by our team, I am happy to say that as<br />

of 11:59:59 p.m. on September 30,<br />

2021, our PEP was 87.95%. This is a<br />

3.84% increase over FFY 2020. This is<br />

both good news and bad news. While<br />

we improved by more than the required<br />

2% threshold to avoid a potential penalty, we are still under 90% and must<br />

go through this process again this year as the pandemic continues.<br />

There may be relief to this pressure soon. On October 19, 2021, the<br />

Paternity Establishment Percentage Performance Relief Notice of<br />

Proposed Rulemaking was published, which proposed to modify the PEP<br />

requirement from the 90% performance threshold to 50% for FFY 2020 and<br />

2021 for a state to avoid a financial penalty. The adoption of this proposed<br />

rule would bring much-needed relief to many states that have shared the<br />

same experience as my state in the last year.<br />

John Hurst is the Asst. Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Dept. of Human Services. He<br />

has more than 28 years in the child support program, serving in various roles. John was<br />

appointed to his current position and in this role, he serves as the IV-D Director of the<br />

Georgia DCSS program. John earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in<br />

Management from Georgia State University.

<strong>2022</strong> Policy Forum Preview: Focusing On Our<br />

Vision…Recognizing Our Perspectives<br />

by Margot Bean and Connie Chesnik<br />

Co-chairs, NCSEA <strong>2022</strong> Policy Forum<br />

Child Support and Human Service professionals from across the country<br />

will come together in person this February for the <strong>2022</strong> NCSEA Policy<br />

Forum. This year’s theme, Focusing On Our Vision – Recognizing Our<br />

Perspectives, reflects our shared vision that every child receives reliable<br />

financial and emotional support. Over the course of three days, we will<br />

focus our perspectives—no matter how different—to work together on<br />

behalf of children and families and to advance and promote best practices<br />

in the child support program.<br />

Ten plenary sessions will offer attendees a variety of perspectives on topics<br />

trending in the child support community. Additionally, as we continue to<br />

“think big,” attendees will see short videos from several think tanks that<br />

perform child support-related research and advocacy, discussing their<br />

experiences building the child support program and their insights into the<br />

program’s evolution.<br />

Thursday’s sessions will open with a parents’ panel that will enhance<br />

attendees’ understanding of how parents experience services across<br />

human service programs and how we can better align those services to<br />

serve young families more effectively. Participants will also hear from

program leadership on how they are approaching change in their states to<br />

better promote customer participation and engagement.<br />

The <strong>2022</strong> Policy Forum will build on the diversity, equity, and inclusion<br />

(DEI) work begun during last year’s Policy Forum with a session that will<br />

challenge participants to “live what we are learning.” As attendees sharpen<br />

their equity lens, they will also have the opportunity to review existing child<br />

support policies from a domestic violence perspective with a session that<br />

focuses on incorporating trauma-informed practices into our service<br />

delivery.<br />

Friday’s plenaries will open with a session that focuses our perspectives on<br />

how we measure our program’s success. As the child support program<br />

evolves to center families in our discussions and to incorporate DEI and<br />

trauma-informed care principles, a panel of child support program leaders<br />

will explore how performance measures can evaluate the program’s<br />

success in these areas. The remainder of the day will focus on a variety of<br />

operational aspects of the child support program, beginning with the<br />

evolution of child support enforcement tools over time. This session will<br />

feature panelists with different perspectives on enforcement remedies and<br />

how their approaches have evolved to adapt to changes in the program.<br />

Friday’s program will examine the evolution of policy related to paternity<br />

establishment over the past century with a focus on current issues,<br />

including mandatory genetic testing and the implications of paternity<br />

policies on the LGBTQ+ population. This will be followed by a critical<br />

examination of whether recent changes to state child support guideline<br />

requirements have improved child support outcomes for low-income<br />

families. The day will conclude with a discussion of intergovernmental hot<br />

topics, including interstate payment processing, case closure regulations,<br />

$0 orders, limited services, and more. A panel of experts will explore these<br />

topics to identify possible recommendations for change.<br />

You will not want to miss the final programs on Saturday morning. The day<br />

opens with a focus on system modernization, a key component in the<br />

evolution of the child support program. Representatives from states with<br />

recent experiences in modernizing their systems will discuss how to build<br />

systems that can adapt to changes in both policy and customer needs.<br />

The <strong>2022</strong> NCSEA Policy Forum will conclude with an interactive session<br />

designed to bring our different perspectives together to provide actionable<br />

steps attendees can take back to their states to continue working toward

our shared vision. We look forward to reconnecting with you in Washington,<br />

D.C., from February 3-5, <strong>2022</strong>!<br />

Margot Bean is a Managing Director in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Services<br />

Transformation Practice, focusing on helping child support programs improve their<br />

outcomes by providing effective and efficient data driven customer-focused services.<br />

She helps child support programs develop human centered case management systems<br />

that streamline business processes, effectively analyze their caseloads, and allow case<br />

managers to execute case strategies based on customer needs. Margot’s wide variety<br />

of government experience prior to joining Deloitte provides her with deep understanding<br />

and insight: Commissioner of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, IV-D<br />

Director of the New York State Child Support program, IV-D Director of the Guam Child<br />

Support Program, and child support attorney. She is a current member of the NCSEA<br />

Board of Directors.<br />

Connie M. Chesnik received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the<br />

University of Wisconsin-Madison. As an attorney for the Wisconsin Department of<br />

Workforce Development, Connie advised the child support program for many years and<br />

has spoken frequently on Wisconsin’s child support guidelines and Wisconsin’s tribal IV-<br />

D program. She is currently the Administrator of the Division of Family and Economic<br />

Security in the Department of Children and Families where she oversees Wisconsin’s<br />

child support, refugee and employment programs. Connie is a member of the State Bar<br />

of Wisconsin, and the State and National Child Support Enforcement Associations. She<br />

currently serves on the NCSEA Board of Directors.

