CSQ July 2022

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Table of Contents<br />

<strong>July</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

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

Community Corner: Delaware is Changing With the Times….............5<br />

Protecting Fragile Families: New Guidance to Improve Foster Care<br />

Referral Policies and Practices…………………………………….....…..8<br />

Introducing New IV-D Directors…………………………………………..14<br />

Procedural Justice in the Child Support Process……………………….20<br />

Electronic Document Exchange…………………………………………..27<br />

Preparation,Connection,and Competency in Hiring…..........................33<br />

Leadership Symposium Preview………………………………………….40

Lori Bengston<br />

NCSEA President<br />

Hello!<br />

I hope you are all enjoying the summer months and finding time to do the<br />

things you love. As I write this message, I am thinking back to last year<br />

when I was about to become the president of NCSEA, feeling a little<br />

anxious and excited all at the same time. I was contemplating my theme for<br />

the year, forming committees, and preparing for the passing of the gavel,<br />

and now, more than ever, the phrase “time flies” takes on a whole new<br />

meaning.<br />

Some of you may remember last year at the Leadership Symposium I was<br />

celebrating the birth of my five-day old grandson and becoming a first-time<br />

grandma! The phrase “time flies” fits that situation too, as he will celebrate<br />

his first birthday in a little over a month. Similar to my term as NCSEA<br />

president, I look back over the past year of my grandson’s life and am in<br />

awe of how much change and growth can happen in one short year. So<br />

many stages, accomplishments, and bright spots to reflect upon from the<br />

past, and such a bright future ahead. Time stops for no one, and that’s<br />

okay.<br />

As president and leader of the association, I often felt time was going too<br />

fast and there was still so much to do before the end of my term. Then I<br />

reminded myself that the privilege of being NCSEA president is just one<br />

short year, but the work continues, rather seamlessly, to the next president.<br />

The work toward our mission to promote and influence child support<br />

policies and services, and to educate, connect, and inspire those who work<br />

in child support never ends. While we have had some great<br />

accomplishments this year, many initiatives will carry over as we strive to<br />

do what’s best for the families we serve.

The role of NCSEA president has been the highlight of my 20+ years in the<br />

child support program. I would like to thank the Board of Directors and the<br />

Executive Committee for always supporting me and sharing their wisdom,<br />

experience, and passion for the program. Your support was invaluable to<br />

me. To the committee chairs and members, you are the heart and soul of<br />

this association. The work you do on a volunteer basis is second to none. I<br />

can’t thank you enough for all the times you said “yes” and the tireless<br />

hours you worked toward our mission. To the vendor community and all<br />

who pay to attend our events, there would be no NCSEA without your<br />

support. Ann Marie, Katie, Latrese, and our MCI partners, you are the glue<br />

that holds us all together. Last but not least, to my YoungWilliams family<br />

and my family at home, thank you for your support this past year and<br />

always!<br />

It has been an honor and a blessing to serve as your president, and I will<br />

forever be grateful for the opportunity. I will never forget the confidence you<br />

placed in me to serve this outstanding community of child support<br />

professionals. Soon I will place the gavel in the very capable hands of<br />

President-elect Jim Fleming, and I will look forward to continuing my<br />

service to NCSEA and supporting Jim wherever needed. I hope to see<br />

many of you at the Leadership Symposium in Charlotte, North Carolina,<br />

and I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!<br />

All my best,<br />

Lori<br />

_________________________________________<br />

In addition to serving as NCSEA President, Lori Bengston is a Project Manager for<br />

Young Williams and has been active in the child support enforcement program for over<br />

16 years. She has direct supervision of the Nebraska Child Support Call Center,<br />

including the Early Intervention Project. Lori has been a speaker at many child support<br />

conferences on the topics of customer service, call centers, and early intervention. Lori<br />

has been active in NCSEA for many years, previously serving on the Board from 2007-<br />

2013. She is a Past President of the Western Intergovernmental Child Support<br />

Engagement Council (WICSEC) and the Nebraska Child Support Enforcement<br />

Association Board of Directors.

Delaware is Changing With the Times<br />

by Theodore G. Mermigos, Jr.<br />

Delaware Division of Child Support<br />

I consider myself a late bloomer in the realm of social media. It became<br />

apparent to me that I needed to catch up quickly if I was going to use social<br />

media to promote what we were doing at the Division of Child Support<br />

Services (DCSS) in Delaware. So this point doesn’t get missed, I am<br />

saying it in the first paragraph rather than in a later one: sometimes you<br />

must stretch beyond your comfort zone and do things that are a little<br />

uncomfortable to meet new successes. If you are not using social media to<br />

promote child support programs, offer help to child support participants, or<br />

share important information to the community at large, you are missing a<br />

huge opportunity. Every office has a social media savvy person that can<br />

help, or in some cases, take the lead on promoting your program on social<br />

media.<br />

During my 26 years as a State of Delaware employee, I have always<br />

considered myself an ambassador of the services my department and<br />

division provide to the public. Quality customer<br />

service always starts with communicating<br />

effectively with the public about what services are<br />

available, and where to begin to maneuver through<br />

the red tape and bureaucracy.<br />

One of the pledges we made in 2015 when we<br />

changed our state IV-D agency’s name by<br />

replacing the word “Enforcement” with the word “Services,” was to find<br />

better ways to connect with all of our customers. The old ways of<br />

communicating just weren’t cutting it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we still<br />

honor traditional ways of communicating such as attending community<br />

events, signage, literature, and the occasional press release or radio<br />

commercial. However, we made the conscious decision to enter the world

of social media. After all, you must meet the people where they are, and my<br />

friends, that is on social media.<br />

DCSS started with creating a Division of Child Support Services Facebook<br />

page in January 2014. In the beginning, we used the site to post job<br />

openings and fairs, accept and respond to personal messages from our<br />

customers, send holiday and seasonal wishes, and share office closings<br />

and general information. We hovered around a couple hundred followers<br />

for a couple years, ignorant to Facebook’s full capacity to help us reach a<br />

public desperate for information—especially the last two years during the<br />

pandemic when customers were not able to freely visit local child support<br />

offices.<br />

In 2021, DCSS opened up a whole new world when we launched our first<br />

Facebook Live event. For those who don’t know, Facebook Live provides<br />

an opportunity to do live videos that<br />

can then be saved to the videos<br />

section of the Facebook page for<br />

future viewing. I can remember as if<br />

this were yesterday: minutes leading<br />

up to this first Facebook Live event,<br />

my employees in the office of the<br />

Director were anxious. They were<br />

worried no one would tune in, or if the public did tune in, what they would<br />

say. Would they be confrontational? Would they reveal too much personal<br />

information? And most worrisome to my employees, what would I say and<br />

how would I do answering questions on the spot?<br />

Forty members of the public tuned in to that first Facebook Live event. We<br />

knew after the first event that this was something we needed to continue.<br />

We established a specific day of the month (the first Monday), hour of the<br />

day (11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time), and came up with the name<br />

