October 2023 NCSEA CSQ

Quarterly newsletter containing articles and news of interest for professionals working in the IV-D child support program.

Quarterly newsletter containing articles and news of interest for professionals working in the IV-D child support program.


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Child Support CommuniQue<br />

<strong>October</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

Table of Contents<br />

<strong>October</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

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

Community Corner: A Fight for Fatherhood ...................................……. 6<br />

Collecting Child Support in a Gig Economy and a Virtual World ............ 10<br />

Enhancing Safety for DV Survivors:<br />

Perspectives from Oklahoma and Minnesota ........................................ 19<br />

OCSS Digital Marketing Grants Summary:<br />

Simple and Direct Communication is Key ………………………………… 26<br />

Transformation and Innovation in Child Support:<br />

From Coast to Coast ……………………………………………………….. 32<br />

Cost of Domestic Violence Impacts the Economy ………………………. 38<br />

Leadership Symposium <strong>2023</strong> Recap:<br />

Golden Opportunities in Leadership ……….................……………......... 44<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> U Spotlight ……………………………………….......................... 47

Erin Frisch,<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> President<br />

Greetings, <strong>NCSEA</strong>!<br />

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”<br />

This proverb keeps resonating with me as I think about the coming year<br />

and reflect on the power of community. Our <strong>NCSEA</strong> community is strong<br />

and vibrant, with over 150 volunteers across more than 15 committees<br />

working to inspire, support, and engage child support professionals across<br />

the country (and the world!). My sincere thanks to all who have agreed to<br />

lead and serve on committees this year–you are the connection points that<br />

hold our community together.<br />

I’m both honored and humbled to serve as your president, especially<br />

following my friend Jim Fleming. I want to thank Jim again for his<br />

leadership and stewardship of this organization. We are starting the year in<br />

a great place, thanks to him. One of the many things Jim led was the<br />

creation of a set of federal legislative proposals. We will continue to refine<br />

and look for opportunities to advance our legislative agenda in the coming<br />

year.<br />

Building community is only possible when folks choose to show up with<br />

openness, concern for one another, and willingness to engage. As you<br />

think about your role in reaching our shared vision of a world where every<br />

child receives reliable financial and emotional support, I encourage you to<br />

take advantage of the opportunities to engage with your peers and<br />

colleagues through any of the many <strong>NCSEA</strong> offerings. You can attend<br />

Policy Forum and Leadership Symposium to connect and learn in person,<br />

listen to a podcast or web talk to hear what others are doing and get to

know them, or join an affinity group through <strong>NCSEA</strong> Connects to build<br />

relationships with like-minded folks, just to name a few. There’s a place for<br />

you here.<br />

I’ve also been thinking about our program’s role in the communities where<br />

we live and serve. As we continue to shift to a more family-centered<br />

program, I’m encouraged by the work I’ve seen to engage with parents and<br />

caregivers about what they need and how child support can help. The<br />

market research co-sponsored by <strong>NCSEA</strong> is a great example of asking<br />

families directly about what they know, rather than us making assumptions.<br />

One of my goals for <strong>NCSEA</strong> is to lead by example in building community<br />

with those we serve, as well as agencies and organizations that serve<br />

many of the same families. One of the wonderful things about community is<br />

that we can help people in ways we can’t alone when the resources, work,<br />

and responsibilities are shared.<br />

Last year, under President Fleming’s leadership, the board drafted and<br />

provisionally approved a statement of our commitment to diversity, equity,<br />

and inclusion. At last month’s Leadership Symposium, we asked<br />

conference participants to weigh in on the draft statement and received a<br />

solid positive response! The board will finalize the statement at our next<br />

meeting. You can find the statement on our website here: <strong>NCSEA</strong> Pledge to<br />

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.<br />

While a commitment statement is a good start, we all know that it’s only as<br />

good as the actions that follow. I have made an intentional effort to fill<br />

leadership positions on committees with folks who represent the diversity of<br />

our membership. Committee charges this year include requests to keep<br />

accessibility, belonging, inclusion, diversity, and equity (or what I’ve<br />

unofficially turned into the acronym ABIDE) at the forefront. I also have<br />

some ideas on how we can listen to and learn from families, and for<br />

understanding and reckoning with very real inequities and disparities that<br />

can affect outcomes and experiences of those we serve.<br />

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to recognize and thank Chris<br />

Wood, our new Executive Director (ED). Chris comes to us with a long<br />

history of working with associations such as ours, and I look forward to

walking alongside him this first year as ED as we work together to lead<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong>. Chris doesn’t do it alone, however! We have an incredible team<br />

that includes Katie Kenney and Amalia Paul, who work with Chris to keep<br />

our organization running smoothly–they are so appreciated!<br />

I have experienced tremendous personal and professional growth because<br />

of my membership in this community, and I really do love what we have cocreated<br />

together. It is remarkable to me that while we don’t always agree,<br />

we care about each other and this work, and that is what keeps us in it. It is<br />

my privilege to do for this community whatever I can. I hope to meet and<br />

get to know more of you this year, and want to extend a warm invitation to<br />

introduce yourself and share your “why” for working in child support if you<br />

see me out and about. Community is not just about belonging; it’s about<br />

doing something together that makes belonging matter. What we are doing<br />

here matters more than we can measure. I look forward to the year ahead<br />

as we work together to promote and influence child support policy and<br />

practice and educate, connect, and inspire each other.<br />

Erin Frisch<br />

Erin Frisch has served as the Director of the Office of Child Support at the Michigan Department of Health<br />

and Human Services (MDHHS) since 2012. In this role she is responsible for paternity and child support<br />

court order establishment, order modification and enforcement, and locating parents for over 700,000<br />

children and families. She also co-leads the MDHHS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council—a role she<br />

has had since 2019. Erin served from 2019-2020 as Senior Chief Deputy Director for Opportunity at<br />

MDHHS where she oversaw the children’s services agency, the bureau of community services, and the<br />

economic stability administration and focused on integration between public assistance programs and<br />

health, community services, child support and child welfare to reduce poverty for Michiganders. Erin is a<br />

former President of the National Council of Child Support Directors and is the current President of the<br />

National Child Support Engagement Association. Erin graduated from James Madison College at Michigan<br />

State University and has a son and a daughter.

A Fight for Fatherhood<br />

by Sharmain Harris, Owner, Sharmain Harris &<br />

Associates<br />

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at the annual <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy<br />

Forum. This was my first time attending and let me just say that, although<br />

I've been working in the field for eight years, I learned so much at the<br />

conference. It was filled with information and insight I hadn't heard before.<br />

The sponsors, speakers, and attendees were amazing. Eight months later,<br />

I am still riding the wave of excitement I gained from the conference.<br />

During my presentation, I focused on my journey from gang life and prison<br />

to my change after becoming a father. In 2009, I was convicted of<br />

manufacturing and delivering cocaine. After serving a one-year sentence in<br />

the county jail, I came back hoping to change. Unfortunately, I didn't. A year<br />

later I went back to jail and in November 2011, I was sentenced to five<br />

years in prison. It would<br />

take a challenging<br />

incarceration program<br />

to facilitate change in<br />

my life. Unlike many<br />

others, I was fortunate<br />

not to have any<br />

children during these<br />

challenging times in my<br />

life.<br />

When I returned in 2013, my girlfriend (now wife) became pregnant with my<br />

first biological son. During her entire pregnancy, I struggled not only with<br />

the fear of becoming a father but the fear of being a felon and trying to

support a family. I can't count how many times I was let go from jobs, the<br />

problems I faced with my parole agent, and the denied applications for<br />

rental properties. When my son was born in January 2014, I knew I had to<br />

make some major changes in life, and that's exactly what I did.<br />

When my son was about ten months old, I went to the local Women,<br />

Infants, and Children (W.I.C.) office for an appointment. That appointment<br />

led to a volunteer role, that role led to a part-time job, and eventually a fulltime<br />

job as a father involvement coordinator. This was my genesis to<br />

success. As I worked with fathers, I felt I found my calling in life. As a new<br />

father, I was simply sharing my joys, rewards, and pains of fatherhood. The<br />

fathers gravitated toward me because they could see themselves in me. As<br />

I listened to their concerns and issues, I realized I had no idea how much<br />

fathers go through. Every day was a new challenge for me to help fathers. I<br />

would spend hours on the phone finding them resources in the community<br />

and connecting them with their child support agents.<br />

Not long after, we partnered with the local child support agency, and the<br />

program grew in numbers from the referrals received. The program also<br />

grew after a highly publicized newspaper article in the Kenosha News that<br />

featured the district attorney, my sentencing judge in court, and me. I was<br />

back in court for a sentence modification that would remove me from parole<br />

four years earlier than expected. Enrollment and attendance for the<br />

Dedicated Dads Program skyrocketed after that, and almost every formerly<br />

incarcerated father joined my program. Since then, I've earned both my<br />

bachelor's and master's degrees in business, received numerous awards,<br />

and even became an adjunct professor teaching criminal justice. Most<br />

notably, I was granted a full pardon from the Governor of Wisconsin and<br />

had all my rights restored. I never would've imagined my life would be like<br />

this when I was gangbanging and selling drugs.