A Guided Tour of<br />

IV-D Videos and Live<br />

Interaction<br />

by Christopher Breen, Massachusetts CSD &<br />

Mary Ann Wellbank, Mary Ann Wellbank, LLC<br />


According to an April 2021 report of the U.S. Census Bureau, Computer<br />

and Internet Use in the United States: 2018, 92% of U.S. households had<br />

“at least one type of computer and 85% had a broadband internet<br />

subscription.” A March 2021 survey conducted by the Pew Research<br />

Center found that “85% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis”<br />

and “44% of 18-to 49-year-olds say they go online almost constantly.” Child<br />

support agencies have leveraged these trends by offering more information<br />

and services through their websites.<br />

COVID-19 provided an additional catalyst for IV-D agencies to find new<br />

ways to deliver IV-D services remotely. This led to both a surge in digital<br />

communication and realization that cloud-based services are essential to<br />

engage customers into the future. As of December 2021, most IV-D<br />

services were back on track, although in many cases the method of service<br />

delivery changed permanently because of COVID-19. State websites offer<br />

new services such as self-service portals for customers and colleagues,<br />

online chatbots, centralized email addresses, and text notifications.<br />

In its April 2021 article Social Media Use in 2021, the Pew Research<br />

Center found that 81% of Americans and 95% of adults ages 18-29 say<br />

they use YouTube. A November 2018 Pew study, Many Turn to YouTube<br />

for Children’s Content, News, How-To Lessons, found that 51% of<br />

YouTube users use YouTube to learn new things. Research conducted by

video marketing firm Wyzowl, and frequently cited by news and technical<br />

media, indicates “when asked how they’d most like to learn about a product<br />

or service, 69% said they’d prefer to watch a short video. This compares to<br />

18% who’d rather read a text-based article, website, or post.” While those<br />

statistics do not necessarily translate to clicking on links to governmentcreated<br />

videos on IV-D websites, they do indicate that short, well-produced,<br />

and conspicuous videos can successfully engage customers.<br />

With this information in mind, the authors explored the IV-D websites of the<br />

54 states and territories to identify innovations that agencies incorporated<br />

into their web offerings, with a focus on the use of video to reach<br />

customers. Numerous IV-D programs have uploaded state-produced<br />

videos to their websites or added links to YouTube videos produced by<br />

external partners such as the Office of Child Support (OCSE), fatherhood<br />

programs, and Sesame Street. An increasing number of states maintain<br />

department YouTube channels independent of IV-D websites where video<br />

content is posted. A smaller percentage of states offer live interactions via<br />

telecommunication, discussed later in this article.<br />

The authors’ review consisted of eyeballing and testing links to videos and<br />

reviewing the offerings to see what is out there and what might be of<br />

interest to other states and IV-D agencies. The approach was subjective<br />

and unscientific, but hopefully useful to IV-D agencies that wish to adopt or<br />

compare best practices from other programs.<br />

Subject to the limitations of the review, the observations of the authors are<br />

categorized and summarized below. Links to the websites and videos have<br />

been inserted in this article so that readers can just click a link to view the<br />

content.<br />


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has its own YouTube<br />

channel with hundreds of informational videos targeted to health and<br />

human services professionals and consumers of other programs. This<br />

channel contains an OCSE video (in English and Spanish) that is geared<br />

toward IV-D parents and can be linked to state websites:<br />

• What is Child Support?

• ¿Qué es el sustento de menores?<br />

A number of states including Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland,<br />

Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, West Virginia, and<br />

Wisconsin link to this video.<br />

California has an extensive Video Resource Library with an introductory<br />

video and nearly 60 other videos that it maintains on both its social media<br />

pages and on the state website itself. The 60-second videos posted for<br />

customers are particularly effective.<br />

On its Contact Us page, Colorado links to its YouTube account, which<br />

offers a variety of resources to various stakeholders.<br />

Connecticut’s Judicial Branch has a strong YouTube presence with several<br />

videos to assist parents.<br />

Florida links to its YouTube page, which has a video that explains how to<br />

apply for services.<br />

Illinois has several videos on its website under “How-To Videos”, including<br />

an introduction to child support services, paternity establishment,<br />

modifications, license suspension, and parenting plans.<br />

Indiana Department of Child Services has a YouTube presence with videos<br />

on how to apply for, receive, and pay child support and more.<br />

Maryland has a Vimeo channel that includes a second introduction to child<br />

support (in addition to the ACF/OCSE video) and a license suspension<br />

video for noncustodial parents.<br />

New York has a 20-minute YouTube Video, What You Need to Know About<br />

Child Support Hearings and Services in New York State, that provides a

detailed explanation of the hearing process for each type of petition, the<br />

documents to bring, and the services the IV-D program can provide.<br />

At the bottom of its home page, North Dakota has a short video entitled Do<br />

You Need Help with Child Support? It contains some North Dakota specific<br />

references but would be easily adaptable to other states’ programs.<br />

Vermont’s 21-minute video, Overview of the Vermont Office of Child<br />

Support, details services provided by its IV-D program, answers frequently<br />

asked questions, and describes the legal process.<br />

Virginia has text and a pictorial video accompanied by music: Child Support<br />

Without Court - Five Fast Facts about Child Support.<br />


APPS<br />

Florida has a video explaining its new eServices website.<br />

Georgia’s website links to the GA DHS YouTube page, which contains a<br />

video on its new mobile app, and other videos related to the child support<br />

program.<br />

Massachusetts provides a helpful tutorial that encourages self-service<br />

through its online Case Manager.<br />

Michigan offers a useful video for its customers explaining how to navigate<br />

the MiChild Support site, while also linking to the ACF video through its<br />

MiChildSupport login page.<br />

Montana has text and a video about a new law that allows continued<br />

assistance to a custodial parent responsible for the care of a disabled adult<br />

child.<br />

Louisiana has a video explaining how to use CAFÉ, the Louisiana selfservices<br />

portal.<br />

Ohio’s home page contains a video, Introducing Ohio’s Child Support<br />

Mobile App, along with links to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store<br />

to download the app.

South Carolina’s homepage includes a video, Child Support Portal<br />

Demonstration, to show parents how to use its portal to access case<br />

specific information.<br />


A number of states have relatively generic, easily adaptable videos on their<br />

websites about paternity acknowledgment, which can serve as prototypes<br />

for other states.<br />

District of Columbia has a video on its site detailing how to acknowledge<br />

paternity for mothers and alleged fathers.<br />

Illinois has two videos explaining the parental acknowledgment of<br />

parentage process, Paternity 101 and How to Establish Paternity. Its How-<br />

To Library also includes videos explaining business activity for obligated<br />

cases such as review and adjustment, license suspension, and bank levy.<br />

Illinois Child Support Services also maintains a YouTube channel that<br />

shares much of this content and some independent content.<br />

Louisiana features several paternity videos on its YouTube page.<br />

Massachusetts has a helpful video in both English and Spanish,<br />

“Establishing Paternity”, that explains the many benefits to the noncustodial<br />

parent, custodial parent, and the dependent in establishing paternity.<br />

Minnesota has a paternity video on its YouTube page at Minnesota<br />

Paternity, and a second video on community engagement with child<br />

support customers at Minnesota Engagement.<br />

Missouri features a video on its department’s YouTube page explaining the<br />

paternity acknowledgment process and free paternity testing.