The Child Support Connection. The idea behind the time selection was that<br />

it occurs around lunch time and could accommodate parents in the<br />

workforce. DCSS employees from across the state submitted suggestions<br />

for the name of our new endeavor. We received approximately 65<br />

submissions, which my leadership team and I reviewed and voted on. That<br />

is when our Facebook Live became known as The Child Support<br />


The greatest advantage of The Child Support Connection is that we are<br />

communicating with the public in real time and giving the public an<br />

opportunity to ask questions, raise child support case concerns, and even<br />

express an opinion about us as an agency. Questions from the public come<br />

in via the comments—they write their specific question and for the most<br />

part, they keep their case specific questions free of identifiable information.<br />

I read their questions out loud on the live event and provide answers or<br />

instructions.<br />

The viewership is not always extremely high, but this gives me the<br />

opportunity to talk about DCSS enforcement tools,<br />

changes we are making, programs we are offering,<br />

upcoming events, how we handle intergovernmental<br />

cases, and general child support information.<br />

The DCSS Facebook page now has 5,202 followers<br />

and reaches families in nine other countries. There<br />

have been 23 live Child Support Connection events<br />

that have had approximately 17,000 views.<br />

Most participants in the child support process are looking for honest,<br />

straightforward information in a time-efficient manner. Using social media is<br />

an important and necessary tool to reach them. Facebook Live events have<br />

aided in filling in the gaps and overcoming communication barriers. After<br />

having such success on Facebook Live with The Child Support Connection,<br />

Delaware DCSS is now working on building and expanding our social<br />

media presence to Instagram and a YouTube Channel. We invite you to<br />

follow us!<br />

_________________________________________<br />

Ted Mermigos has been the IV-D Director at the Delaware Division of Child Support<br />

Services (DCSS) since April 1, 2015. Ted does a monthly Facebook Live Event, “The<br />

Child Support Connection,” the first Monday of every month at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.<br />


Protecting Fragile Families: New<br />

Guidance to Improve Foster Care<br />

Referral Policies and Practices<br />

by Diane Potts, CGI<br />

On June 8, <strong>2022</strong>, the Children’s Bureau issued new policy guidance i on the<br />

referral process between child welfare and child support agencies. It is<br />

centered around the question that more and more child support programs<br />

recently have struggled with, namely, the “appropriateness” of referrals for<br />

parents working toward reunifying with their children. The new guidance<br />

recognizes that “[i]t is almost never the case that securing an assignment of<br />

the rights to child support is in the best interests of a child during the time<br />

the child is in title IV-E foster care.” ii<br />

Background<br />

Under federal law, a state child welfare agency must take “all steps” to<br />

secure an assignment to the state of any rights to child support on behalf of<br />

each child who is receiving title IV-E foster care maintenance payments by<br />

referring the case for child support services “where appropriate.” iii In 2012,<br />

the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issued two policy<br />

guidance Information Memoranda (IM) on Title IV-E Referrals: IM-12-02 iv ,<br />

Requests for Locate Services, Referrals, and Electronic Interface, and IM-<br />

12-06 v , Requests for Locate Services, Referrals, and Electronic Interface<br />

between Child Welfare and Child Support Information Systems.<br />

Recognizing that the child support and child welfare programs serve many<br />

of the same children and families, OCSE explained that the agencies<br />

should work together to develop criteria for appropriate referrals “in the best<br />

interest of the child involved.” vi In OCSE’s view, an appropriate type of case<br />

may be if the child will remain in foster care for a period of time, if it helps<br />

the permanency planning process, or if collections will help relatives<br />

assume custody of the child. vii OCSE also provided examples of cases<br />

where a referral may not be appropriate including if the child is being

adopted or will be in foster care for only a short amount of time, as well as<br />

when the “parent(s) would be unable to comply with the permanency plan<br />

of reunification due to the financial hardship caused by paying child<br />

support” or if the parent who formerly did not reside with the child is a<br />

potential placement resource. viii<br />

Research studies conducted since OCSE’s guidance was published<br />

generally demonstrate that pursuing child support in foster care cases may<br />

cause harm to poor parents working towards reunification. The research<br />

also has found that pursuing child support in foster care cases is not cost<br />

effective.<br />

In addition, a study from Orange County, California found that for every<br />

dollar expended by the child support program to pursue support, only<br />

27 cents actually is collected—basically a $0.27 cost effectiveness ratio<br />

compared to the national average of $5.27 for all child support cases.<br />

Specifically, studies in Wisconsin ix and Minnesota x found that the vast<br />

majority of parents in the child welfare system are poor, with incomes<br />

below $10,000 per year. The Wisconsin study also found that establishing<br />

a child support order against a parent working to reunify substantially<br />

increased the time the child spends in out-of-home placement, with each<br />

$100 in child support increasing the time spent in foster care by six months.<br />

These studies began to cast doubt on the value of requiring child support<br />

payments from parents who are already poor and trying to reunite with their<br />

child.<br />

In addition, a study from Orange County, California xi found that for every<br />

dollar expended by the child support program to pursue support, only 27<br />

cents actually is collected—basically a $0.27 cost effectiveness ratio<br />

compared to the national average of $5.27 for all child support cases. xii<br />

Similarly, the Minnesota research estimated a cost-effectiveness ratio for<br />

their foster caseload of 36 cents for each dollar spent. xiii Finally, the Orange<br />

County study discovered that for every dollar paid in foster care<br />

maintenance payments, the federal government recoups only four cents<br />

through child support collections.<br />

Although OCSE has not issued any policy guidance as a result of the<br />

research, it did provide a new case closure criterion as part of the<br />

Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Enforcement

Programs Final Rule that became effective in December 2016. The new<br />

criterion provides that a child support program may close a case if:<br />

Another assistance program, including IV-A, IV-E, SNAP,<br />

and Medicaid, has referred a case to the IV-D agency that is<br />

inappropriate to establish, enforce, or continue to enforce a<br />

child support order and the custodial or noncustodial parent has<br />

not applied for services. xiv<br />

This provision provides child support programs with new flexibility to not<br />

pursue support for foster care referrals when doing so would not be in the<br />

best interest of the family and the reunification goal.<br />

NCSEA’s Resolution<br />

On August 11, 2020, the NCSEA Board adopted a “Resolution for A<br />

National Review of Child Support and Child Welfare<br />

Referral and Coordination Policies.” xv NCSEA recognized<br />

that there was inconsistency in policies and practices<br />

across the country, as well as inadequate informationsharing<br />

between the child support and child welfare<br />

agencies. In NCSEA’s opinion, “there appear to be few<br />

jurisdictions where the relationship between child support and child welfare<br />

agencies is functional and effective, and best practices of those positive<br />

collaborations are insufficiently understood and publicized.”<br />

NCSEA recognized the difference in pursuing support against the parent<br />

who did not reside with the child versus the parent who was the former<br />

custodian (“removal parent”) and is undergoing reunification efforts in the<br />

child welfare case. For the former, NCSEA explained that establishing and<br />

enforcing a child support obligation has considerable value including<br />

paternity establishment, a possible relative placement option, and most<br />

important, additional financial resources to the removal parent that can help<br />

hasten reunification.<br />

But pursuing child support is more problematic for a removal parent who is<br />

working towards reunification. NCSEA explained that federal law requires<br />

that reasonable efforts must be made to preserve and reunify families and<br />

make it possible for a child to return home safely. Citing the recent<br />

research, NCSEA recognized that there often are cases where a child<br />

support obligation against the removal parent may not be in the best<br />

interest of the child and family.