When I mentioned my pardon on stage at the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy Forum, I<br />

received a standing ovation from the entire audience. As the emotions<br />

overwhelmed me, I knew at that moment I was walking in my purpose.<br />

Being granted a pardon by the highest office of the state put the icing on<br />

"My goal is to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come."<br />

the cake for my career. While I am truly honored to receive such a<br />

prestigious award, it is not my greatest accomplishment. My greatest<br />

accomplishment was becoming a father. Before that, I was selfish and<br />

couldn't care less about my life or anyone else's. As a father, I know that<br />

my every action has the potential to impact my children, their children, and<br />

their children's children. My goal is to leave a lasting legacy for generations<br />

to come.<br />

A question I am often asked after my speeches is, “Wow! What was it that<br />

made you change?” My reply is always, “Becoming a father.” Like many<br />

others, I was once labeled only as a felon. However, since finding my<br />

identity as a father, husband, and businessman, I decided to use my story<br />

to impact and inspire people across the nation.

Sharmain Harris is a national speaker and author who shares his expertise in fatherhood and prison<br />

reentry. After serving time in prison, Sharmain returned to society determined and destined to succeed. His<br />

turnaround from prison to purpose has given hope to the 600,000 men and women returning from prison<br />

every year. His passion to strengthen families through father involvement has inspired change in family<br />

services organizations around the nation. As the owner of Sharmain Harris & Associates, Sharmain<br />

continues to use his platform to spread a message of hope, change, and perseverance through<br />

inspirational speeches, training, and workshops throughout the nation.

Collecting Child Support in a Gig<br />

Economy and a Virtual World<br />

by Wally McClure, <strong>NCSEA</strong> Research Subcommittee Co-leader,<br />

with assistance from subcommittee members: Chris Breen, Paul<br />

Gehm, Susan Saelee, Susan Smith, Jeremiah Stephan, and Jane<br />

Venohr<br />

For several years now, child support professionals<br />

have wondered how the “gig economy” would<br />

affect agencies’ ability to establish accurate orders<br />

and collect on them. In May 2022, the federal<br />

Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) released<br />

“Noncustodial Parents and the Gig Economy,”<br />

which explains the kind of work included in this new<br />

paradigm, and explores the question of just how<br />

many parents owing support are participating in<br />

various forms of contract work. While there is not<br />

an exact definition of “gig work,” it generally<br />

focuses on a work arrangement where gig workers<br />

contract with and provide services for individuals or<br />

companies on a short-term, temporary basis, or<br />

perform project-based work. i<br />

Results from a 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics<br />

study estimated about 10% of workers rely on independent contract work of<br />

one sort or another as their primary source of income. ii OCSS’s article<br />

suggests that number is a conservative estimate and that about 14% of

noncustodial parents are relying on the gig economy as their primary<br />

source of income.<br />

“The rise of the gig economy and self-employment has led to<br />

numerous challenges for the child support community.”<br />

The rise of the gig economy and self-employment has led to numerous<br />

challenges for the child support community. The primary challenges are<br />

learning of the income for the setting of support or for enforcement, and<br />

then determining how to collect against that income. Last year, the National<br />

Child Support Engagement Association (<strong>NCSEA</strong>) Research Subcommittee<br />

asked child support agencies what solutions they were using to identify<br />

sources of income and collect from parents who earned money outside of<br />

traditional employment. While collecting from the self-employed is hardly a<br />

new challenge in the child support world, the recent proliferation of such<br />

income sources raised the stakes on child support professionals’ ability to<br />

provide regular support to children and families. To add an additional layer<br />

of complexity, new alternatives to the traditional monetary system allow<br />

these same parents to receive their earnings in cryptocurrency, leaving<br />

child support agencies wondering how to attach earnings. The Research<br />

Subcommittee surveyed state child support directors and reached out<br />

directly to a handful of agencies. However, responses were quite limited,<br />

which tells us that the child support community is still learning how to best<br />

identify income and collect from those who:<br />

• Earn from platform businesses—businesses that provide a simple,<br />

on-line method for finding a product or service. Think Uber,<br />

DoorDash, InstaCart, Airbnb, Angi, Etsy, and Shopify.<br />

• Earn passive income from advertising on web pages.<br />

• Supplement income by participating in cash back programs,<br />

responding to surveys, or reviewing and rating products and<br />

services.<br />

• Create and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs).<br />

• Invest in virtual products, including cryptocurrency, NFTs, or even<br />

virtual real estate.

In addition to the introduction of more non-wage options for earners as a<br />

result of technological innovations and entrepreneurship, the onset of the<br />

COVID pandemic in 2020 significantly changed the source of collections for<br />

child support. iii The graphs below compare wage withholding to total<br />

distributions over seven years. iv<br />

Wage Withholding Compared to<br />

Total Distributions 2015-2021<br />

$ Wage Withholding Total Distributed Collections<br />

$40,000,000,000<br />

$35,000,000,000<br />

$30,000,000,000<br />

$25,000,000,000<br />

$20,000,000,000<br />

$15,000,000,000<br />

$10,000,000,000<br />

$5,000,000,000<br />

$0<br />

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021<br />

(Total Collections from Withholding from Table P-28. Total distribution is the sum of<br />

Tables P-4 and P-24 from the OCSS Preliminary Data Reports for 2019 and 2021.)<br />

80.00%<br />

Percent of Total Distribution from Wage Withholding<br />

75.00%<br />

70.00%<br />

65.00%<br />

60.00%<br />

55.00%<br />

50.00%<br />

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021<br />

Another seemingly related factor may be the “Great Resignation” of many<br />

workers who decided to leave or not return to their jobs. While selfemployment<br />

is on the rise and income withholding is down, definitive data<br />

about the child support caseload is not yet available, so it remains unclear

whether parents in the child support caseload are supplementing their<br />

income with gig work.<br />

State Results<br />

Only three states were able to provide insight into how they are collecting<br />

from the new generation of self-employed. These methods, described<br />

below, range from the “tried and true” to the “innovative.”<br />

North Dakota<br />

Because North Dakota has no data matches with<br />

platform providers like Uber or Lyft, they rely on<br />

learning about such self-employment from other<br />

sources such as the custodial parent or the obligor, in<br />

response to either a license suspension action or<br />

questioning during a contempt hearing. Upon discovering a source of<br />

income, the agency sends an income withholding order (IWO) to the<br />

income payer because North Dakota’s definition of “income” is not limited<br />

to wages. Says North Dakota Child Support Enforcement Director Jim<br />

Fleming, “We may not know what the parent is earning, but when they<br />

aren’t paying, we have tools that are at our disposal to take the next steps<br />

to obtain payment or take enforcement action.”<br />

Virginia<br />

To successfully obtain a child support order in Virginia<br />

for individuals who do not have detectable income,<br />

child support professionals must be diligent in<br />

researching and asking questions to determine the<br />

individual’s ability to pay.<br />

Christy Price-Townsend is a Program Services Coordinator for Virginia’s<br />

Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). Christy has worked directly<br />

with case participants whose sole source of income is cash rebates and<br />

couponing. According to a 2019 NBC News article, v many businesses,<br />

such as Amazon and Zale’s, will pay customers to buy from them. To claim<br />

cash, individuals use platforms such as BeFrugal or Retailmenot to make<br />

purchases. The average cash back rebate can range from four to six<br />


Christy advised that her unit has observed some individuals earning<br />

between $1,500 and $2,000 per month. They will stack several coupons<br />

and rebates to get an item essentially for free, then sell the item, gaining a<br />

significant profit. In Christy’s experience, this particular subset of payers will<br />

likely make child support payments that are sporadic and inconsistent in<br />

amount.<br />

While interviewing case participants, Christy recommends asking probing<br />

questions around how they have been getting by (paying their rent, etc.),<br />

which allows her to extract information and determine their ability to pay.<br />

However, not everyone is forthcoming about how they earn a living. This<br />

elusiveness is made more difficult in an era where customers are exploring<br />

alternative methods of employment and receiving payment, such as<br />

through cash or bitcoin.<br />

Christy is diligent in researching information on participants. She<br />

determines their prior work history, earning history, and skillset. She also<br />

asks anyone who may have insider knowledge of a case participant’s<br />

earnings. She shared an example of a participant who refused to share<br />

income information. However, through diligence and research she was able<br />

to determine that the individual had at one time worked as a hairstylist.<br />

From there she was able to locate where that individual worked as a<br />

contractor, operating a booth and offering cosmetic services. She also<br />

determined how the individual obtained a client list, the services rendered,<br />

and the money earned based on fees established at a set rate. Compiling<br />

this information allowed Christy to run guidelines and demonstrate an<br />

ability to pay.<br />

When asked about her success in enforcing orders established using this<br />

“ability to pay” research, Christy added that building trust and effective<br />

communication with the case participants are critical. She has found<br />

success in being transparent about the child support process while<br />

educating case participants every step of the way. She finds that most<br />

people want to support their children; they simply want to pay an amount<br />

that won’t negatively impact their ability to maintain a decent living. Christy<br />

also prefers to communicate jointly with both parties as much as possible,<br />

versus juggling individual dialogues with each parent.<br />

When asked if she saw any barriers in the child support program that are<br />

challenging for customers who earn undetectable income, Christy’s<br />

response was, “Yes, many of the case participants in this situation have a

distrust for the program and don’t want to share information for fear of the<br />

negative consequences that may come their way.” That’s why it’s important<br />

to build trust through customer service. Christy provides every resource<br />

available so that she can assist people in meeting their obligations and<br />

avoiding delinquent payments.<br />

Virginia DCSE has several programs to help participants, such as Family<br />

Engagement Services (FES), which addresses the underlying issues that<br />

impact the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay. In addition to FES, Virginia<br />