On its “Establishing Paternity” page, Oregon has a video, Statement of<br />

Rights and Responsibilities, Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, which<br />

is an oral version of the information found on the back of the state’s<br />

Voluntary Acknowledgment Form.<br />

New York hosts a video on YouTube, Acknowledgment of Parentage in<br />

New York. This 11-minute video is also in Spanish and covers natural<br />

reproduction as well as assisted reproduction and surrogacy.<br />

Tennessee’s video offerings include on-line training programs for hospital<br />

and health department staff, VAoP guide for Hospitals, and A Guide for<br />

Health Departments, respectively. There is also an animated parent<br />

education video in English and Spanish for Voluntary Acknowledgment of<br />

Paternity.<br />

Texas has a comprehensive 17-minute video on acknowledging paternity.<br />

Washington’s 5-minute Acknowledgment of Parentage video is in both<br />

English and Spanish. It describes the process while emphasizing the<br />

acknowledgment form is a legal document that comes with consequences.<br />

The video also explains how to get genetic testing and how to deny or<br />

rescind the Acknowledgment of Parentage.<br />


As part of their recent Intergovernmental Case Processing Innovation<br />

Grants, at least two states have posted videos for parents on their<br />

websites:<br />

• On its home page, North Carolina has a 26-minute PowerPoint<br />

presentation, What is An Intergovernmental Child Support Case?,<br />

which explains the process and helps set expectations for parents<br />

who have cases involving anther state, territory, or tribal land.<br />

• Under the heading of “Services>Intergovernmental>Outgoing<br />

Intergovernmental Cases,” North Dakota has two PowerPoint<br />

presentations:<br />

• Intergovernmental Child Support, which provides an overview of<br />

the process when parents live in two different jurisdictions; and<br />

• The Completing Forms video, which discusses the forms that<br />

customers must complete in order to refer a case to another

jurisdiction. Along with the video are sample forms in an e-learning<br />

format for General Testimony and Declaration Establishing<br />

Parentage with text bubbles containing specific section-by-section<br />

instructions. The sample forms would be useful not only for<br />

intergovernmental customers, but also for child support and<br />

customer service professionals to help their customers complete<br />

these complicated federal forms.<br />

With respect to state-tribal intergovernmental cases, the Iowa Child Welfare<br />

Research and Training Project features videos dedicated to<br />

intergovernmental child support with Iowa DHS and its ongoing relationship<br />

with the Meskwaki Nation tribal IV-D program.<br />


Massachusetts posted a modification video on its Massachusetts<br />

Department of Revenue YouTube channel (in addition to several other<br />

helpful videos).<br />

Texas has a text-only presentation accompanied by music, Apply for a<br />

Modification, that explains the 8 steps involved in a modification.<br />


On its home page under “Related Resources,” Connecticut links to the<br />

John S. Martinez Fatherhood Initiative, which features a powerful video,<br />

Connecticut Dear Dad, on the importance of paternal engagement with<br />

their children.<br />

Maine’s website links to a YouTube video regarding the HOPE program<br />

that offers resources to parents seeking pathways to employment.

Oregon has links to two videos for parents interested in parenting time:<br />

• Custody and Parenting Time: What's the Difference?; and<br />

• Parenting Plans⎯Why would you want one? (also available in<br />

Spanish)<br />

Texas has a page dedicated to co-parenting with a 22-minute video on the<br />

topic, For Our Children: Learning to Work Together, and a downloadable<br />

sticker calendar for parents and children to plan and track the time spent in<br />

each parent’s home. There is also a 21-minute presentation targeted to<br />

Incarcerated Parents.<br />


The Texas Parenting and Paternity Awareness (p.a.p.a.) curriculum is<br />

designed to be used by schools and other educational and communitybased<br />

organizations to teach young adults about parenting. It is entirely<br />

online and readily accessible to educators as well as the general public. It<br />

encompasses 10 sessions of approximately one-hour duration, and<br />

includes handouts, teacher resources, group activities, workbook<br />

exercises, and videos. See the introductory video, Section 1a-What is<br />

P.A.P.A?, here.<br />

Oklahoma has created Child Support Quest, a learning library for<br />

Oklahoma child support professionals and a way for employees to submit<br />

bright ideas that will improve child support performance, budget savings, or<br />

program efficiencies. Child support workers access information on this site<br />

daily from their offices, court, teleworking from their homes, or while on the<br />

road, and call center employees often direct their customers to the site for<br />

more information. A search for videos on the Quest website reveals a<br />

number of short and useful videos for child support professionals to learn<br />

about pertinent topics.<br />


The Delaware IV-D Director answers questions live once monthly on the<br />

Child Support Connection, which is streamed on Facebook for one hour.<br />

Past discussions are posted in the Facebook Video File. Director Mermigos<br />

also has a standing commitment to a radio talk show for an hour each

month. (Note: Many states may not permit readers to access social media.<br />

See the Delaware website for more information.)<br />

Massachusetts is promoting its Virtual Counter. In addition to facilitating<br />

virtual meetings with customers, the Virtual Counter allows IV-D colleagues<br />

to discuss and resolve reciprocal UIFSA cases using Zoom breakout<br />

rooms.<br />

The Mississippi DHS conducts Town Halls that are available on its<br />

YouTube page. This one covers child support.<br />

As of the date this article was written (December 2021), New York offered<br />

an online Employer Conference scheduled for December 8, 2021. The<br />

purpose was to help employers understand their legal obligations and<br />

obtain guidance on topics such as new hire reporting and processing<br />

income withholding and medical support orders.<br />


States have generally posted very comprehensive and useful information,<br />

particularly in the areas of intergovernmental and paternity<br />

acknowledgment. Many states also have videos on establishment and<br />

enforcement, which are not covered in this article due to limited space and<br />

less applicability to other states; however, they can be found on state<br />

websites and YouTube channels.<br />

States have also linked to a plethora of outside services that can be useful<br />

to parents with child support cases. In addition to its videos on divorce and<br />

incarceration, Sesame Street in Communities offers a number of clips on<br />

other topics of interest to families. Several states host their own YouTube<br />

channels, which makes it easier for parents to search state-specific videos<br />

rather than the overabundance of videos created by attorneys or angry<br />

parents on how to fight child support.<br />

While visiting the websites, the authors also noted some areas that could<br />

benefit from improvement. For example, some great videos are buried in<br />

state websites or just reside on YouTube without links from webpages, and<br />

there are also some broken and mislabeled links. However, each website is<br />

unique and different, some more comprehensive, or more easily navigable<br />

than others, but all offer practical information for parents and many have

approaches, videos, and information that can be adapted or imitated by<br />

other states.<br />

Christopher Breen is in his 29 th year of child support enforcement, his 18 th in a<br />

managerial capacity. Chris currently serves on multiple NCSEA committees. He is the<br />