The resolution asked the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to<br />

develop guidance on the appropriateness of referrals for removal parents.<br />

Specifically, NCSEA advocated for guidance explaining that a referral to<br />

pursue support against the removal parent working towards reunification is<br />

appropriate against the removal parent only if the child welfare agency<br />

determines the referral is in the best interest of the child in foster care.<br />

NCSEA asked ACF for the following other initiatives as well:<br />

• Convene a federal-state workgroup<br />

consisting of child support and child welfare<br />

leaders at the federal level and from at least<br />

six states, as well as parents with experience<br />

as child welfare clients, that would:<br />

o Identify best practices for child<br />

support/child welfare interaction that<br />

can be disseminated nationally;<br />

o Develop recommendations for<br />

information-sharing between child support and child welfare<br />

agencies, including encouraging child welfare agencies to use<br />

FPLS data more productively;<br />

o Assess the impact of a best-interests-of-the-child standard for use<br />

of child support collections in foster care cases and whether states<br />

should consider the option of using such collections for a trust fund<br />

to help the custodial parent improve the child’s standard of living<br />

following reunification;<br />

o Specify an agenda for future research concerning the impact of<br />

child support establishment and enforcement on child welfare<br />

cases, especially children in out-of-home placements.<br />

• Fund research on the impact of child support referrals on out-of-home<br />

placement stays, cost-effectiveness, and related issues.<br />

• Identify best practices in child support/child welfare interactions and<br />

disseminate such information nationally.

New Children’s Bureau Guidance<br />

The Children’s Bureau issued new policy guidance in June <strong>2022</strong>, in order<br />

for child welfare agencies “to define more narrowly ‘where appropriate’ so<br />

that the default position in these determinations can be for the title IV-E<br />

agency not to secure an assignment of the rights to child support.” xvi The<br />

Children’s Bureau cited both the Minnesota and Orange County studies in<br />

explaining that securing a child support obligation is generally deemed not<br />

to be cost effective.<br />

Further, the new guidance recognizes that children<br />

in foster care have been removed from homes that<br />

qualify for financial assistance—meaning “that the<br />

parent(s) of these children are likely to be living in<br />

poverty.” In addition, reunification efforts require<br />

these parents to complete a variety of services such as therapy, parenting<br />

courses, substance abuse treatment, and family time sessions. Reducing<br />

income for these parents can divert from these efforts, potentially extending<br />

the reunification process.<br />

Therefore, according to the Children’s Bureau, it is almost never in the best<br />

interest of a child in foster care to require a parent undergoing reunification<br />

efforts to pay child support. Instead of having child welfare agencies make<br />

appropriateness determinations on a case-by-case basis as previous policy<br />

guidance had directed, child welfare agencies should be considering<br />

different, across-the-board policies such as not referring cases except in<br />

rare instances where there will be no adverse effects on the child or<br />

permanency plan. One other example would be a policy where the child<br />

welfare agency refers a case to the child support agency only where the<br />

parent’s income is above a specified income level.<br />

If a referral is made, child welfare agencies should review the case every<br />

six months to re-assess whether child support should continue. Finally, the<br />

Children’s Bureau encouraged the child welfare agency to work with the<br />

child support agency when considering the recent guidance and changes to<br />

the referral policies.<br />

Conclusion<br />

The new guidance issued by the Children’s Bureau is generally in line with<br />

NCSEA’s resolution adopted in August 2020, that recognized the potential<br />

harm caused by pursuing child support against removal parents living in

poverty and working towards reunification. Since OCSE’s guidance from<br />

2012 now seems inconsistent with the Children’s Bureau’s position, OCSE<br />

may be working on new guidance for child support agencies—especially in<br />

light of the new case closure criterion for inappropriate Title IV-E referrals.<br />

While it is too early to measure the overall impact of the guidance on either<br />

the child welfare or child support programs, the ideal result will be a more<br />

universal, family-centered approach to child support in foster care cases<br />

across the country.<br />

Diane Potts is a Director on the National Strategy Team at CGI Technologies and<br />

Solutions Inc. Diane serves on the NCSEA Board of Directors and is co-chair of<br />

NCSEA’s Policy and Government Relations Committee as well as an NCSEA Past-<br />

President, past Secretary, and an Honorary Lifetime Member. Diane also is on the<br />

Board of Directors for the Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support Association and is<br />

chair of its Intergovernmental Improvement Committee.<br />

Diane served for six years as Illinois Deputy Attorney General for Child Support. She<br />

was appointed as the official observer to the Uniform Law Commission’s amendment of<br />

the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) on NCSEA’s behalf, and currently sits on the UPA’s<br />

Enactment Committee. In 2015, she received the Illinois Child Support Lifetime<br />

Achievement Award. Diane received her law degree from Washington University Law<br />

School and her undergraduate degree from University of Illinois.<br />

i<br />

Child Welfare Policy Manual, 8.4C Title IV-E, General Title IV-E Requirements, Child Support, Question<br />

and Answer 5, About | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov).<br />

ii<br />

Id.<br />

iii<br />

42 U.S.C. §671(a)(17) (a state’s Title IV-E plan must provide that “where appropriate, all steps will be<br />

taken, including cooperative efforts with the State agencies administering the program funded under part<br />

A and plan approved under part D, to secure an assignment to the State of any rights to support on behalf<br />

of each child receiving foster care maintenance payments under [title IV-E]).”<br />

iv<br />

IM-12-02 Requests for Locate Services, Referrals, and Electronic Interface.<br />

v<br />

IM-12-06 Requests for Locate Services, Referrals, and Electronic Interface between Child Welfare and<br />

Child Support Information Systems.<br />

vi<br />

Supra at n.4 &5.<br />

vii<br />

Id.<br />

viii<br />

Id.<br />

ix<br />

Making parents pay: The unintended consequences of charging parents for foster care. (University of<br />

Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty found 85 percent of removal parents have incomes below<br />

$10,000 per year, well below the poverty line).<br />

x<br />

Child Support Collections to Offset Out of Home Placement Costs: A Study of Cost Effectiveness<br />

(hamline.edu) (80 percent of parents have income less than $10,000 per year).<br />

xi<br />

Child Support and Foster Care in California.<br />

xii<br />

FY 2021 Preliminary Data Report and Tables | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov).<br />

xiii<br />

Supra at n.10.<br />

xiv<br />

45 CFR § 303.11(b)(20).<br />

xv<br />

Resolution-for-a-National-Review-of-Child-Support-and-Child-Welfare-Referral-and-Coordination-<br />

Policies_2020.pdf (ncsea.org)<br />

xvi<br />

Supra at n. 1.