has implemented Alternatives to Contempt (ATC), using the Procedural<br />

Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) model of casework,<br />

which consists of case assessment, outreach and engagement, enhanced<br />

investigation, case conference, and case management and services.<br />

Engagement involves both non-custodial and custodial parents. This<br />

relationship between the caseworker and the parents is infused with<br />

principles of procedural justice and is the common thread that runs through<br />

all aspects of service delivery. vi<br />

Washington<br />

Andrea Henderson leads Washington state’s Special<br />

Collections Unit (WA SCU). She explained that the rise<br />

in gig economy work has caused her unit to strategize<br />

on how to find out when someone is participating in<br />

these activities. She says it has been difficult to<br />

develop any kind of reporting or automated process from outside sources.<br />

They tried to get OCSS to revive the old IRS 1099 report vii but was<br />

informed it was no longer available. They are unaware of any other federal<br />

resources.<br />

“Of course, some staff have more experience about the topic than<br />

others, and that experience may affect the success of<br />

establishment or collection on a particular case.”<br />

Like North Dakota, in most instances the caseworker becomes aware of<br />

possible self-employment from the custodial parent or non-custodial parent<br />

and researchers from there. Of course, some staff have more experience<br />

about the topic than others, and that experience may affect the success of

establishment or collection on a particular case. Sometimes caseworkers<br />

reach out for assistance from the Special Collections Unit.<br />

“So far what we have found is two elements to explore,” Andrea explains.<br />

“One, how to determine if someone is self-employed or involved in the socalled<br />

gig economy. There are a lot of options to explore. The early ones<br />

like Door Dash and Uber have been hit or miss. But there are other ways to<br />

make money nowadays such as online commerce (Etsy, Amazon), social<br />

media influencers (YouTUBE, Only Fans), and content creators or<br />

freelancers on platforms like FIVERR. These all have to be explored to find<br />

out the nuances of how they operate. Which then leads to the second<br />

element, how these folks actually get paid. Alternatives to traditional<br />

paychecks and bank accounts have . . . become huge, and most of these<br />

people are paid that way. Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal are all ways<br />

people can be paid and are not reported like a normal bank account.”<br />

Andrea suggests it will likely take changes in federal or state regulation to<br />

make those accounts reportable.<br />

The Special Collections Unit has brainstormed some of the following ideas<br />

to explore:<br />

• Recently Washington Employment Security paid out back payments for<br />

a program called MEUC (Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation).<br />

This program was for people that had both self-employed earnings and<br />

regular employment earnings. The WA SCU received a list of applicants<br />

and cross-referenced them with the child support system to identify<br />

parents who met the program criteria. These parents could be involved<br />

in the gig economy. The unit is analyzing the data.<br />

• WA SCU is exploring existing reports from the Washington Department<br />

of Revenue on businesses associated with a parent who owes support.<br />

This is assuming the parent went through the effort of creating a<br />

business and obtaining a license, as required of all contractors in the<br />

state. They are also researching how to learn about any banking<br />

associated with the business, such as how they paid their business and<br />

occupation taxes.<br />

• Recently, the Special Collections Unit created a workgroup to look at revamping<br />

the Little Black Book (the division’s employer database) to gear

it more towards self-employment and gig economy resources. The unit<br />

will be looking to establish best practices and contact resources for<br />

these places so that when the agency becomes aware of a parent<br />

involved with gig economy practices, they don’t have to do a lot of<br />

research on how to best contact their income source. This may lead to<br />

some sort of database of contacts for places like Venmo and Cash App<br />

and help WA SCU establish policy and procedures around how and<br />

when they can pursue collection.<br />

WA SCU has worked some test cases. Their protocol has been to research<br />

the parent’s business or online presence and the associated rules around<br />

how and when they get paid. Depending on the results of that research,<br />

they either issue a subpoena for account information to gauge collection<br />

potential or issue an Order to Withhold and Deliver if they believe there are<br />

assets worth pursuing.<br />

“Obviously,” Andrea explains, “this is case specific and sometimes we need<br />

to adjust our approach or try other enforcement actions.” She adds, “So far<br />

this has been a slow process and I feel like we are still trying to catch up<br />

with the changing times! It is a passion of mine, and my staff are very<br />

driven to explore this more.”<br />

Promising Practices and Next Steps<br />

The child support program relies primarily on new hire<br />

reporting and automated interfaces with various agencies to<br />

identify amounts and sources of income. According to the<br />

OCSS Intergovernmental Reference Guide, about 22<br />

programs now include contractors in their new hire reporting<br />

regulations to help address that challenge, with varying<br />

thresholds for when to report. (Some states encourage voluntary reporting<br />

of contractors although state law does not require it.) Even with that<br />

assistance, child support case managers will need to rely on investigative<br />

techniques and interviewing to discover income sources for many parents.

“By building a trusting relationship with case participants, states<br />

like Virginia, Washington, and North Dakota have been able to learn<br />

a parent’s sources of income with careful questioning.”<br />

By building a trusting relationship with case participants, states like Virginia,<br />

Washington, and North Dakota have been able to learn a parent’s sources<br />

of income with careful questioning.<br />

Some possible changes in regulation or statute that could help child<br />

support professionals improve their ability to identify and attach these<br />

sources might include:<br />

• Broadening the definitions of financial institutions to include<br />

applications such as PayPal and Venmo so that they are required to<br />

participate in FIDM reporting.<br />

• Universally requiring the reporting of contractors, including platform<br />

companies such as DoorDash, Uber, and InstaCart.<br />

• Making the IRS 1099 available again or finding a suitable substitute.<br />

i<br />

Sorensen, Elaine, “Noncustodial Parents and the Gig Economy.” U.S. Department of Health and Human<br />

Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Support Services, May 2022,<br />

www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ocse/noncustodial_parents_and_gig_economy.pdf<br />

(Accessed 11 Oct. <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

ii<br />

“Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements.” Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release, 7<br />

June 2018, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/conemp.htm (Accessed 11 Oct. <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

iii<br />

Most of the change occurring during the pandemic was a result of increased federal offsets and<br />

unemployment insurance collections. Income withholding declined during the pandemic and remains low.<br />

It is unclear if income withholding will rebound, as it did following the 2008 recession, or if it will remain<br />

low into the foreseeable future.<br />

iv<br />

From the OCSS (formerly OCSE) 2019 and 2021 Preliminary Data Reports<br />

v<br />

Weisbaum, Herb. “How to Use Cash Back Portals to Make Money While You Shop.” NBC News, 20 Nov.<br />

2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/cash-back-portals-what-you-need-know-about-gettingpaid-ncna1085841<br />

(Accessed 11 Oct. <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

vi<br />

For more on PJAC, see Office of Child Support Services’ PJAC Research Briefs and Reports,<br />

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/outreach-material/pjac-research-briefs.<br />

vii<br />

The IRS 1099 is a discontinued annual report that was provided to child support agencies. The report<br />

included income and address data on the self-employed.<br />

Wally McClure has worked in child support for over 30 years and is now an independent consultant for<br />

child support agencies. He is an active member of <strong>NCSEA</strong> and was the co-leader of the 2022-23 Research<br />


Enhancing Safety for DV Survivors:<br />

Perspectives from Oklahoma and Minnesota<br />

by Annie Gullo and Anita Rydberg, Oklahoma Child Support<br />

Services<br />

Domestic violence is an epidemic in our country, our states, and our own<br />

communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<br />

(CDC), more than 40% of women experience domestic violence in their<br />

lifetime. i Oklahoma ranks second in the nation in the number of women<br />

killed by men. ii Domestic violence will only rise to the level that our<br />

community allows, and it is everyone’s responsibility to stop the epidemic.<br />

Financial stability is a major factor for someone trying to escape domestic<br />

violence. Economic security can help build a life free from abuse. Child<br />

support creates a pathway to financial stability for survivors of domestic<br />

violence, breaking down a major barrier as a result. Ninety percent of<br />

survivors report that they want to pursue child support if it is safe for them<br />

to do so. Because of this, it is important to make child support services<br />

available and safe, especially for survivors of domestic violence.<br />

The U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recognizes the<br />

role child support plays in ending domestic violence. In 2022, ACF awarded<br />

the Safe Access for Victims’ Economic Security (SAVES) grant to twelve<br />

states and one tribe. The SAVES grant is a five-year demonstration project<br />

that supports child support agencies across the nation in their effort to<br />

provide safe access to child support services. Thanks to this grant,

Oklahoma is building pathways to trauma-informed services that will<br />

enhance families’ economic independence.<br />

SAVES grant funding has allowed<br />

Oklahoma Child Support Services<br />

(CSS) to instill hope for customers and<br />

personnel and has increased safety by<br />

bringing awareness and understanding<br />

of child support protections. After<br />

receiving the SAVES grant, Oklahoma<br />

CSS successfully created a specialized domestic violence team referred to<br />

as Protection and Access Toward Hope-Centered Support (PATHS), which<br />

focuses on program updates, policy changes, and enhanced training<br />

opportunities for staff.<br />

“There are several flashpoints for violence throughout a child<br />

support case, including initiation of a case, genetic testing,<br />

enforcement, and modification.”<br />

In conjunction with awareness, Oklahoma is dedicated to displaying the<br />

importance of culturally specific domestic violence training and tools for<br />

employees through community engagement and intentional collaboration<br />

with domestic violence service providers. Prior to the SAVES grant,<br />

Oklahoma did not have enough staffing capacity to be embedded with<br />

domestic violence services providers. Moving forward, a PATHS team<br />

member will be at Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center a minimum of<br />

one day each week for face-to-face connection with survivors.<br />

To foster collaborative efforts, Oklahoma PATHS facilitates a Domestic<br />

Violence Council, which also serves as the advisory board to the grant.<br />

This group is composed of individuals from different divisions within<br />

Oklahoma Human Services, in addition to other critical stakeholders in the<br />

community, including domestic violence experts and the Attorney General’s<br />

Office. The Domestic Violence Council was formed before grant funding<br />

was awarded, but the grant has strengthened relationships within the<br />

council and provided more partner resources.