Deputy Director for the Northern Region of the Massachusetts Department of<br />

Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement Division. Chris has also acted as project<br />

manager for several significant implementations, including Massachusetts’ recent<br />

Virtual Counter implementation that leverages Zoom breakout rooms to provide online<br />

customer service. He possesses a B.A. from Providence College with a focus in<br />

English, and an M.A. from the University of Massachusetts. Chris previously completed<br />

a certificate program at Suffolk University, as he begins to pursue his M.B.A.<br />

Mary Ann Wellbank is an NCSEA past president, honorary life member, and Kathy<br />

Duggan Memorial Award Recipient. She is also a past president of the National Council<br />

of Child Support Directors (NCCSD), and honorary life member of the Western<br />

Intergovernmental Child Support Engagement Council (WICSEC). Mary Ann is the<br />

longest serving member of the <strong>CSQ</strong> Editorial Committee. She has over 30 years’<br />

experience in the child support program in the public and private sectors beginning with<br />

a decade of service as Montana’s IV-D Director. As president of her company, Mary<br />

Ann Wellbank, LLC, she specializes in consulting, writing, and research.<br />



Intergovernmental Hot Topics!<br />

by Rob Velcoff<br />

Intergovernmental Support Services<br />

If you’re one of those rare and special people who considers<br />

intergovernmental child support hot topics—including interstate payment<br />

processing, enforcement of “dead” cases, and $0 orders—exciting, then<br />

read on. This article is for you. At the National Council of Child Support<br />

Directors’ (NCCSD) 2021 conference, a session was held where these<br />

issues and others, including intergovernmental limited services, interest,<br />

and interstate case closure regulations, led to a lively discussion. Many of<br />

these policies are controversial, crying out for change. What specific<br />

changes should be recommended are debatable, and there is not always a<br />

one-size-fits-all answer. Still, solutions often start with discussions detailing<br />

the problem areas. So, let’s start with the following issues.<br />

Interstate Payment Processing<br />

Currently four different types of child support cases with orders, or<br />

accounts, exist. They might be called by different names across<br />

jurisdictions, but they are basically the following:<br />

1. IV-D Cases<br />

2. Non-IV-D Cases<br />

3. Limited Services Payment Forwarding Cases<br />

4. Arrears Balance Accounts<br />

Everyone knows the most common case types, the IV-D and Non-IV-D<br />

cases, so there is no need to provide details about those. The third type is<br />

the Limited Services Payment Forwarding case. As often happens under<br />

these circumstances, the criteria under which this type of case is used<br />

varies greatly across jurisdictions. Limited Services Payment Forwarding<br />

cases occur when the initiating jurisdiction requests payments be<br />

forwarded from the responding jurisdiction’s State Disbursement Unit

(SDU) to their own SDU, and nothing more. While this type of case should<br />

be initiated by the requesting jurisdiction sending a Child Support<br />

Enforcement Transmittal #3 to the Central Registry of the responding<br />

jurisdiction, many states never make such a request, and instead use the<br />

Child Support Enforcement Transmittal #1 - Enforcement (Box 3.A.) to<br />

request the opening of a full IV-D interstate case. This occurs when the<br />

initiating jurisdiction simply wants the responding jurisdiction to enforce the<br />

order and send payments to the initiating jurisdiction. Previously called<br />

Redirection of Payments, this action is now titled “Child Support Agency<br />

Request for Change of Support Payment Location Pursuant to UIFSA §<br />

319.” Again, some states never request a Limited Services Payment<br />

Forwarding case, probably because they do not have the ability to create<br />

such a case on their own system. These jurisdictions have the ability to<br />

create only full IV-D or Non-IV-D cases, not the other two limited types, so<br />

they do not request this limited service from other states.<br />

The fourth type of case is the arrears balance only case. Each jurisdiction<br />

probably has a different name for this type of account. This type of case is<br />

created when a state/territory/tribe had a IV-D case open at one point, but<br />

the case met federal and/or state case closure criteria and was closed. Still,<br />

that jurisdiction had established a child support order that remains ongoing,<br />

so the controlling order state is still required to maintain the official<br />

determination of arrears, regardless of whether or not payments are<br />

directed through their SDU. Even if other states are currently receiving and<br />

disbursing payments, the controlling-order state is required to maintain the<br />

official payment record, including interest if applicable. Therefore, the<br />

disbursing state must periodically inform the controlling-order state of

payments made, and the controlling-order state must maintain the official<br />

payment record. This is outlined in OCSE’s AT-17-07, Interstate Child<br />

Support Payment Processing, and is a must-read for all child support<br />

workers involved in interstate casework. As with Limited Services Payment<br />

Forwarding cases, the majority of states currently do not have the ability to<br />

create this type of accounting system for closed cases.<br />

One should note that AT-17-07 was published four and a half years ago.<br />

One would think that if child support programs wanted to create this type of<br />

accounting, they would have had ample time to do so by now. Also, federal<br />

financial participation is generally not available for this type of case, further<br />

dampening states’ desires to spend the time and resources necessary to<br />

update their systems to do so. That last sentence apparently sums up the<br />

way that many different jurisdictions seem to feel about these last two types<br />

of cases. They have survived since AT-17-07 was published without their<br />

involvement with these types of accounts, so what is the incentive to create<br />

them now? A very limited number of cases exist where this type of scenario<br />

is even applicable. Controlling-order states frequently close their cases with<br />

no official payment record from that point on, and the other states who are<br />

working the case manage just fine. And it appears the majority of states are<br />

operating in this fashion. If they have not created these two limited types of<br />

accounts after all this time, it’s a safe bet to assume they have no intention<br />