Introducing New IV-D Directors<br />

By Konitra Jack<br />

Louisiana Support Enforcement Services<br />

Most job postings for child support directors include language that<br />

candidates should possess a commitment to the vision and function of the<br />

agency, strong leadership skills, and an ability to build consensus. The<br />

postings normally go on to describe individuals possessing a very specific<br />

skill set. Then you see the addition of “knowledge of federal and state child<br />

support laws and regulations,” which takes the list of qualifications from<br />

specific to exclusive. These two words seem similar, but they are not.<br />

There’s a difference and when you meet a IV-D director, you immediately<br />

know it. When I became a director, it did not take long to learn why.<br />

In September 2020, our director, Lydia Scales, announced that she was<br />

retiring, and I was given the reins as Louisiana CSE Director. Shortly after,<br />

I was invited to an “Ex-Ivy Dee” (IV-D) Annual Reunion. Now if you’ve ever<br />

met Robbie Endris, Lisa Andry (former Louisiana IV-D directors), or any of<br />

the other Ex-Ivy Dees, as they are known by, you surely wouldn’t blame<br />

Lydia for deciding to join that club. They were welcoming and ready to<br />

nurture the “future former” IV-D directors. Being with them gave me such a<br />

sense of hope and pride that I could one day join that club. It is truly<br />

inspiring that those who have held this position still have that passion for<br />

our program.<br />

And that’s the difference! When someone becomes a director, they are<br />

taking on another role in the family. They are welcomed with open arms<br />

and shown the way by their colleagues. They are supported, and they<br />

quickly learn to support their teams. I believe all of the IV-D directors and<br />

Ex-Ivy Dees would support my conclusion that being IV-D director is not<br />

easy. Nonetheless, each of them would likely say that it is one of the most<br />

rewarding experiences of their career. This article gives some of our

newest IV-D directors the opportunity to share their perspectives on what<br />

the role means to them.<br />

But first, let me introduce you to my colleagues:<br />

When someone becomes a director, they<br />

are taking on another role in the family.<br />

They are welcomed with open arms and<br />

shown the way by their colleagues.<br />

Chad Shook is Director for the Mississippi Department of<br />

Human Services, Division of Child Support. Chad comes to<br />

the agency after practicing law in various capacities in the<br />

Mississippi Delta, southwest Tennessee, and Hattiesburg for<br />

over 22 years.<br />

John Hurst currently serves as Assistant Deputy<br />

Commissioner/IV-D Director for the Georgia Department of<br />

Human Services, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS).<br />

With more than 30 years of professional experience, John<br />

began his career with DCSS as a case manager in the<br />

Atlanta office. John is a member of the ERICSA Board of<br />

Directors and an active member of NCSEA and NCCSD.<br />

Frank DiBiase serves as Associate Director, Rhode Island<br />

Department of Human Services, Office of Child Support<br />

Services. Frank started in December 1990 as legal counsel<br />

(line attorney) prosecuting the agency’s child support cases<br />

in the Rhode Island Family Court daily. He served as<br />

Senior Legal Counsel in child support and Chief Legal<br />

Counsel for the agency. In <strong>July</strong> 2021, Frank was named as the Child<br />

Support Director.

Tell me about your path to becoming the IV-D Director. How long have you<br />

been in the position?<br />

Chad Shook: I am an attorney by trade and practiced in the areas of<br />

family law and insurance for 22 years before beginning service as<br />

Mississippi's IV-D director in November 2020.<br />

John Hurst: I started my career in child support as an agent (case<br />

manager) in 1990. In 1994, I became a supervisor with Policy<br />

Studies, Inc., which was contracted with Georgia’s child support<br />

program to work non-TANF cases in Atlanta. After four years,<br />

MAXIMUS won the contract rebid, and I went to that company as an<br />

operations manager, where I stayed until 2007. I came back to work<br />

with the state in 2007 and held positions of compliance monitor, office<br />

manager, region manager, and deputy director before I was<br />

appointed as IV-D director in December 2020.<br />

Frank DiBiase: In 2004, with Sharon Santilli’s ascension from Chief<br />

Legal Counsel to Child Support Director, I was appointed as acting<br />

Chief Legal Counsel. In December 2004, I was honored to be made<br />

official Chief Legal Counsel of the agency. This appointment largely<br />

ended my days in court, as I graduated to legal issues and matters at<br />

a different level than individual cases. In May 2021, Director Santilli<br />

retired from state service. I was honored once again when in <strong>July</strong><br />

2021 I was appointed as the state’s child support director, which is<br />

Associate Director of the Rhode Island Office of Child Support<br />

Services (OCSS).<br />

What do you see as the role of the IV-D Director? Can you offer us a few<br />

examples?<br />

CS: I am very fortunate to have a seasoned team associated with our<br />

program. I am more an administrator than active hands-on manager<br />

of daily operations.<br />

JH: I’m not sure I can say that there is a primary role as there are so<br />

many different areas of focus. A few of the top roles include providing<br />

vision and oversight leadership to the program, serving as the face of<br />

the program for department leadership and the legislature, and

supporting the national child support organizations (NCCSD, NCSEA,<br />

ERICSA, and WICSEC).<br />

FD: My initial knee-jerk response to this question is that my primary<br />

responsibility is to make all the trains run on-time—or at least remain<br />

on the track. I think this is reflective of all the various components<br />

associated with the position. Perhaps at a more general level, I would<br />

say my “primary” role is to make sure child support payments are<br />

being paid for the benefit of children and families. But because there<br />

are so many components to the child support program, I tend to view<br />

my job as overseeing the various components of the program and<br />

advancing it down the track.<br />

Perhaps one of the most important aspects, I believe, involves full<br />

transparency with the staff so it hopefully views management as at<br />

least fair, reasonable, and committed to trying to address their needs.<br />

I reinforce the appreciation I have for every member of the agency by<br />

personally funding a random drawing every two months to choose a<br />

staff member who will receive $100 as a thank you.<br />

What was the most surprising part of your new job?<br />

CS: The bureaucratic red tape that causes government to move so<br />

slowly. Coming from the private sector, that has been the biggest<br />

adjustment for me.<br />

JH: I would say that one of the most surprising parts of this new role<br />

was that I had to learn to be careful with what I say. I learned quickly<br />

that I was often the final decision maker, and what I said could be<br />

taken as direction or a final decision. I’m a bit of an introvert naturally,<br />

and it surprised me that people listened to what I said!<br />

FD: Having been with the agency for more than 30 years and having<br />

worked very closely with the previous director, I was familiar with<br />

almost all the responsibilities associated with the position of child<br />

support director. There is one aspect that has surprised me—and in a<br />

pleasant way too. I did not realize that most of the other state child<br />

support directors worked in such a close manner. These other<br />

directors are constantly in communication, and most are eager to<br />

help others in any way possible. As much as I worked closely with our<br />

state’s previous director, I did not fully appreciate the degree to which<br />

other directors are a resource for guidance and assistance.