There are several flashpoints for violence throughout a child support case,<br />

including initiation of a case, genetic testing, enforcement, and<br />

modification. Because of this, it is critical to build safety nets throughout the<br />

process to encourage survivors’ protection. One initiative that Oklahoma<br />

had in place prior to the SAVES grant is virtual administrative court<br />

hearings, which allow survivors to avoid contact with their abuser in person.<br />

In addition, thanks to the grant, Oklahoma is able to support individual<br />

safety plans surrounding court hearings.<br />

“The PATHS team is building training around the use of the FVI and<br />

has gathered a group of domestic violence liaisons located<br />

throughout the state to support their local CSS office and personnel<br />

in prioritizing safety for customers.”<br />

Survivors of domestic violence may not always find it safe to engage with<br />

law enforcement and the court system or to seek medical treatment for<br />

abuse-related injuries. Consequently, survivors may lack formal<br />

documentation such as police reports, medical records, victims’ protective<br />

orders (VPOs), letters from service providers, or other supporting<br />

paperwork to substantiate a good cause exemption claim. Oklahoma has<br />

taken this into consideration and no longer requires supporting documents.<br />

Now a sworn statement from survivors is accepted.<br />

Before receiving the SAVES grant, Oklahoma CSS<br />

observed a need for programming updates in its<br />

computer system. The Family Violence Indicator (FVI)<br />

alone, used in offices throughout the nation, is not<br />

enough to protect survivors. As a result, Oklahoma is<br />

educating customers on the use of the FVI and what can<br />

be done in conjunction to build an individualized safety<br />

plan. In addition to the existing FVI, a new indicator has been created to<br />

notify staff that a case has high risk of domestic violence leading to lethality<br />

and they need to stop before proceeding with any actions. Customers are<br />

being provided with local domestic violence resources, counseling services,<br />

and support for seeking VPOs. The PATHS team is building training around<br />

the use of the FVI and has gathered a group of domestic violence liaisons<br />

located throughout the state to support their local CSS office and personnel<br />

in prioritizing safety for customers.

Prior to the SAVES grant, Oklahoma had a dedicated but limited team<br />

striving to enhance safety measures for survivors of domestic violence.<br />

These efforts were faced with limited funding, which hampered progress.<br />

With the SAVES grant’s arrival, new funding resources have enabled<br />

Oklahoma to hire additional staff members exclusively dedicated to<br />

domestic violence initiatives. The existing team members and new staff<br />

now comprise the Uber Triage Team. In addition, a volunteer liaison team<br />

was developed and consists of over 30 professionals positioned throughout<br />

the state. Their collective focus is on the continual review and<br />

enhancement of practices, training, and policy related to domestic violence.<br />

The grant has brought about a transformative shift, enabling Oklahoma to<br />

pursue projects that were often unattainable, and it has championed a spirit<br />

of collaboration, actively involving survivors in these crucial initiatives.<br />

Previously, Oklahoma had several lived experience experts (survivors of<br />

domestic violence) on the team, as well as the Domestic Violence Council,<br />

to help guide the process in a way only survivors can do. Since receiving<br />

the grant and hiring new personnel, more survivors have been added to the<br />

team of child support professionals. Oklahoma envisions adding lived<br />

experience experts from outside CSS to act as consultants and<br />

collaborative partners while continuing to create a system safe for<br />

survivors.<br />

Collaborating with Minnesota<br />

Minnesota, which was also awarded the SAVES grant, has<br />

begun the process of recruiting survivors from outside the<br />

agency. Here is what Minnesota had to say when interviewed<br />

by Oklahoma about their survivor involvement:<br />

OK: What does victim/survivor involvement and participation<br />

look like for your state or tribe in the context of this grant?<br />

MN: Originally, we had planned our structure to include four<br />

survivors as lived experience expert members on our council<br />

and subcommittees. Thanks to an overwhelming amount of<br />

interest, we are thankful to bring on six survivors as members in<br />

our first year. We will be working with our advisory council<br />

members and partners to build a plan for survivor engagement<br />

throughout the cycle of this grant and have plans to convene<br />

focus groups at the onset of our work. Survivor representation

will be a core element of a SAVES equity plan developed by the<br />

advisory council, and we have started to support this work by<br />

learning about DV 101 and survivor-centered facilitation and<br />

processes in support.<br />

OK: Can you tell us about your victim/survivor recruitment<br />

process if you have one?<br />

MN: We decided early on to compensate survivors at the same<br />

hourly pay rate as the members representing nonprofits on our<br />

advisory council, and we worked internally to set up<br />

subcontracting for their compensation to ensure survivor safety<br />

and privacy. With the input of our training and technical<br />

assistance partners, we opted to create a recruitment flyer that<br />

victims/survivors could respond to with interest in lieu of a<br />

written application process. In tandem with our DV and legal<br />

partners, we then screened for the basic qualifications and<br />

developed a phone interview protocol to ensure safety and<br />

representation. Within two weeks of our flyer being distributed<br />

in our partnership networks, we had 26 interviews scheduled<br />

with interested and eligible survivors. Over the course of two<br />

phone interviews, we learned about their experiences<br />

accessing or choosing not to access child support because of<br />

safety concerns, and we are honored that so many chose to<br />

share their stories with us. We also discussed the SAVES<br />

grant, compensation, safety/care planning, and time/scheduling<br />

for informed commitments from our survivors.<br />

OK: What have you learned so far from incorporating those<br />

with lived experience in this work?<br />

MN: We found there is a great desire to “make changes so someone<br />

else doesn’t have to go through what I went through,” to<br />

paraphrase our survivors. We also wrapped up our interviews<br />

with over a dozen survivors willing to participate in focus groups<br />

or other engagement opportunities, illustrating both the need for<br />

and willingness to provide lived experience in our policy and<br />

practice design and evaluation. We also heard initial concerns<br />

about how the survivor experience would be valued and<br />

supported in a space of industry professionals and are working<br />

to build relationships and trust at the onset in response. We are<br />

learning that having a survivor-centered process means

Looking Forward<br />

structuring and convening our work in ways we may not be<br />

used to and often at a slower pace.<br />

In light of the growth and progress in the first year of grant<br />

funding, Oklahoma’s vision expands into the future with even<br />

more ambitious goals. Notable endeavors include hosting a<br />

Domestic Violence Symposium for all Oklahoma Human Services divisions<br />

along with providing connection and resources for caseworkers and<br />

leadership. As previously emphasized, it is important to include survivors<br />

and compensate them fairly. Oklahoma will focus on determining how to<br />

best include survivors in these changes.<br />

Looking ahead, one of the most significant rewards will come at the<br />

conclusion of the five-year grant funding. This project will leave Oklahoma<br />

equipped with a deeper understanding of how to ensure the safety of<br />

survivors with ongoing cases. Together, with our collective power, we will<br />

help combat the issue of domestic violence and foster healing and<br />

empowerment to those who need it.

i<br />

“Fast Facts: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence.” Centers for Disease Control and<br />

Prevention, 11 Oct. 2022,<br />

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/fastfact.html. Accessed 10 Oct.<br />

<strong>2023</strong>.<br />

ii<br />

“When Men Murder Women.” Violence Policy Center, Sept. 2022, vpc.org/when-men-murderwomen/.<br />

Accessed 10 Oct. <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Annie Gullo is the Lead Domestic Violence Caseworker for Oklahoma Child Support Services and began<br />

her journey in child support at the beginning of <strong>2023</strong>. Prior to working with child support, Annie was in Child<br />

Welfare for close to seven years and felt the calling to focus specifically on domestic violence efforts in her<br />

state. Since joining CSS, she has spoken at conferences, strengthened partnerships with local agencies,<br />

and provided trauma-informed care to survivors of domestic violence, among other accomplishments.<br />

Anita Rydberg currently works for Oklahoma Child Support Services. She serves as the SAVES Grant<br />

Manager, overseeing a grant to assist survivors of domestic violence in safely accessing child support<br />

services. She has worked in the domestic violence field for over 17 years and is dedicated to providing<br />

pathways to hope and healing for survivors in our community. Anita is a Certified Domestic and Sexual<br />

Violence Response Professional and serves on the Oklahoma County Domestic Violence Post-Adjudication<br />

Review Board.