of doing so now.<br />

If the majority of states are loath to make<br />

the changes necessary for limited services<br />

payment forwarding cases and arrears<br />

balance only cases, perhaps we really need<br />

to consider changing the requirements for<br />

these types of accounts. The entire concept<br />

that the state that issued the controlling<br />

order must maintain the official payment record is something that came<br />

about during the creation of the 1996 and 2001 versions of UIFSA. Still,<br />

that concept is not found in UIFSA itself, nor is it found in any federal law,<br />

rule, or regulation. It was only added into the official commentary to UIFSA,<br />

which is not officially binding. OCSE took that 20+ year-old concept and<br />

built federal policy around it.<br />

The original idea was a good one, as states would often disagree on the<br />

arrears amounts in their two-state cases, even after comparing payment<br />

histories. So a tie-breaker was needed. If there were an interstate case<br />

between, say, California and Florida, and California had the arrears on the

case at $6,000 but Florida showed the arrears to be $5,000, the best way<br />

to settle things was that the state that issued the controlling order had the<br />

official determination of arrears, and both states were bound by this. So in<br />

the preceding scenario, if the court order was issued by California, the<br />

arrears on the case were officially $6,000 and both states had to use this<br />

amount. This was especially helpful for states that charged interest. This<br />

concept was never meant to require states to keep their cases open<br />

indefinitely, especially in limited form, after federal and state case closure<br />

criteria applied. Controlling-order states should be able to close their cases<br />

under appropriate criteria in CFR § 303.11, and the disbursing state can<br />

then be charged with maintaining the official determination of arrears from<br />

that point on. This would require the creation of an “Arrears Calculator” to<br />

determine other states’ interest rates, which is an extra step, but once such<br />

a tool is created it should be simple enough to maintain and periodically<br />

update. This seems much simpler than having two separate types of<br />

accounts that are seldom (and in many states, never) used.<br />

Enforcement of “Dead” Cases<br />

Child support workers in responding jurisdictions really dislike when they<br />

are asked to register and enforce a child support order from another state<br />

when the noncustodial parent has no income or assets. Workers<br />

understand that the case doesn’t<br />

have to be an easy one: the NCP<br />

can be self-employed, or have<br />

hidden assets or a spotty work<br />

history. Difficult cases can be<br />

successfully managed. However,<br />

if the case was 100%<br />

unenforceable in the state that<br />

issued the order, what makes the<br />

issuing state think that the NCP’s<br />

current state of residence will have any better chance of success in<br />

However, if the case was 100%<br />

unenforceable in the state that issued the<br />

order, what makes the issuing state think<br />

that the NCP’s current state of residence<br />

will have any better chance of success in<br />

enforcing the order at this time?<br />

enforcing the order at this time? If the initiating jurisdiction has a “dead”, or<br />

completely unenforceable case in their state, and they have located the<br />

NCP in another state but no new income or assets were found, should they<br />

attempt to register their child support order in that new jurisdiction for<br />

enforcement?<br />

The easy answer is “no”, why bother? But wait, perhaps there is some logic<br />

to doing so after all. This reasoning comes from the fact that it is not always<br />

clear as to whether an order is enforceable or not. Even if it’s currently

unenforceable, will it be enforceable in the (near) future? The main reason<br />

to register a court order for enforcement in another state is for judicial<br />

remedies. One-state enforcement tools are currently so thorough and allencompassing<br />

that the initiating jurisdiction can do almost all administrative<br />

enforcement that the responding jurisdiction can do. The initiating<br />

jurisdiction can issue an IWO, do federal tax offset, passport denial, most<br />

bank levies, many property executions, the national Driver’s License<br />

Compact, multi-state FIDM, limited services cooperation between states,<br />

multi-state lottery game intercepts, and a myriad of other administrative<br />

enforcement tools that can be done by the controlling-order state without<br />

the need to involve a second state’s child support agency. This means the<br />

main reason to register an order is judicial enforcement by bringing the<br />

NCP into court for contempt. Since the 2016 Final Rule, before this action<br />

can take place, the child support agency is required to prove the NCP has<br />

the ability to pay the support obligation but failed to do so. So, for those<br />

cases where the obligor simply does not have the ability to pay the support<br />

order, there is no logical reason to register that order for enforcement in<br />

their state of residence. Registration of the child support order should only<br />

occur if the NCP has the ability to pay. And if the ability to pay exists, the<br />

administrative enforcement tools at the disposal of the initiating jurisdiction<br />

are generally sufficient for enforcement. Right?<br />

Well, maybe. The obligor’s current state of residence can enforce the order<br />

in ways that the initiating jurisdiction cannot. In addition to judicial<br />

enforcement, some local administrative enforcement tools exist. Location<br />

efforts are easier by the responding jurisdiction. Many employment<br />

programs and similar courses that are local to the NCP must be set up by<br />

his or her in-state jurisdiction. It can be easier to monitor sporadic<br />

employment by a local agency than by one halfway across the country. So<br />

there is no clear and simple answer to this one; it must be a case-by-case<br />

decision. Still, some common sense should be used when determining<br />

whether to register an order in another state for enforcement. The key is<br />

the “enforceability” of the order. If a realistic chance of successful<br />

enforcement exists, then registration is the answer. However, if no<br />

enforcement action can be taken on the case by the registering jurisdiction,<br />

what is the point of wasting everyone’s time and effort and limited<br />

resources in registering an unenforceable order?

$0 Orders<br />

During these difficult economic times, more jurisdictions are establishing<br />

child support orders with a $0 obligation amount. These are not court<br />

orders that do not list a child support obligation or pend the establishment<br />

of a financial amount for a future time. These are not “non-financial” orders.<br />

These are actually child support obligations for zero dollars. Not all states<br />

use this option, as some have minimum wage orders as the lowest support<br />

obligation amount they can establish. Still others have minimum needs of<br />

the child orders. That being said, more courts are establishing $0 court<br />

orders, or are modifying child support obligation amounts to $0 when the<br />

obligor does not have the ability to pay. Can anything be done with these<br />

orders if the case is interstate? Should these cases have been brought into<br />

court in the first place? Aren’t they the same as the “dead cases” discussed<br />

previously?<br />

They are definitely different and serve a purpose. First, parentage<br />

(paternity) may be adjudicated based on the establishment of such an<br />

order. Second, a child support order is created, setting legal terms such as<br />

age of emancipation as well as jurisdiction for future modifications. Medical<br />

support might even be tied to such orders. While establishment of these $0<br />

orders serves many functions, interstate implications should be considered.<br />