What is the key to a successful program?<br />

CS: Excellence in delivery of customer service.<br />

JH: I believe that effective communication is a key to any successful<br />

organization or program. It’s important that the program has a clear<br />

understanding of the direction, priorities, and goals so that everyone<br />

is paddling in the same direction. We recently converted to a new<br />

eFiling system and one of the first things we did was make sure we<br />

had a communication plan to ensure that our staff and key<br />

stakeholders were aware of the change, what the benefits of the new<br />

system were, and the rollout schedule.<br />

FD: I would identify four “keys” to a successful program activity. The<br />

first is resources. No matter the desire, if there simply are not<br />

sufficient funds or personnel, it can very easily derail a well-intended<br />

and even well-planned project.<br />

Secondly, good advance planning is a necessity. If an agency desires<br />

to embark on a major project, it needs to try to anticipate in advance<br />

as many potential issues that might arise or result from the effort as<br />

possible.<br />

Third, I cannot overstate how important knowledgeable and motivated<br />

senior staff are to the success of any endeavor. I say this because,<br />

regardless of the skill set of any child support agency director, it is<br />

impossible to be an expert in every category.<br />

Fourth, the entire agency needs to view the agency staff as a team. I<br />

think this is how best to achieve some ends where the result is<br />

dependent on a multitude of staff. It is necessary to reinforce that<br />

there is no one unit of the agency that is more important than<br />

another. This also requires the periodic recognition of staff when a<br />

project is achieved.<br />

What would you say to new and aspiring directors?<br />

CS: From my perspective, representing families in child support<br />

cases is vastly different from managing the IV-D program. The<br />

general public has no knowledge of the many regulations and

equirements and behind-the-scenes operations that result in a<br />

successful IV-D program.<br />

JH: For someone interested in becoming a IV-D director, I would<br />

recommend that you learn the “business” of child support. By that, I<br />

mean understand how the program and incentive funding works and<br />

what impacts the 157 report. Know how to drive performance.<br />

Secondly, I would encourage a potential director to become involved<br />

in the national organizations, such as NCSEA, ERICSA, WICSEC,<br />

and NTCSA. These organizations expose you to a great community<br />

of child support leaders and provide you the ability to help shape the<br />

direction of the child support program. Lastly, once you become a<br />

director, build a strong team around you. You will not have the ability<br />

to be too involved in day-to-day operations and you will need to rely<br />

on your leadership team to carry out your program’s vision.<br />

FD: I guess if I had to deliver one simple piece of advice, it would be<br />

do not hesitate to ask questions if you do not understand something,<br />

and do not hesitate to express a view even if you realize it is going to<br />

be a minority view. I have sometimes been struck that after I have<br />

raised what I thought was an obvious issue, someone in the group will<br />

readily admit that they had not thought of that, and sometimes I have<br />

been the person who says I did not anticipate a point raised by<br />

someone else. I think the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson (or a simpler<br />

variation by Thomas Carlyle) apply greatly in the child support world:<br />

“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that<br />

I learn from him [or her].”<br />

Hopefully, with these interviews you’ve learned that above all things being<br />

director requires individuality and passion for the program. Though our<br />

states are different, organizations are different, and “official titles” are<br />

different, we all have the same passion. Special thanks to my colleagues<br />

for taking their time to share!<br />

Konitra Jack serves as Louisiana CSE Director, which directs the programmatic<br />

operations for the child support enforcement section. Konitra joined the Child Support<br />

Enforcement team in 2008 as a caseworker in Baton Rouge, LA. Konitra Jack is from<br />

Baker, LA. She is a wife and the mother of a 10 and 11-year-old. She holds a Bachelor<br />

of Science Degree in Mathematics, a Master’s in Business Administration, and Juris<br />

Doctorate from Southern University Law Center. Konitra serves on the NCSEA PGR,<br />

NCSEA U, and <strong>CSQ</strong> Committees. She also serves on the NCCSD Policy & Practice,<br />

Systems & Modernization, and Audit Committees, and the ERICSA Policy and<br />

Legislation Committee.

Procedural Justice in the Child Support<br />

Process: A Research-Informed Approach<br />

by Kate Wurmfeld, Center for Court Innovation<br />

The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC)<br />

demonstration project, which began in 2016, integrated principles of<br />

procedural justice into enforcement practices in six child support programs<br />

across the United States. Procedural justice involves perceptions of<br />

fairness in processes that resolve disputes and result in decisions.<br />

Research has shown that if people perceive a process to be fair, they will<br />

be more likely to accept the outcome whether or not the outcome was<br />

favorable to them. 1 It is important to note that procedural justice should not<br />

be a replacement for examining underlying structural issues and unfairness<br />

in systems. Instead, principles of procedural justice should be considered<br />

tools in a toolbox to achieve broader reforms in the way systems and<br />

professionals interact with and impact the public.<br />

The PJAC demonstration project targeted noncustodial parents who were<br />

at the point of being referred to the legal system for civil contempt of court. 2<br />

These parents had not met their child support obligations even though child<br />

support programs, based on state guidelines, had determined that they had<br />

the ability to pay. The PJAC demonstration project aimed to address<br />

parents’ reasons for not paying, improve the consistency of their payments,<br />

and promote their positive engagement with the other parent and their<br />

children, as well as the legitimacy of the child support program.<br />

1<br />

The PJAC demonstration was developed by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE),<br />

which is within the Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human<br />

Services. MDRC is leading a random assignment study of the model’s effectiveness in collaboration with<br />

research partners at MEF Associates and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI). Parents are assigned at<br />

random to either a program group offered PJAC services or to a control group not eligible to receive<br />

PJAC services; instead, the control group proceeds with the standard contempt process. Oversight of the<br />

evaluation is provided by the Georgia Division of Child Support Services. For an overview of the PJAC<br />

demonstration, see “Project.” Swaner et al. (2018).<br />

2<br />

The noncustodial parent is the parent who has been ordered to pay child support and is generally the<br />

parent who does not live with the child. The other parent is referred to as the custodial parent.

In 2020, PJAC added five new “peer learning” sites, 3 selected to address<br />

specific agency challenges and to develop their own procedural justiceinformed<br />

projects at various stages of the child support process. As<br />

opposed to focusing only on the contempt phase, they also considered<br />

establishment, modification, and enforcement. These new sites benefited<br />

from the experience and expertise of the original PJAC sites, and from<br />

training and technical assistance from the Office of Child Support<br />

Enforcement (OCSE), MDRC, MEF Associates, and the Center for Court<br />

Innovation.<br />

The PJAC grant is drawing to a close after six years of project development<br />

and implementation, and research and evaluation across six demonstration<br />

grant and five peer learning sites. OCSE and the PJAC partners hope that<br />

State and Tribal IV-D programs can draw from lessons learned to develop<br />

more family-centered practices, utilizing procedural justice principles to<br />

build trust, engage participants, and reduce bias in child support collection.<br />