OCSS Digital Marketing Grants Summary:<br />

Simple and Direct Communication is Key<br />

by Emily Gregg, Child Support Policy, Compliance, and Case<br />

Resolution Director, Tennessee Child Support Services Division,<br />

Department of Human Services<br />

The federal Office of Child Support Services (OCSS)<br />

awarded funds to 14 child support agencies in 2018 to<br />

test digital marketing approaches to reach parents<br />

who could benefit from IV-D services. Grants were<br />

awarded to twelve state and two tribal child support<br />

agencies in California, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan,<br />

Minnesota, Oklahoma (Cherokee Nation), Texas,<br />

Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin (Lac Courte Oreilles<br />

Band of Lake Superior Indians), and Wyoming. i<br />

The digital marketing projects took place at various times, depending on<br />

the agency, between September 2018 and September 2021. ii They<br />

provided insightful lessons on whom to target for marketing, what tools to<br />

use, and takeaways from the agencies involved.<br />

Digital Marketing Grant Population and Enrollment Focus<br />

Digital marketing grantees found that they were more likely to reach people<br />

who could genuinely benefit from and were interested in IV-D services if<br />

they targeted particular audiences for their digital marketing campaigns. At<br />

least five of the grantees focused on specific populations within their state,<br />

county, or tribe when designing their digital marketing campaigns.

California selected three counties to participate in the grant program<br />

based on the low percentages of “never assisted” cases in their caseload<br />

compared with the “single parent” population of those counties as reported<br />

in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey.<br />

Michigan targeted low-income, unmarried women from 18 to 44 years of<br />

age with children. Michigan specifically targeted six counties within the<br />

state to help increase applications for services.<br />

Sacramento County, California focused on CalFresh or Medi-Cal<br />

recipients for a narrowed email campaign to seek new customers.<br />

Virginia focused on localities where the IV-D caseload was out of<br />

alignment with unmarried births by cross-referencing census data with their<br />

IV-D caseload. This approach led to a targeted digital marketing campaign<br />

in 21 counties and 19 cities.<br />

Washington State took a unique approach and partnered with school<br />

districts (100 elementary schools in 29 zip codes).<br />

Strategies States Took to Engage Potential Customers<br />

Grantees chose a variety of marketing strategies to engage potential<br />

enrollees in their services. The most common strategies included<br />

redesigning the agency’s website, paying for social media advertisements,<br />

using email campaigns, and establishing a brand or message for the<br />


Redesigning Agency’s Website. The California Child Support Services<br />

website went from hundreds of pages with heavy text to a simplified 45<br />

pages of content. Colorado redesigned its website by “improving the site’s<br />

readability, functionality, and overall user experience.” This website<br />

redesign prompted a 75% increase in application downloads. iii Both the<br />

Cherokee Nation and Lac Courte Oreilles developed new websites for their<br />

child support programs with new URLs. Wyoming launched a new,<br />

improved website with enhanced search engine optimization.<br />

Creating New Electronic Applications. Minnesota created an electronic form<br />

for people to sign up for services online instead of the 16-page, paperbased<br />

application people had to fill out and mail or deliver to county child<br />

support agencies in the past. In the first two years since launching the<br />

electronic form, the average number of monthly non-public assistance<br />

applications increased by 20%.<br />

Implementing two-way, real-time digital communication. In 2019, Texas<br />

piloted two-way, real-time digital communication through an online chat<br />

feature on five child support application web pages. It used feedback from<br />

a survey built into the chat to make quick application changes and tested<br />

and refined the technology to implement larger redesigns to fit the needs of<br />

its customers. In 2020, Texas rolled out the chat feature statewide.<br />

Making Content Mobile Device Friendly. Agencies took steps to ensure all<br />

web content was mobile-friendly. Washington discovered 77% of visitors to<br />

their enrollment page were using a mobile device.<br />

Paid Social Media Campaigns. Minnesota used Facebook and Instagram<br />

ads to guide potential customers to its website. These ads resulted in a<br />

40% increase in traffic to the website. iv<br />

Email Campaigns. Washington State sent flyers through a commercial<br />

digital management platform that school districts use to send emails to<br />

students’ parents. The Department of Child Support Services in<br />

“Numerous grantees developed simple, direct messaging or<br />

branding, free of parenting advice or judgment.”

Sacramento County, California, partnered with the Sacramento County<br />

Department of Human Assistance (DHA) to send emails to parents<br />

currently receiving CalFresh (SNAP) or Med-Cal (Medicaid).<br />

Messaging and Branding. Numerous grantees developed simple, direct<br />

messaging or branding, free of parenting advice or judgment. Some, like<br />

Michigan, tried a variety of different messaging strategies throughout the<br />

project timeline to see which message resonated best with customers.<br />

Indiana also tried several taglines and discovered that taglines were the<br />

most effective part of its digital marketing campaign. “Money cannot buy<br />

love, but it can provide comfort” resonated best with its audience. v<br />

Washington State found that asking a probing question elicited more<br />

engagement than general statements about children. vi Orange County,<br />

California, found messaging that spoke to tangible, seasonal needs (such<br />

as school supplies) was successful. They also found that acknowledging<br />

parents’ perspective (e.g., “you’re not alone”) seemed to be the most<br />

effective at gaining interest and driving engagement. vii<br />

Paid Search and Mobile Advertisements. Paid Google search<br />

advertisements and mobile advertisements also showed promising results<br />

in drawing potential customers to agency websites. Michigan found that<br />

users who came to their dedicated landing page and proceeded to their<br />

application portal all came through Google paid search advertisements. viii<br />

Virginia’s results mirror Michigan’s in terms of the success of paid Google<br />

search advertisements being an effective tool. Mobile ads proved to be the<br />

largest and most cost-effective source of ad impressions for Michigan’s<br />

digital campaign.<br />

In 2019-20, as part of the federal Digital Media Marketing Grant, California<br />

Child Support Services developed ads to target males/fathers and the<br />

Spanish-speaking population. Conclusions from the first phase of grant<br />

activities indicated both audiences had a measurable interest in child<br />

support services. The team saw positive engagement from the malefocused<br />

and Spanish ads but did not see an increase in new case<br />

openings among these subpopulations.

In August 2022, California Child Support Services coordinated a<br />

statewide, paid advertising campaign to promote a new Simplified<br />

Enrollment process. That campaign delivered an 87% increase in<br />

completed enrollments while ads ran during the month of August, and<br />

enrollments immediately fell again in September once the paid advertising<br />

stopped. Between the two efforts, the conclusion remains that paid digital<br />

advertising works to capture specific audiences such as males/fathers<br />

and Spanish-speakers, but unless the topic is a positive change in the<br />

program that benefits the user, the “clicker” will not convert to a customer.<br />

For more information, click here, or contact Nicole Darracq, Assistant<br />

Director for Communications and Public Affairs, California Department of<br />

Child Support Services at Nicole.Darracq@dcss.ca.gov.<br />

Conclusions and Practical Tips for Attracting Customers to the IV-D<br />

Program<br />

“Overall, the grantees suggested agencies be intentional in<br />

choosing their target population and use advertising platforms that<br />

allow more precise, focused audience marketing.”<br />

The overall results of the digital marketing grants suggest that child support<br />

agencies can attract potential customers by identifying them, reaching out<br />

to them, and making it easy for them to apply. Website content should be<br />

simple and direct. If there is a way to open a digital communication path,<br />

such as two-way texting, live chat, and contact forms, that solution should<br />

be explored. Indiana suggested using words like “enroll” and “enrollment<br />

form” instead of “application” or “apply,” as this language better reflects<br />

that people enroll and cannot be denied services. ix Overall, the grantees<br />

suggested agencies be intentional in choosing their target population and<br />

use advertising platforms that allow more precise, focused audience<br />


i<br />

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/grants/current-grants/digitalmarketing. There is a contact listed for each grant<br />

project there.<br />

ii<br />

Minnesota’s project ended September <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

iii<br />

Colorado Office of Child Support Enforcement Digital Marketing Grant, Final Brief,<br />

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ocse/DM_final_brief_co.pdf<br />

iv<br />

Erickson, Bruce and Austin Holik. “Minnesota’s Digital Ads and Two-Way Texting Pilot.” Child Support<br />

Report, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Support Services, August 2021, Volume<br />

42, No. 8, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/newsletter/ocsenewsletter/august-2021-child-supportreport#:~:text=Minnesota's%20Digital%20Ads%20and%20Two%2DWay%20Texting%20Pilot,-<br />

Bruce%20Erickson%2C%20Policy&text=The%20Minnesota%20Child%20Support%20Division%20receiv<br />

ed%20a%20digital%20marketing%20grant,public%20awareness%20of%20the%20program. (Accessed<br />

18 Oct. <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

v<br />

Indiana Child Support Digital Marketing Demonstration Project, Final Summary,<br />

https://www.in.gov/dcs/child-support/files/DM_IN_Final_Brief.pdf<br />

vi<br />

Washington State Child Support Digital Marketing Demonstration Project, Final Brief,<br />

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ocse/DM_WA_Final_Brief.pdf<br />

vii<br />

Orange County Child Support Digital Marketing to Improve Awareness to Underserved Populations, Final<br />

Brief https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ocse/DM_CA_OC_Final_Brief.pdf<br />

viii<br />

Michigan Child Support Digital Marketing Demonstration Project, Final Summary<br />

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ocse/DM_final_brief_mi.pdf<br />

ix<br />

Indiana Child Support Digital Marketing Demonstration Project, Final Summary<br />

https://www.in.gov/dcs/child-support/files/DM_IN_Final_Brief.pdf<br />

Emily Gregg is the Child Support Policy, Compliance, and Case Resolution Director for the Tennessee<br />

Child Support Services Division at the Department of Human Services (DHS). She has worked at DHS for<br />

eighteen years with the past thirteen in child support. Emily oversees the Child Support Policy Unit and<br />

Statewide Customer Service team. Policy Unit duties include updating, creating, and approving policy and<br />

procedures while working with the child support division’s Assistant General Counsel for possible changes<br />

to child support laws. Mrs. Gregg is also the Tennessee contact for IRS audits, and the Paternity Program<br />

falls within her unit. In addition to policy and compliance work, Mrs. Gregg ensures calls to the State Office<br />

Child Support Customer Service Team are answered timely and effectively. Emily has a Master of Public<br />

Administration (MPA) from Tennessee State University. When not working, she enjoys spending time with<br />

her husband and two sons.