Can such an order be registered for enforcement? Technically, yes.<br />

Realistically, these appear to be “dead cases” as previously discussed. It is<br />

doubtful that most states would even accept such orders for registration.<br />

One could argue that these $0 orders should be<br />

registered and monitored for employment<br />

programs or possible future modifications. In<br />

theory, that might work. In reality, this may not be<br />

a good use of limited resources. However, that<br />

would be up to the registering state. Before<br />

attempting to register a $0 order the initiating<br />

jurisdiction should contact the responding<br />

jurisdiction and simply ask them about it.<br />

Communication is the key, as it is in much of the<br />

intergovernmental case-processing world. Is there anything the responding<br />

jurisdiction can do with such an order? Would they even accept the case<br />

for registration in the first place? Is the NCP employable? Is the initiating<br />

jurisdiction registering a third state’s order that the responding jurisdiction<br />

can be asked to modify at a later time? Again, the answer will vary, so it

ends up being a case-by-case decision. A conversation should certainly<br />

take place between the two child support agencies before any type of twostate<br />

action on a $0 order is attempted.<br />

Final note: Additional topics will be covered in a future article. Also, please<br />

remember that all of the suggestions in this article are simply that – ideas<br />

for future consideration. Until and unless these recommendations are<br />

enacted, the existing federal policies should still be followed by all<br />

jurisdictions. These are simply theories for potential upcoming changes and<br />

are definitely not the author’s way of granting permission for anyone to try<br />

to avoid the well-written and thought-out policy guidance scripted by our<br />

OCSE colleagues.<br />

Rob Velcoff is an independent child support consultant with his own agency,<br />

Intergovernmental Support Services. Before starting his own agency, Mr. Velcoff<br />

worked for the New York State Division of Child Support Services for over 30 years. In<br />

May 2011 he became President of the Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support<br />

Association (ERICSA). Mr. Velcoff has received several awards, including ERICSA’s<br />

Felix Infausto Award (President’s Award). An individual member of NCSEA, Mr. Velcoff<br />

received a BS in Criminal Justice from the State University College of New York at<br />

Brockport and an MA in Criminal Justice from the State University of New York at<br />


Is NCSEA U For You?<br />

NCSEA U was chartered in 2013 and currently has<br />

more than 135 alumni. NCSEA U provides a unique<br />

premier educational and professional development<br />

opportunity. It is structured for learning leaders in the<br />

child support community, and it complements NCSEA’s<br />

other educational initiatives and strategies. The<br />

program is taught by nationally recognized child<br />

support leaders, offering a variety of informative and<br />

strategic topics. Classes are structured with an<br />

emphasis on group discussions that include work/life balance and best practice initiatives<br />

with real-time work environment scenarios.<br />

Whether for yourself or your staff, NCSEA U offers a transformative learning experience<br />

and is a catalyst for networking opportunities. NCSEA U alumni would love for you to<br />

become a part of this unique group. Because we are proud of NCSEA U, we will be<br />

featuring Alumni in upcoming <strong>CSQ</strong> articles. Their stories will highlight why NCSEA U is for<br />

you.<br />

Meet Our NCSEA U Alumni<br />

Beverly C. Murphy, Esq. - Class 2019<br />

New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts<br />

Chief of Child Support Client Services<br />

What would you like others to know about NCSEA U?<br />

Provides good networking opportunities with peers from other states who are experiencing similar<br />

challenges.<br />

NCSEA U @ Leadership Symposium focuses on the emerging and learning leader. How do you<br />

define leadership?<br />

Influencing, inspiring, and helping a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.<br />

Do you have a favorite quote that you refer to periodically?<br />

"Unless you're continually improving your skills, you're quickly becoming irrelevant." Stephen Covey<br />

Do you have a favorite author in the leadership space and/or would you recommend a specific<br />

leadership book? Why?<br />

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey. An enduring classic that remains relevant<br />

decades after it was first published.

Ashley Dexter - Class 2016<br />

Deloitte Consulting LLP<br />

Senior Specialist<br />

What was the most valuable aspect of the NCSEA U experience?<br />

The most valuable aspect of the NCSEA U experience for me was getting to meet new child support<br />

colleagues from across the country. To this day, I am still friends with many and look forward to visiting with<br />

them at conferences and on committee calls. The networking opportunity is invaluable.<br />

Since attending NCSEA U, what opportunities (personal and professional) have you experienced?<br />

Since attending NCSEA U, I helped initiate and lead the first NCSEA Connects group which has developed<br />

into a sub-committee. I was elected to the NCSEA Board of Directors and asked to co-chair the Leadership<br />

Symposium planning committee three years in a row. Now, I get to give back by co-chairing the NCSEA U<br />

committee in 2021-<strong>2022</strong>. I really see NCSEA U as a launching pad for my NCSEA involvement and growth<br />

throughout the past several years.<br />

What is a key leadership attribute that you appreciate in others? Why? Servant Leadership:<br />

empowering your team because “The company owner doesn't need to win. The best idea does.” John<br />

Maxwell<br />

Stacy Sharon - Class of 2019<br />

Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement<br />

District Administrator<br />

What would you like others to know about NCSEA U?<br />

This provides an excellent opportunity to expand leadership skills and knowledge through firsthand<br />

experiences shared by child support colleagues throughout the United States.<br />

NCSEA U @ Leadership Symposium focuses on the emerging and learning leader. How do you<br />

define leadership?<br />

The ability to lead a team in a manner that fosters trust, professional growth, commitment, and dedication<br />

for the purpose of achieving a common goal.<br />

Do you believe that attending NCSEA U helped to shape this definition? How or how not?<br />

It did not shape the definition, but it definitely provided ways to accomplish the goal through the shared<br />

experiences and knowledge of accomplished leaders.<br />

Why would you recommend NCSEA U to others?<br />

NCSEA U will stretch you beyond.