This article will provide an overview of procedural justice research and<br />

guiding principles for the field as child support programs consider adopting<br />

a procedural justice-informed approach to service delivery. The article can<br />

also be viewed as a companion piece with the PJAC Implementation<br />

Guide, which contains specific guidance and examples for child support<br />

programs looking for practical ways to incorporate procedural justice in<br />

every stage of the child support process. 4 When adapted to local<br />

jurisdictions’ unique needs and characteristics, implementing these lessons<br />

will enable child support programs to promote procedural justice in the<br />

context of broader systems reform work.<br />

Procedural Justice Principles: What Does the Research Say?<br />

The guiding principle of procedural justice is that people believe that they<br />

are being treated fairly and with respect, and that their concerns are taken<br />

seriously. Research demonstrates a connection between how participants<br />

experience the process and their willingness to engage with the system. 5<br />

While procedural justice is well established in the legal field, the PJAC<br />

project is the first rigorous test of the impact of procedural justice on the<br />

child support process. While the findings from PJAC are still forthcoming,<br />

3<br />

The five peer learning sites are Georgia; St. Joseph County, Indiana; Minnesota; Texas; and Brown<br />

County, Wisconsin.<br />

4<br />

Procedural Justice in the Child Support Process | MDRC<br />

5<br />

Tyler (2003); Swaner et al. (2018).

the foundational research shows that people are more likely to view the<br />

legal system as fair when the following elements are present: 6<br />

Voice (participants have an opportunity to be heard): For participants in the<br />

child support process, being able to speak out (if they so choose) and to be<br />

heard and acknowledged by caseworkers and other agency personnel is<br />

essential. Custodial parents, who may have encountered other<br />

professionals who ignored or minimized their experiences, may be more<br />

likely to see the agency as a source of help. For noncustodial parents,<br />

research from other legal contexts demonstrates that when people feel they<br />

are being heard, their perceptions of fairness increase. They may then be<br />

more likely to engage with the child support system and make more<br />

consistent support payments.<br />

Respect (participants feel that they are being treated with dignity): When<br />

caseworkers and other agency staff members interact respectfully with all<br />

parties to a case (including respecting their roles as parents), participants<br />

are more likely to feel that the process is fair.<br />

Understanding (participants understand the child support process and how<br />

decisions are made): Participants are often confused by child support<br />

processes and procedural rules, the language the agency uses, and other<br />

aspects of their cases. When agencies clearly explain the rules and how<br />

they are applied, research confirms that participants are much more likely<br />

to understand how to meet their support obligations and to see the agency<br />

as a helpful resource.<br />

Neutrality (participants believe that decision-making is free from bias):<br />

Promoting neutrality does not mandate that all participants receive identical<br />

services and support. Instead, it requires that they be treated equitably and<br />

that they receive meaningful information and support tailored to assist them<br />

in their circumstances with their specific needs. Promoting this type of<br />

equity in service delivery can improve perceptions of fairness and help<br />

address underlying systemic issues that act as barriers to fairness,<br />

particularly among people from marginalized communities.<br />

Helpfulness (participants believe that staff members are interested in their<br />

specific situation, to the extent the law allows): Many noncustodial parents<br />

have complex needs that serve as barriers to complying with their child<br />

6<br />

Center for Court Innovation (2012); Rempel (2014).

support orders. They may have had negative and punitive experiences with<br />

the child support agency, making it difficult for them to trust that the agency<br />

is there to help. Promoting helpfulness, by supporting parents holistically<br />

and addressing their particular needs, has been shown to shift perceptions<br />

and can encourage parents to engage with the process. Custodial parents<br />

may also have had negative experiences. A helpful process will make it<br />

more likely that they, too, will trust the agency and view it as a resource.<br />

Every staff person in the child support agency can contribute to the fairness<br />

of the child support process based on how they treat participants, and the<br />

policies and procedures they promote. Child support professionals may<br />

recognize good, common-sense practices that engage clients, and may<br />

already be incorporating all or some of these practices in their work.<br />

However, many aspects of child support systems can serve as barriers to<br />

positively engaging participants.<br />

Guiding Principles and Overcoming Barriers to Implementing<br />

Procedural Justice<br />

Promoting fair and equitable processes is critical to increasing access to<br />

justice and building trust in legal and social service systems. The following<br />

principles address barriers to promoting procedural justice and access to<br />

justice generally.<br />

Cultural Responsiveness and Reducing Bias<br />

Cultural responsiveness may be defined as “the ability to learn from and<br />

relate respectfully with people of your own culture as well as those from<br />

other cultures.” 7 A culturally responsive agency will ensure that it is<br />

welcoming and truly accessible to individuals from all cultures within a<br />

community, including those from underserved or marginalized groups, and<br />

that child support processes are fair and understandable. Child support<br />

agencies may find it more challenging to engender trust among<br />

marginalized communities. People in these communities may be wary of<br />

government systems. They may have experienced historic oppression<br />

based on race or gender identity, disproportionate rates of incarceration,<br />

7<br />

National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (2008); Warshaw, Tinnon, and Cave<br />


and negative interactions with law enforcement and other legal entities.<br />

Promoting cultural responsiveness and working to eliminate bias in all child<br />

support services is critical to building trust. In addition to training staff<br />

members, child support programs should develop policies and use tools<br />

and resources that address bias and intercultural competence. In particular,<br />

they need to increase awareness of how bias or cultural blindness affects<br />

their delivery of services to a diverse caseload. 8<br />

Practices That Respond to Trauma<br />

One of the biggest challenges for child support programs is to understand<br />

the trauma many individuals have experienced in their personal lives and in<br />

their interactions with systems intended to help them. If child support<br />

programs can enhance procedures to account for trauma in the child<br />

support process and in their policies and decision-making, participants will<br />

be better able to avoid re-traumatization, engage with the system, and take<br />

advantage of interventions. Raising awareness among staff members of<br />

the existence of trauma and its effects on participants’ willingness to view<br />

the child support program as a resource is essential to effectively serving<br />

parents and children. 9<br />

Promoting Safety and Enhancing Responses to Intimate Partner<br />

Violence<br />

A total of 10.9 percent of child support cases nationally have a family<br />

violence indicator—that is, a mechanism in child support data systems that<br />

identifies a party as needing to have their personal information protected<br />

because of risks of domestic violence. Policies vary by state, but family<br />

violence indicators can also guide service delivery in other ways, typically<br />

involving additional safeguards to promote safety. Nevertheless, it is<br />

difficult to accurately measure the percentage of child support cases<br />

involving intimate partner violence. Survivors of violence often do not feel<br />

safe reporting their experiences. One large-scale survey of custodial<br />

parents suggests that close to four of ten fathers in the child support<br />

system have a history of domestic violence against the mother or child. 10<br />

Domestic violence involves coercive controlling behavior by one partner<br />

8<br />

The State of Minnesota is using the IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory; https://idiinventory.com) to<br />

build intercultural competence and to inform its procedural justice work.<br />

9<br />

Warshaw, Tinnon, and Cave (2018); The Trauma Stewardship institute (2021).<br />

10<br />

Osbourne et al. (2013).