Transformation and Innovation in Child Support:<br />

From Coast to Coast<br />

by Christopher Breen and Monica Perkins<br />

Over the last three years, significant changes have come to the child<br />

support program nationally. Office closures eliminated in-person customer<br />

service at many child support regional offices and courts. Child support<br />

colleagues across the country brainstormed and pivoted to provide core<br />

services to their constituents in a rapidly changing environment. Colleagues<br />

collaborated internally and conducted external best practice reviews.<br />

Research, development, and implementation of creative workflows and<br />

technical solutions ultimately addressed unique operational needs. Some<br />

changes were temporary, intended to bridge the gap until child support<br />

offices could fully re-open to the public. However, some changes have<br />

proven so successful and helpful to both agency and customer that they<br />

have endured. This article highlights programs implemented by the<br />

Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement<br />

Division (CSE) and California’s Contra Costa County Department of Child<br />

Support Services (DCSS). Both<br />

agencies introduced significant<br />

changes to their online<br />

customer service operations<br />

and have permanently<br />

incorporated them into their<br />

respective operations.

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue introduced an innovative<br />

customer service solution known as the Virtual Counter in March 2021. At<br />

its inception, local child support offices were closed to customers.<br />

Massachusetts developed the Virtual Counter as an online platform to<br />

address the priority needs of its customers on obligated cases.<br />

“Customers no longer need to drive to a regional office for an<br />

appointment or take public transportation, at cost, to a regional<br />

office.”<br />

The Virtual Counter solution pairs customers with caseworkers online<br />

without the need for an appointment. Customers enter a waiting room using<br />

a designated URL, telephone number, or QR code. All points of connectivity<br />

tie to a single Zoom meeting ID. Customers enter an online waiting room<br />

and are admitted for confirmation of the customer’s identity and a<br />

determination of the reason for the customer’s visit. Supervisors execute<br />

these tasks while also working through technical issues with customers. On<br />

occasion, customers are redirected to other online resources. For the most<br />

part, however, a supervisor moves the customer to a breakout room to<br />

discuss the issue with a caseworker. Caseworkers are equipped with<br />

Adobe Sign to exchange important agreements with customers and can<br />

take credit and debit card payments from customers. Both audio and video<br />

calls are received and handled throughout the course of business.<br />

Interactions are not recorded. The Virtual Counter is open from 8:30 a.m.-<br />

4:30 p.m. daily.<br />

Many customers engage with Massachusetts using the Virtual Counter<br />

from home, work, or another convenient location using their personal<br />

electronic devices. Customers no longer need to drive to a regional office<br />

for an appointment or take public transportation, at cost, to a regional<br />

office. Assistance is still available if a customer visits a Massachusetts<br />

regional office, with each office retrofitted to accommodate multiple kiosks<br />

for more complicated inquiries, and the kiosks connect directly to the Virtual<br />

Counter. The ability to reach a worker instantly–from onsite or offsite–to<br />

resolve an issue has proven popular with customers.

In addition to working directly with custodial parents, noncustodial parents,<br />

and attorneys, Massachusetts utilizes the Virtual Counter to engage with<br />

IV-D colleagues. Many options are available to caseworkers when<br />

navigating reciprocal, intergovernmental work. Several are critical to quickly<br />

and effectively resolve customer concerns and share information. Out of<br />

the IV-D colleagues who have utilized the Virtual Counter, however, most<br />

enjoy the opportunity to engage with peers in Massachusetts face-to-face.<br />

It is a different form of connection and a more personal form of networking<br />

which reaps benefits for both parties in the short- and long-term. It also has<br />

the potential to act as a companion approach to services offered by the<br />

federal Office of Child Support Services (OCSS).<br />

Massachusetts supervisors and caseworkers have done tremendous work<br />

during FY23, assisting 26,539 customers while collecting over $3.7 million<br />

in child support payments for families.<br />

The Virtual Counter has proven to be an innovative, effective, and enduring<br />

solution to engage with customers using technology while simultaneously<br />

prioritizing accessibility and convenience for customers and staff. The<br />

development, implementation, and operationalization of the Virtual Counter<br />

has been, and continues to be, an instrumental part of business operations<br />

for Massachusetts. Colleagues and customers can reach the Virtual<br />

Counter at the following URL: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/childsupport-virtual-counter.<br />

On the opposite coast, Contra Costa County’s DCSS witnessed<br />

unprecedented innovation and participation from a cross-section of agency<br />

staff in realizing the goals defined in its strategic plan. Contra Costa County<br />

DCSS has 136 employees. The current caseload size is 24,401, serving<br />

25,518 minor dependents and 43,789 parents/caretakers while collecting<br />

$74.3 million in collections and $70.8 million to families in FFY21-22. To<br />

continue providing excellent customer service to the families in its large<br />

caseload, Contra Costa implemented several technical initiatives that<br />

stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic. These initiatives resulted in a new<br />

array of options to interact with and support child support customers.

The development and implementation of Virtual<br />

Lobby and Virtual Chat provided an alternative to<br />

in-person customer meetings. Virtual Chat allows<br />

customers to meet with an assigned caseworker<br />

via Zoom from wherever they are, including the<br />

lobby of a local child support office. Three<br />

customized stations are set up in the lobby to<br />

allow customers to access their assigned<br />

caseworker, even when the caseworker is<br />

working remotely. Video Chat requires a protocol for privacy and<br />

professionalism. Training and protocols were developed for all staff,<br />

creating a virtual receptionist role. A QR code was created for ease of<br />

access to the virtual lobby, and outreach was done to promote the new<br />

service, including an email campaign to all customers. The benefits to the<br />

customer are reduced wait times, immediate accessibility to a caseworker,<br />

and flexibility based on the customer’s schedule. Post-pandemic,<br />

customers continue to leverage the flexibility of Virtual Chat. Contra Costa<br />

County DCSS currently assists an average of 104 Virtual Chat customers<br />

monthly, representing 22% of total customer interviews.<br />

The development and rollout of a chatbot known as VIC, Virtual Information<br />

Center, was created to increase customer access to child support<br />

information. It has been instrumental in providing information and education<br />

to the public and customers 24/7. This chatbot was built from scratch by<br />

staff and currently answers over 150 frequently asked questions for case<br />

participants, employers, and title companies. VIC includes links to<br />

resources, the DCSS Virtual Lobby, and a customer service survey, and will<br />

continuously be enhanced to improve customer service. The chatbot<br />

receives an average of 73 visits per month.<br />

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, and more<br />

families than ever may benefit from easy access to child support<br />

services.”<br />

The opportunity to improve service to title company customers came<br />

through the standardization and promotion of an Electronic Title Company<br />

Demand Portal. This portal streamlines child support collections from the

sale of real property while reducing the need to handle physical documents<br />

in a pandemic environment. The portal allows title companies to register<br />

online and submit a secure, digital request for a demand to resolve a real<br />

property lien. It also sends status updates to the title company when the<br />

request is received, processed, and completed. A copy of the demand<br />

document from the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) System is uploaded<br />

directly to the portal so that the title company can view the completed<br />

demand as soon as it is ready. The required hard copy is still being sent via<br />

US Mail, and casework continues to be completed and documented in the<br />

system of record. This has improved the service provided to title company<br />

customers and significantly reduced the amount of time that workers take<br />

to obtain missing, incomplete, or illegible information. It also reduced<br />

workers’ time responding to phone calls and e-mail inquiries from escrow<br />

officers for status updates, and eliminated the need to use a fax for this<br />

process. This process is currently being tested for implementation at the<br />

statewide level.<br />

When the pandemic started, the local Superior Court<br />

suspended all hearings, and closed in response to<br />

health and safety concerns. To serve customers and<br />

address critical legal needs, Contra Costa County<br />

DCSS worked with the Superior Court to utilize virtual<br />

technology to conduct hearings via Zoom. A QR code<br />

was created for ease of access to the virtual<br />

courtroom. Additionally, a text messaging and e-mail campaign called Early<br />

Customer Contact Expansion (ECCE) was designed to expand efforts to<br />

make early contact with participants so they are educated and involved in<br />

the court process. Contra Costa DCSS also collaborated with the local<br />

courts and implemented a new stipulation process incorporating DocuSign,<br />

allowing for all stipulations to occur electronically. The goals were to make<br />

the court accessible and increase appearance rates for all participants.<br />

Post-ECCE implementation, customer contact rates increased by 30%.<br />

Additionally, 70% of the customers surveyed said they felt more involved in<br />

the court process. Participant attendance at hearings increased from<br />

38.60% pre-pandemic compared to 61.42% post-pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted<br />

everyone, and more families than ever may<br />

benefit from easy access to child support<br />

services. Post-pandemic, CA State DCSS<br />

began to develop a new mobile-friendly<br />

Simplified Enrollment Application (SEP) to<br />

reach potential customers and to streamline<br />

applications for services. Contra Costa County<br />

DCSS volunteered to be part of the pilot group<br />

to test and give input on the new application.<br />

Contra Costa offered detailed feedback to<br />

increase and refine functionality, resulting in enhancements for all users<br />

statewide. SEP takes as little as ten minutes to complete, and currently,<br />

more than 40% of new Contra Costa applications for services come from<br />

SEP. Contra Costa has experienced an 18% increase in new non-aid case<br />

openings thanks to SEP’s ease of use for new customers.<br />

Both Massachusetts and Contra Costa County DCSS have incorporated<br />

these virtual programs into their long-term strategic plans. With innovative<br />

programs like the Virtual Counter, VIC, and the Virtual Chat, both agencies<br />

are well-positioned to assist customers in a rapidly changing virtual world.<br />