Don’t Stand Up if You Aren’t Wearing<br />

Pants and Other Stories Beyond the Pale<br />

by Mary Ann Wellbank, <strong>CSQ</strong> Editorial Committee<br />

When the <strong>CSQ</strong> Editorial Staff put out a call in the Rapid Read for tips and<br />

experiences using videoconferencing, we thought the title, Don’t Stand Up<br />

if You Aren’t Wearing Pants, would encapsulate the most outlandish<br />

experiences NCSEA members had with virtual meetings. Not by a long<br />

shot! Your contributions have exceeded our expectations.<br />

Once it is seen, it cannot be unseen!<br />

Under the category “Yuckiest Moments” are customers who have attended<br />

hearings from their beds or bathrooms. These are true stories from the<br />

child support annals:<br />

“A client showed up on video lying on his bed without a shirt, eating chili<br />

and a grilled cheese sandwich. The judge told him to put a shirt on as it<br />

was a court hearing, and the guy stated he didn’t have to.”<br />

“Last December, one party showed up for a divorce hearing lying in bed<br />

with revealing Christmas PJs.”<br />

“A 35-year-old… father was sitting in the bathroom bare chested. He was<br />

told to put a shirt on to continue. He started yelling for his mommy to get<br />

him a shirt….”<br />

“One of the attendees was using computer for voice and audio and<br />

apparently needed to … go to the bathroom, taking the laptop with him,<br />

without turning off the microphone or camera.”<br />

“Meeting from his bedroom, lying on his bed, with the laptop on his chest,<br />

pillow in plain sight.”

“My workstation is in my bedroom. My husband sat on the bed to change<br />

his clothes and the camera had him in the upper left corner.”<br />

“Enjoyed hearing someone flush the toilet once. Thankfully, I couldn’t hear<br />

what happened prior to the flush. ”<br />

“During a conference, someone had their camera phone with them when<br />

they went to the bathroom… oh what did I<br />

see (and hear)! The messy bathroom with<br />

towels all over the floor. If I wasn’t shocked<br />

about him taking the phone to the potty, I<br />

was shocked at the grown person still<br />

leaving towels on the floor.”<br />

Remember the mute button!<br />

Another frequent and annoying occurrence is failure to correctly use the<br />

mute button.<br />

“A person… started making a fast-food breakfast order without knowing<br />

they weren’t on mute⎯a sausage Egg McMuffin®, hashbrowns, and a<br />

large diet coke meal.”<br />

“During the roughest part of the pandemic, (a) teenager interrupted the<br />

training to ask to go eat lunch outside at the park. The (external) trainer<br />

thought she had muted herself (but didn’t) and ended up lecturing her child<br />

about why it wasn’t safe to be around people at that time. It was awkward<br />

and a train wreck and I couldn’t look away.”<br />

“A person talking to their kids about how to cook eggs when they thought<br />

they were on mute.”<br />

“I was hosting a virtual meeting and thought my sound and video were off<br />

while I was waiting to start the meeting. Wrong! I had been singing with the<br />

radio for about 3 minutes before anyone told me I wasn’t on mute. . . .<br />

Luckily, my video was off because I had been chair dancing, too!”

Pets, Children and Spouses. Oh my!<br />

One individual observed, “Pets, children, and spouses can always be<br />

counted on for the unexpected.” Indeed!<br />

“My Pitbull Terrier tried to get in my lap to see my boss on my computer<br />

screen and knocked me out of my chair.”<br />

“While I was busy listening (and taking notes) during a video call, my cat<br />

jumped up… (and) tapped the web cam cord just enough to move the<br />

camera so it was focused on the stove vent and cupboard above it (vs.<br />

focused on the pretty door behind me).”<br />

“At a Zoom Court hearing, a judicial officer had a green screen (essentially<br />

a green bed sheet) up behind her with her official court seal projected<br />

virtually. In the middle of the hearing, her cat jumped on the sheet and tore<br />

it down making the judicial officer all flustered.… Fortunately, it was just a<br />

blank wall with some family pictures behind that sheet and not her bedroom<br />

or something worse.”<br />

“At the start of the pandemic … whenever my 8-year-old grandson came<br />

into the living room where I would telework, he would easily see that I’d be<br />

on a video call… a year later, COVID restrictions were loosened and my<br />

family and I attended our local county fair … wearing masks was still<br />

required. As we were about to sit down in a large picnic area … my coworker<br />

called out to me. I asked her how she recognized me with a mask<br />

on. She pointed to (my grandson) and said, ‘Your grandson took off his<br />

mask and I recognized him from the times he would pop up in our<br />

meetings.’”<br />

That’s not all, Folks!<br />

Yes, there are more anecdotes, some humorous; others serious.

could see me.”<br />

“I forgot I had my night scarf still on.”<br />

“When we first started using Zoom, I<br />

thought that when the presenter shared the<br />

screen, it meant no one could see each<br />

other. The presenter shared the screen. I<br />

had an evening meeting and I was starved<br />

so started eating a bowl of spaghetti in a<br />

barbaric manner (which I would never do in<br />

public) … I later found out that everyone<br />

“I had a call with a participant who decided to run some errands.… Her<br />

camera clearly showed her driving down the freeway in her car.”<br />

“The NCP thought the (virtual hearing) had ended and he was on with just<br />

the CP, but the case manager was still on the call. The NCP made some<br />

pretty threatening statements about the CP. It caused the case manager to<br />

activate the DV (Domestic Violence) Training and warn the CP about the<br />

comments. The CP had muted the NCP so she didn’t hear what he said.<br />

We were able to get an order of protection.”<br />

Best Practices<br />

Survey respondents suggested best practices for hosts and participants,<br />

summarized below. Video conferencing experts agree.<br />

Host Responsibilities<br />

• Start the meeting on time and admit participants promptly.<br />

• Set up conferences to default to mute. This will help ensure that<br />

unintended audio is not heard by the participants. Participants must<br />

purposely unmute in order to speak.<br />

• Create a virtual seating chart for regular meetings, if available.<br />

Zoom, for example, allows the host to create a fixed seating<br />

configuration. This feature is especially useful for activities that<br />

involve calling on people to speak in a specific order or putting<br />

participants into virtual groups.