against the other. It can affect how parties to a case interact with each<br />

other and with the child support agency. If it is not adequately understood<br />

or addressed, the program risks being complicit with the parent causing<br />

harm and endangering the safety and security of survivors. For example,<br />

survivors may not be able to advocate for themselves because of power<br />

imbalances or may be fearful of engaging in the process at all. Parents who<br />

cause harm may try to use the process to further exert control or harass the<br />

survivor parent. Programs should account for the possibility of intimate<br />

partner violence throughout the process and in every case. They need to<br />

train staff persons, implement screening, develop specific case<br />

management strategies, and collaborate with community service providers<br />

to provide appropriate referrals and interventions. 11<br />

Parenting Time and Child Support Processes 12<br />

Child support programs are clear that financial support and parenting time<br />

are legally separate issues. While there are valid reasons for this policy,<br />

and child support agencies are prohibited from using federal funds to<br />

address parenting times issues, the separation of these two core parenting<br />

functions poses a fundamental challenge in terms of how parents perceive<br />

the fairness of the child support process. From a noncustodial parent’s<br />

perspective, the system is solely focused on their responsibilities and<br />

completely disinterested in their rights. A custodial parent—even a parent<br />

who has experienced intimate partner violence—may not understand why<br />

they cannot access safe parenting time orders without the need for a<br />

separate action. In response, many child support agencies have developed<br />

mechanisms for addressing parenting time rights. Thirty-five states, for<br />

example, include some parenting time calculations in their child support<br />

guidelines. While this tacitly acknowledges the intertwined relationship of<br />

financial support and parenting time, it further clouds the validity of<br />

separating the two issues from many parents’ perspectives. Simply telling<br />

parents child support and parenting time are two separate legal issues, and<br />

that agencies cannot use federal child support funds to address parenting<br />

time, is insufficient to counter parents' distrust of this policy. Child support<br />

11<br />

The Center for Court Innovation (2016); Battered Women Justice Project (2021).<br />

12<br />

In some states where the child support agency has developed processes to incorporate a parenting<br />

time order into the initial child support order, policies and procedures have been implemented to address<br />

the critical safety issues posed by the high prevalence of domestic violence. These states screen for<br />

domestic violence, provide education to parents about safety modified parenting time options, collaborate<br />

with domestic violence service and legal assistance providers, and in some instances provide evidence<br />

for courts to use when establishing safety modified/restricted parenting time orders.

agencies must account for how parents perceive the separation of support<br />

and parenting time, and for the ways in which the policy could contribute to<br />

actual unfairness or lack of access for some parents. Services for parents<br />

going through the child support process should be streamlined and should<br />

facilitate access to parenting time where it is safe to do so. OCSE has<br />

helped states identify ways to use the federal Access and Visitation Grant<br />

funding to provide this kind of assistance to parents. 13<br />

Child support programs should be a port of entry for helpful services to<br />

combat poverty and ensure that parents can meet their support obligations<br />

and nurture their children. Too often, parents experience the system as<br />

punitive and unhelpful, and lack trust in the legitimacy of the process. By<br />

instituting family-centered practices using principles of procedural justice,<br />

programs can transform participants’ experiences and create a more fair<br />

and respectful process. As a result, parents will be more likely to engage<br />

with the process, view it as a resource, and be willing and able to<br />

consistently support and interact with their children.<br />

Kate Wurmfeld, Esq. is the Director of Family Court Programs at the Center for Court<br />

Innovation (Center). In this role, Kate oversees the Center’s Family Court operating<br />

projects and provides national technical assistance and strategic planning advice to<br />

courts wishing to improve their response to domestic violence. Kate has extensive<br />

experience providing direct legal services on cases involving domestic violence, most<br />

recently as a supervising attorney for Matrimonial and Family Law at New York Legal<br />

Assistance Group, where she handled divorce, custody, orders of protection and<br />

support matters in Supreme and Family Court throughout New York City. Kate<br />

graduated from Seton Hall Law School and Oberlin College.<br />

13<br />

Examples of AV grant-funded innovations include free access to mediation and waived filing fees for<br />

parenting time orders established at the same time as a child support order, online parenting time order<br />

legal forms generation platforms that provide parents with a ready-to-file parenting time order, and<br />

statewide legal assistance hotlines to help parents resolve parenting time conflicts and access legal<br />

services when needed.

Electronic Document Exchange: Image Delivery<br />

in a Heartbeat<br />

by Beth Dittus, North Dakota DHS/CSE<br />

Susan Smith, Indiana Child Support Bureau<br />

Christopher Breen, Massachusetts DOR/CSED<br />

Electronic Document Exchange (EDE) is an application within the federal<br />

Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) Portal that is used by 40<br />

jurisdictions to securely exchange intergovernmental forms, and other<br />

forms, online. While EDE has always been a valuable tool for state and<br />

county IV-D programs, EDE took on added importance during the COVID-<br />

19 pandemic. With COVID-19, most jurisdictions saw a significant shift<br />

toward telework and a nationwide closure of child support offices that<br />

forced all states to grapple with logistical concerns, such as how to access<br />

documents received by mail, how to ensure those documents were<br />

processed within mandatory federal timeframes, and how to convert those<br />

documents into images that would remain accessible to staff for case<br />

consult and audit purposes.<br />

The IV-D programs in Indiana and North Dakota both use EDE extensively,<br />

though leverage its functionality in different manners. Susan Smith,<br />

Indiana’s IV-D Intergovernmental Liaison, and Beth Dittus with North<br />

Dakota’s IV-D program, took some time to share their EDE success stories.<br />

Indiana began using EDE in early 2014. While Indiana was not the first to<br />

embrace EDE, the extent to which Indiana began utilizing EDE and

continues to utilize EDE far exceeds the initial scope proposed to the<br />

agency.<br />

Indiana has a state-run, county-administered structure. There are 92<br />

counties with 91 enforcement offices that have cooperative agreements<br />

with the state to enforce child support cases. As the county offices are not<br />

on the state computer network, and Indiana does not have an encrypted e-<br />

mail system, the state mails its child support documents to the county<br />

offices. Indiana is not fully paperless; rather, it uses a legacy system that<br />

does not support document storage capabilities. Given these restrictions,<br />

EDE has been invaluable to Indiana. And for those states that are already<br />

paperless, EDE is a seamless tool all around.<br />

When EDE was first implemented in Indiana,<br />

fewer states were using it and most other<br />

states were not significant trading partners. It<br />

was determined that Indiana’s Central<br />

Registry would send all intergovernmental<br />

documents to the local county offices via EDE<br />

to give everyone some hands-on experience<br />

with the tool. Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) petitions<br />

received are now scanned on a multi-purpose device. A cover letter and<br />

acknowledgment are completed and attached to the scanned documents<br />

and these documents are subsequently sent to the counties via EDE for<br />

enforcement. Since the images are available in real-time, enforcement<br />

actions can commence immediately without any delay. Gone are the days<br />

of UIFSA petitions being ”lost in the mail.” In addition, Indiana immediately<br />

saw savings in postage costs.<br />

Soft copies of the UIFSA petitions are kept in a secure folder on the state<br />

server where their images remain available for future reference. EDE has<br />

greatly improved the ability of the Indiana Central Registry to provide more<br />

robust customer service to other states.<br />

Indiana’s local offices are now quite proficient at sending and receiving<br />

documents via EDE, and since EDE allows jurisdictions to relay images<br />

securely, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Federal Tax<br />

Information (FTI), Indiana decided to look for even more ways to leverage<br />

it. As a result of this reexamination, Indiana started using EDE as a twoway<br />

communication tool for many situations involving its local offices and<br />

offices at the state level. Indiana has also been using EDE to send its

Intergovernmental Case Reconciliation Error reports as well as documents<br />

for hearings and bankruptcies. Another area where Indiana uses EDE is its<br />

online application for IV-D services. These applications are processed at<br />

the state level and their associated documents are sent to the local offices<br />

with EDE. Lastly, Indiana plans to utilize EDE to exchange case files for<br />

data reliability and self-assessment audits for the first time this year.<br />

Indiana is in the process of implementing a new computer system for its IV-<br />