Should you have questions about the programs highlighted in this article,<br />

please contact Christopher Breen at breenc@dor.state.ma.us or Monica<br />

Perkins at monica.perkins@dcss.cccounty.us.<br />

Christopher Breen is in his 31 st year of child support enforcement work, his 20 th in a managerial capacity.<br />

Chris currently serves on two <strong>NCSEA</strong> committees and is an <strong>NCSEA</strong> U Class of <strong>2023</strong> graduate. He is the<br />

Deputy Director for the Northern Region of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Child Support<br />

Enforcement Division. He possesses a B.A. from Providence College with a focus on English and an M.A.<br />

from the University of Massachusetts. Chris previously completed an MBA certificate program at Suffolk<br />

University and plans to pursue his MBA.<br />

Monica Perkins has been working in the Child Support Program for 34 years. Currently, she serves as a<br />

Program Manager for the Contra Costa County Department of Child Support Services in California. Using<br />

effective change, project, and business process management, she has successfully led the development<br />

and implementation of many initiatives, leading to innovation and improved program outcomes. She<br />

possesses a bachelor’s degree from California State University, East Bay, in Liberal Studies. She is also a<br />

member of the <strong>NCSEA</strong> U Class of <strong>2023</strong>.

Cost of Domestic Violence Impacts the<br />

Economy<br />

by Dr. Sherill Carrington, DSW, MS, Chief Executive Officer,<br />

Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage<br />

In 2020, domestic violence cost the State of South Carolina more than<br />

$358.4 million in physical and mental health care, court costs,<br />

policing and prisons, lost productivity at work, and more. Each<br />

reported domestic violence incident costs the state an average of<br />

$4,350.<br />

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age,<br />

ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. It can occur in any business or<br />

organization, from the CEO to the newest employee. Often, a company is<br />

ill-prepared to deal with it: 65% percent of businesses lack HR policies to<br />

support employees victimized by domestic violence.<br />

In addition to the horrific human cost of domestic<br />

violence, there is an associated economic cost. Some<br />

of these costs relate to the health care of the victim.<br />

Other costs impact the surrounding community. The<br />

Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage (JKFFC) has<br />

sponsored studies of the economic costs of domestic<br />

violence in North Carolina and South Carolina.<br />

The study in North Carolina was conducted by Dr.<br />

Craig A. Depken II, who teaches economics at UNC<br />

Charlotte. Measuring the precise economic impact of domestic violence for

the State of North Carolina in 2018 entailed estimating total costs in eight<br />

categories: loss of life; physical health care; mental health care; lost work<br />

productivity; policing costs; incarceration costs; volunteer hours and<br />

centers; and programs and shelters. In each category, the researchers<br />

estimated the dollar costs using state and county-level data from North<br />

Carolina, and estimates (for example, loss of workdays per domestic<br />

violence incident) from peer-reviewed academic literature. The report from<br />

the study can be found here: North Carolina in 2018–The Economic Impact<br />

of Domestic Violence.<br />

"One in four women and one in seven men will experience severe<br />

physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime."<br />

This article focuses on the 2021 study in South<br />

Carolina by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, a research<br />

economist at the University of South Carolina.<br />

Domestic violence represents a significant and ongoing<br />

challenge for South Carolina. According to the Centers<br />

for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women<br />

and one in seven men will experience severe physical<br />

violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Those<br />

numbers are significantly higher in South Carolina.<br />

South Carolina currently ranks 7th among all states for<br />

the percentage of females who experience intimate<br />

partner violence at some point during their lifetimes. i<br />

South Carolina ranks eleventh in the nation in the rate<br />

of women murdered by men, with a rate of 1.68 per<br />

100,000, according to the most recent edition of the<br />

annual Violence Policy Center (VPC) study When Men<br />

Murder Women.<br />

While females are more often victims of domestic<br />

violence, domestic violence victims are not exclusively female.<br />

Approximately 42 percent of females and 29 percent of males in South<br />

Carolina are estimated to experience intimate partner violence in their

lifetime at least once. It is also estimated that there are over 82,000 victims<br />

of domestic violence in South Carolina each year.<br />

This incidence of domestic violence also poses significant economic costs<br />

for South Carolina–for the individual victims, their families, and the<br />

surrounding communities. Before the study, there had been limited<br />

research documenting the full range of these costs at the state level. As<br />

such, the purpose of this study was to specifically quantify the economic<br />

impact of domestic violence in South Carolina. This included documenting<br />

both the explicit and the hidden costs of domestic violence. Hidden costs<br />

refer to the harms imposed on the general well-being of domestic violence<br />

victims that arise from their inability to return to their normal lives, either<br />

temporarily or permanently. These hidden costs of domestic violence are<br />

generally documented least often.<br />

"Knowing the cost of domestic violence in our communities<br />

provides a robust evidence-based argument for prioritizing<br />

domestic violence."<br />

Measuring the precise economic impact of domestic violence for the State<br />

of South Carolina in 2020 entailed estimating total costs in eight categories:<br />

loss of life; physical health care; mental health care; lost work productivity;<br />

policing costs; incarceration costs; volunteer hours; and domestic violence<br />

programs and shelters. In each category, the researchers estimated the<br />

dollar costs using state and county-level data from South Carolina, and<br />

estimates (for example, loss of workdays per domestic violence incident)<br />

from peer-reviewed academic literature. Although this methodology was<br />

similar to that employed in the North Carolina study, it captured two<br />

additional elements not documented in previous research. First, this study<br />

incorporated all of the secondary economic impacts (or economic multiplier<br />

effects) associated with the losses in spending activity accompanying labor<br />

income losses. Second, this study used total police expenditures to<br />

incorporate all policing costs associated with domestic violence–including<br />

both direct emergency responses and all ongoing initiatives associated with<br />

prevention and support.<br />

The key findings of this study are as follows:

• The total annual number of domestic violence victims in South<br />

Carolina is estimated to be 82,379. This study, in turn, estimates the<br />

total annual economic losses associated with this level of domestic<br />

violence to be $358,374,858. The costs included in this estimate are<br />

loss of life and worker productivity, physical and mental health care,<br />

loss of property, police and court costs, incarceration costs, and the<br />

costs associated with the dollars spent on various domestic violence<br />

programs, shelters, and centers along with associated volunteer<br />

hours.<br />

• The largest measured economic losses are those resulting from lost<br />

worker productivity ($96.6 million, 27.0%), physical health care<br />

($72.0 million, 20.1%), and loss of life ($56.1 million, 15.6%).<br />

Economic impacts associated with lost worker productivity and loss of<br />

life are measured through a loss of labor income to victims due to a<br />

temporary or permanent inability to work. As such, these estimates<br />

represent a conservative measure of the hidden costs of domestic<br />

violence because they partially capture the extent to which domestic<br />

violence victims are forced to temporarily or permanently adjust their<br />

lifestyles.<br />

Category<br />

Annual Impact Percent of Total<br />

Loss of Life $ 56,068,519 15.6%<br />

Lost Work Productivity $ 96,639,370 27.0%<br />

Physical Health Care $ 71,999,617 20.1%<br />

Mental Health Care $ 33,281,287 9.3%<br />

Loss of Property $ 4,118,558 1.2%<br />

Policing Costs $ 15,108,557 4.2%<br />

Court Costs $ 23,829,319 6.6%<br />

Incarceration $ 37,950,861 10.6%<br />

Programs, Shelters, Centers $ 12,555,000 3.5%<br />

Volunteer Opportunity Costs $ 6,823,768 1.9%<br />

Total Impact $358,374,858 100%<br />

• The largest economic impacts of domestic violence in South Carolina<br />

occur in the major metropolitan regions of the state–including

Charleston, Columbia, and the Upstate. This is primarily because<br />

these regions have the highest populations in the state.<br />

Knowing the cost of domestic violence in our communities provides a<br />

robust evidence-based argument for prioritizing domestic violence.<br />

Continuous research on the impact of domestic violence on communities<br />

and society as a whole disproves the myth that this behavior is a “private<br />

matter.” On the contrary, it's a very public matter that impacts everyone.<br />

Hopefully, these findings inspire states to continue funding programs to<br />

address this crisis. More educational and prevention programs are needed<br />

in schools, workplaces, houses of worship, and other institutions. The<br />

warning signs of domestic violence and abuse must be shared so others<br />

know what to look for. And plans must be put in place to help victims when<br />

domestic violence strikes.<br />

The Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage focuses on prevention,<br />

education, awareness, and research. That is why we sponsored the<br />

South Carolina study, along with much-appreciated grant support<br />

from the Robert S. Handler Fund of the American Endowment<br />

Foundation, the Springsteen Foundation, and Domtar Corporation–to<br />

help business, government, and other institutions understand the<br />

impact of domestic violence, and to inspire them to do more to stop it.<br />

Thanks go to Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen for conducting the study.<br />