• Conduct a roll call from a list. It is easier and takes less time than a<br />

“shout out.”<br />

• Know all the platform’s features and enable those you want to use to<br />

customize the experience.<br />

• Allow time for people to network or use an icebreaker (check out<br />

“MUTE-iny”) to facilitate conversation, and engage people during the<br />

meeting.<br />

• Use the video but forewarn participants so they can prepare to be on<br />

camera. Video conferencing helps people connect, especially when<br />

they work remotely.<br />

• Disseminate an agenda for each meeting and stick to it! Keep the<br />

length⎯and frequency of⎯<br />

meetings manageable. Beware of<br />

video burnout: too many hours a<br />

day in virtual meetings can cause<br />

physical and emotional fatigue.<br />

Schedule breaks.<br />

• If you plan to grant other individuals<br />

permission to present, know how to<br />

share the screen, and verify they know how to give an online<br />

presentation.<br />

• Ask a co-worker to serve as co-pilot when running a large meeting.<br />

• Communicate your expectations and ground rules in advance. This is<br />

especially important for first-timers and parties to hearings. Spend the<br />

first few minutes reviewing the rules and explaining the<br />

teleconferencing features.<br />

Participant (including Host) Responsibilities<br />

• Familiarize yourself with the platform prior to the meeting.<br />

• Test the device’s speakers and microphone before the call and, if<br />

possible, use headphones to minimize external noise.<br />

• Update your name; otherwise, it might default to a previously used<br />

moniker or your device name, e.g., iPhone.<br />

• For video meetings:

• If you use an external camera, position it so that you face it<br />

directly. This can be tricky with dual monitors. Check the<br />

external camera before each video call to ensure it is at eye<br />

level.<br />

• Check the camera angle too so that your whole face is visible,<br />

and that the audience is not looking up your nostrils.<br />

• Your background should be tidy and appropriate. Staging your<br />

area is important to creating a professional image. We’ve all<br />

seen messy rooms, open closets, or, as one colleague<br />

observed, towels all over the bathroom floor! Most platforms<br />

allow participants to blur their screens or add virtual<br />

backgrounds, which are simple solutions, however these<br />

features often cause your on-screen image to quiver. Some<br />

agencies have created their own backgrounds. Other options<br />

are to purchase a green screen or an office-themed backdrop.<br />

Backdrops are inexpensive and clever ways to hide<br />

workspaces that are set up in laundry rooms, garages,<br />

bedrooms, or kitchens.<br />

• Dress for the workplace or court, and make sure you are wellgroomed.<br />

Like it or not, your attire sends a silent, possibly<br />

inaccurate, message about you and your job skills.<br />

• Wear pants! Fishbowl, a semi-anonymous networking app,<br />

conducted a 2020 Coronavirus Survey that revealed nearly 10<br />

percent of people wear only underwear below the belt during<br />

video conference calls! They didn’t ask how many men didn’t<br />

wear shirts, or how many people video-called from the<br />

bathroom, but our own informal NCSEA <strong>CSQ</strong> survey exposes<br />

this practice.<br />

• Safeguard your privacy: avoid displaying items that could reveal<br />

your location or personal information to the public.<br />

• Turn on your camera while speaking.<br />

• Turn off your camera if you encounter issues with bandwidth,<br />

but first turn off your robot vacuum and ask the kids to stop their<br />

video games or streaming.<br />

• Lighting is important. Experts recommend facing a light source<br />

and optimizing natural lighting. To minimize eye glass glare, try

to light your face from the top and the side, and if possible, tilt<br />

your spectacles to avoid reflection of the computer screen.<br />

• Make sure your device battery is plugged in or sufficiently<br />

charged and your computer does not fall asleep!<br />

• Know the rules about eating, drinking, and smoking. In formal<br />

setting, such as hearings or meetings with community<br />

members, drinking water might be okay, but eating is generally<br />

impolite and probably taboo! On the other hand, a snack or<br />

sandwich may be perfectly acceptable for an intra-office<br />

meeting with your peers. Best advice: Investigate before you<br />

masticate!<br />

• If you will be presenting, close all other windows and make sure you<br />

know how to share your screen. This can be particularly challenging if<br />

you have dual monitors. Rehearse your presentation using the<br />

teleconferencing platform so you know which screen to display. Exit<br />

other systems to avoid accidentally disclosing confidential data. Also,<br />

turn off your email so that viewers do not see pop-up messages.<br />

• Be present and remain engaged. Avoid multi-tasking. Some platforms<br />

can detect inattentiveness.<br />

• Ask household members not to interrupt you and post a sign to<br />

remind them. Develop a plan to keep children and pets occupied so<br />

they don’t require your attention during the call.<br />

• Know how to use the mute button and use it when you are not<br />

speaking in order to minimize background noise. Double check it<br />

before you yell at pets or family members or start clicking away on<br />

the keyboard! Remember to unmute as well.<br />

• Use the hand-raising feature, if available, in larger meetings to<br />

indicate you’d like to speak.<br />

• Be careful when using a “chat box” to ensure your conversation is<br />

directed to the right recipient, otherwise it defaults to “everyone.”<br />

• Don’t leave the conference⎯even for a quick break⎯without letting<br />

people know.<br />

• And the best advice of all: Handle mistakes with grace.<br />

Most contributors agreed that video should be on during meetings but be<br />

cognizant of what people are seeing⎯and be mindful of the mute button!

Where to go from here<br />

Thanks to those who shared their best practices and personal experiences<br />

with teleconferencing. They were spot on!<br />

A plethora of useful resources is on the internet as well. Search and you<br />

can find conferencing advice and how-to videos. Suggestions range from<br />

best colors to wear, using meeting rooms, must-have technology,<br />

icebreaker games, closed captioning, live transcription, meeting etiquette,<br />

teambuilding, etc. Let your fingers do the walking!<br />

And, finally, a little poem to convey our wishes for you in <strong>2022</strong>:<br />

May your conferences go smoothly with everyone clothed.<br />

May there be no videos of hairs in your nose.<br />

May the mute button work with flushes suppressed,<br />

And no man present baring his chest.<br />

May the beds be made and the kitchen be clean<br />

With no cluttered background destroying the scene.<br />

No cats, dogs, or kids’ noise to be heard,<br />

And nobody says a disparaging word.<br />

And, if you dread the next video call,<br />

Merely click on “Zoom,” then hit “Uninstall.”<br />

Mary Ann Wellbank is an NCSEA past president, honorary life member, and Kathy<br />

Duggan Memorial Award Recipient. She is also a past president of the National Council<br />

of Child Support Directors (NCCSD), and honorary life member of the Western<br />

Intergovernmental Child Support Engagement Council (WICSEC). Mary Ann is the<br />

longest serving member of the <strong>CSQ</strong> Editorial Committee. She has over 30 yearsexperience<br />

in the child support program in the public and private sectors beginning with<br />

a decade of service as Montana’s IV-D Director. As president of her company, Mary<br />

Ann Wellbank, LLC, she specializes in consulting, writing, and research. She possesses<br />

a B.A. in English and an M.B.A. in finance. Mary Ann and her colleague, Jeff Ball, coauthored<br />

a book, “The Insiders’ Guide to Child Support: How the System Works,” a<br />

valuable resource for parents and child support professionals who need to know the<br />

nuts and bolts of the IV-D program.

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