Read the study here to learn more: South Carolina in 2020–The<br />

Economic Impact of Domestic Violence.

i<br />

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2019).<br />

With over 30+ years of nonprofit experience and experience as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Dr.<br />

Sherill Carrington is known for transforming repetitive behaviors that negatively impact children and<br />

families through a social cognitive approach that sustains prevention efforts, achieves community impact<br />

and manages solutions.<br />

Sherill has led the foundation’s growth in programming by 50%, new fundraising efforts by 30%, and<br />

community partnerships by 80%.<br />

Sherill works with community initiatives such as Action United Collaborative and the Decolonization of<br />

Program Curriculum at the University of Southern California.<br />

Sherill holds a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Southern Nazarene University and a<br />

Doctorate in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

Leadership Symposium <strong>2023</strong> Recap:<br />

Golden Opportunities in Leadership<br />

by Phyllis Nance and Ellen Rutledge, <strong>NCSEA</strong> <strong>2023</strong> Leadership<br />

Symposium Co-Chairs<br />

This year’s Leadership Symposium theme was “Golden Opportunities in<br />

Leadership.” The four-day conference, held in beautiful Anaheim,<br />

California, did just that—provided attendees with many opportunities to<br />

develop and hone their leadership skills through networking, plenaries,<br />

workshops, and learning labs. The 750 in-person attendees enjoyed<br />

ongoing networking, five plenaries, four learning labs, 28 workshops, and<br />

meeting two celebrities.<br />

Networking<br />

A benefit of conference attendance is networking. Conferences<br />

are a great place to put names with faces and spend time getting<br />

to know colleagues from around the country. The Leadership<br />

Symposium kicked off with activities designed to make conference<br />

networking easy and fun. Held right down the road from Disneyland, it was<br />

no surprise that two A-list movie stars appeared at the conference. On<br />

Sunday afternoon, Belle and the Beast, from Disney’s Beauty and the<br />

Beast, invited attendees to be <strong>NCSEA</strong>’s guests throughout the conference.<br />

They hosted a getting-to-know-you scavenger hunt, posed for pictures, led<br />

the <strong>2023</strong> Idea Exchange, and presided over the opening reception.<br />

Throughout the week, attendees had many opportunities to network,<br />

including receptions and time in the exhibit hall with vendors.

Plenaries<br />

Plenaries brought forward lots of opportunities to improve both<br />

the child support program as a whole and individual leadership<br />

skills. Attendees were:<br />

• reminded to look for employee’s potential and to coach through<br />

challenges and obstacles;<br />

• encouraged to implement a DEI initiative in their offices;<br />

• challenged to imagine what the child support program will look like in<br />

the future;<br />

• asked to consider how gender roles have changed over the years<br />

and how those changes have impacted fathers;<br />

• taught about challenges facing the program and opportunities to rise<br />

to meet them; and<br />

• informed about how our customers perceive the program and what<br />

that means for the program going forward.<br />

Workshops<br />

Workshops provided attendees with several opportunities for<br />

learning and development. Workshops addressed workplace<br />

topics such as quiet quitting, employee burnout, and engaging with<br />

employees. A set of workshops was centered around leadership with<br />

subjects such as moving from colleague to leader, developing the next<br />

generation of leadership, and barriers to success for leaders. Workshops<br />

also provided opportunities to learn about program improvement, like<br />

building a strategic roadmap and applying human-centered design to<br />

human services.<br />

Learning Labs<br />

Learning labs have quickly become some of the most popular<br />

opportunities at the Leadership Symposium. They take the<br />

learning one step further—the labs are an opportunity to apply a<br />

concept and gain information ready to use back at the office. This year’s<br />

learning lab themes included self-taught leadership, empathy overload,<br />

engaging with veterans, and trauma-informed care.

End Credits<br />

It takes a lot of people to put on a production this big. We would like to<br />

thank those who presented at our workshops and in our learning labs. We<br />

could not have handled all the logistics without the California volunteers.<br />

There isn’t a thank you big enough for the support we receive from our<br />

corporate partners and the Symposium’s sponsors. They helped make this<br />

dream come true.<br />

The <strong>2023</strong> Leadership Symposium was led by an amazing crew who<br />

planned and produced the conference. Our sincere thanks to the team for<br />

their efforts to make this the best event possible:<br />

Jay Bland Tiffany Cosey Irene Curran<br />

Ashley Dexter Natalie Dillon Robbie Endris<br />

Corri Flores Brandi Gallebo Marie Waite<br />

John Hurst Lilly James Bonnie Judkins<br />

Daniel King Barbara Lacina Timothy Lightener<br />

Janie McDaniel Ethan McKinney Terri Greer<br />

Jamie Murray Sharon Pizzuti Julie Prado<br />

Jackie Scharping Laura Roth Trish Skophammer<br />

Kathy Sokolik Anne Stadther Jonell Sullivan<br />

Jeff Thompson Rob Velcoff Jamie Zaffino<br />

Lesley Bell Laura Galindo Mike Cianfichi<br />

Lyndsy Irwin Diane Potts Kara Hester<br />

Christy Coleman Verrhonda Bullock Chelsey Copas<br />

See you next year in Detroit!<br />

Phyllis Nance has 38 years of public service, including 30 years in the child support program. She is<br />

currently the Director of the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services. She arrived in<br />

Alameda County in 2016 with 24 years of experience in the Kern County Department of Child Support<br />

Services, eight of which she served as the Director. Phyllis has extensive knowledge of the child support<br />

program and broad leadership experience, having served in multiple leadership roles.<br />

As a Director Consulting Expert at CGI Technologies, Ellen Rutledge applies her years of experience as a<br />

child support attorney and in child support operations to help clients envision new possibilities.

Is <strong>NCSEA</strong> U For You?<br />

Chartered in 2013, <strong>NCSEA</strong> U provides a unique premier<br />

educational and professional development opportunity.<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> U is structured for learning leaders in the child<br />

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

educational initiatives and strategies. The program is<br />

taught by nationally recognized child support leaders,<br />

offering a variety of informative and strategic topics.<br />

Offered at <strong>NCSEA</strong>'s Leadership Symposium and Policy<br />

Forum, classes are structured with an emphasis on group<br />

discussions that combine theoretical concepts with real-time work environment<br />

scenarios.<br />

While <strong>NCSEA</strong> U at Leadership Symposium focuses on leadership principles within the<br />

child support program, <strong>NCSEA</strong> U at Policy Forum offers participants training in policy,<br />

advocacy, and outreach. Whether for yourself or your staff, <strong>NCSEA</strong> U offers a<br />

transformative learning experience and is a catalyst for networking opportunities.<br />

Salima Khakoo, Class of <strong>2023</strong><br />

State<br />

Salima<br />

of Minnesota<br />

Khakoo, Class of <strong>2023</strong><br />

Help Desk Supervisor<br />

State of Minnesota<br />

Help Desk Supervisor<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> U @ Leadership Symposium focuses on the emerging and learning<br />

leader. How do you define the characteristics of a good leader? A good leader<br />

relies on and fosters an environment of open communication to continuously improve<br />

themselves and the program. A good leader can be at any level of an organization<br />

where there is an opportunity to use modeling, positive communication, and hard work<br />

to do our jobs better. DEI is a critical component to ensure perspectives other than<br />

the ones in the room are welcomed and taken seriously.<br />

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

you experienced? I have attended an all day session on use of technology to<br />

improve our impact on participants, and I have used the lead up skills to support my<br />

manager.<br />

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

It is a time set aside to reflect on our leadership potential, receive skills and<br />

knowledge, as well as strengthen our DEI muscle.

Trista Dick, Class of <strong>2023</strong><br />

North Dakota Child Support<br />

Lead Legal Assistant<br />

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

Experience and Connections. There is a lot of information to take in, but the<br />

experience of learning from amazing leaders, and hearing others share their stories<br />

will have a lasting impact on me.<br />

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

“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second<br />

way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” —Mister Rogers<br />

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

recommend a specific leadership book? Why?<br />

The Answer is a Question: The Missing Superpower that Changes Everything and<br />

Will Transform Your Impact as a Manager and Leader by Laura Ashley-Timms and<br />

Dominic Ashley-Timms. It brings forward the change from managing to coaching,<br />

and empowering your team to be self-sufficient.<br />

Melanie Roberts, Class of of <strong>2023</strong><br />

Washington State Division of of Child Support<br />

Child Support Program Administrator<br />

How would you describe the characteristics of a good leader?<br />

As I learned at the Leadership Symposium, a good leader is a good coach. As<br />

leaders, we need to be skilled in coaching our staff to finding solutions, rather than<br />

merely telling them what to do. Coaching is a life skill and starts with belief in your<br />

people.<br />

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

you experienced? I am now working with a mentor in determining the trajectory of<br />

my career. I have considered several positions I aspire to apply for if/when they<br />

become available.<br />

How has your perception of being a leader in the child support program<br />

evolved since attending <strong>NCSEA</strong> U?<br />

I have more confidence in my leadership abilities and really SEE myself as a leader,<br />

even though I am not upper management. I have the ability to lead by example for our<br />

field staff.<br />

To learn more about <strong>NCSEA</strong> U, visit<br />


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