D program, named INvest, and is excited that staff will be able to upload<br />

documents to it. This will be a game-changer as it will allow documents<br />

from EDE to be downloaded and then directly uploaded to INvest, without<br />

the need for printing. Also, documents will be stored with respective cases<br />

in one place, instead of in<br />

multiple locations.<br />

North Dakota’s IV-D program<br />

is state-administered and<br />

organized by functional unit.<br />

Despite differences in<br />

organizational structure from<br />

EDE also allows states to limit access to<br />

certain portal users and produce reports<br />

summarizing requests, responses, and<br />

documents sent and received.<br />

Indiana, North Dakota likewise gained invaluable efficiency through EDE.<br />

North Dakota’s EDE implementation effort began during the planning phase<br />

of a federal grant project focused on improving intergovernmental<br />

casework. In 2019, OCSE awarded the Intergovernmental Case<br />

Processing Innovation Demonstration grant to North Dakota. In part, North<br />

Dakota’s project focused on improving communication with other states<br />

and decreasing processing timeframes in incoming and outgoing<br />

intergovernmental cases. EDE proved to be an asset in accomplishing<br />

these goals.<br />

During implementation, the agency took advantage of the EDE test<br />

environment to explore how to best use EDE to complement the statewide<br />

systems already in place. Through testing, it was discovered that it was<br />

very easy to move documents from EDE to the next appropriate workflow<br />

or electronic filing system. EDE turned out to be a much more convenient<br />

way to receive documents than regular mail because there was no<br />

scanning required. The documents could be kept in electronic form when<br />

moved from EDE to the next system.<br />

EDE also allows states to limit access to certain portal users and produce<br />

reports summarizing requests, responses, and documents sent and<br />

received. Capitalizing on these features, the agency was able to designate

specific users that would be responsible for receiving documents and<br />

responding to requests. These users were then able to forward documents,<br />

as needed, through the workflow system already in place. This approach<br />

was designed to ensure that all requests were responded to in a timely and<br />

consistent manner and that all documents were forwarded to the<br />

appropriate case manager. The report feature offers an extra safety net to<br />

assist in identifying outstanding requests and documents pending<br />

download, so all cases are accounted for and properly serviced.<br />

North Dakota implemented EDE in October 2020. The agency found that<br />

staff were excited to use EDE and “hit the ground running.” Due to the<br />

pandemic, most staff were telecommuting when the agency went live. Staff<br />

in other jurisdictions were also telecommuting and limited work capabilities<br />

associated with the pandemic meant that some states were able to receive<br />

documents and respond to requests only through electronic means during<br />

certain periods. Thus, the ability to send and receive documents<br />

electronically in intergovernmental cases became more important than<br />

ever.<br />

The agency immediately realized the efficiency achieved by electronically<br />

exchanging documents. There was no wait time associated with mailing<br />

intergovernmental packets or limited service requests for documents; it<br />

could be simply and quickly accomplished through EDE. Even workers who<br />

were initially intimidated to learn a new application found that it was userfriendly<br />

and enjoyed having a history of actions temporarily recorded for<br />

both jurisdictions to reference. In addition, mailing costs for lengthy<br />

intergovernmental packets and requests were avoided. On average, North<br />

Dakota sends about 75 intergovernmental packets to responding<br />

jurisdictions each month, while over<br />

100 requests for limited services are<br />

made each month to EDE states<br />

alone. Gaining efficiency while saving<br />

costs was a great success.<br />

North Dakota uses all EDE functions,<br />

including document requests.<br />

Intergovernmental workers have<br />

found EDE’s request feature<br />

particularly beneficial because it<br />

allows a request for common documents, such as certified orders and<br />

payment records, to be made without the completion of a Transmittal #3<br />

and Confidential Information Form. Additionally, electronic versions of the

documents sent and received are retained in EDE for a temporary period.<br />

Outgoing intergovernmental workers have found this retention feature<br />

particularly beneficial when a responding jurisdiction requests a specific<br />

document that was already provided in an initial intergovernmental packet.<br />

Communication is one of the biggest challenges faced in intergovernmental<br />

casework. During the pandemic, agencies have learned to communicate<br />

with each other in new and inventive ways, maximizing the use of<br />

technology to the greatest extent possible. North Dakota is currently in the<br />

process of implementing the Communication Center and is excited about<br />

the new features it offers. North Dakota looks forward to continuing its work<br />

with its partners via EDE and invites states considering utilizing the portal<br />

to communicate and exchange documents to reach out to learn more about<br />

North Dakota’s experience.<br />

The Indiana and North Dakota IV-D programs clearly illustrate the value of<br />

EDE, and the ability to use EDE for both internal and external image<br />

transfer. Whether your jurisdiction currently utilizes EDE or not, there is a<br />

quarterly EDE Consortium meeting, and all interested in EDE are welcome<br />

to attend. This group consists of states with significant EDE experience,<br />

states new to EDE, and states considering the use of EDE. Many state<br />

proposals come from these meetings, and OCSE has been receptive to<br />

feedback.<br />

If your jurisdiction has a question regarding EDE or would like to enroll in<br />

the EDE program, please contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement<br />

FPLS Support Team at FPLSSupport@acf.hhs.gov.<br />

For more information on how North Dakota and Indiana leverage EDE,<br />

please contact Beth Dittus at bldittus@nd.gov or Susan Smith at<br />

Susan.Smith@dcs.IN.gov.<br />

_________________________________________<br />

Beth Dittus has been with the North Dakota Child Support Division since 2013, serving in a<br />

dual role within the legal and policy units. As an attorney, she assists with various legal matters,<br />

including the statewide management of complex cases and appeals and provides support with<br />

legislative issues. In her policy role, she focuses her time on policy development and<br />

implementation in numerous areas, including specializing in intergovernmental child support<br />

proceedings.<br />

Susan Smith is the supervisor of the Intergovernmental Central Registry Unit for the Indiana<br />

Child Support Bureau. Susan has been with the Indiana State Child Support Bureau since<br />

January 1990, acting as the supervisor of the Intergovernmental Central Registry Unit (ICRU)<br />

since June 2007. She has served as the main point of contact for all things intergovernmental in

Indiana, including Electronic Document Exchange (EDE), Query Interstate Cases for Kids<br />

(QUICK), and the Intergovernmental Reference Guide (IRG) as well as how they all work<br />

together. Susan currently serves as a member of the ERICSA Policy and Legislation<br />

Committee.<br />

Christopher Breen is in his 30 th year of child support enforcement, his 19 th in a managerial<br />

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

the Northern Region of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Child Support<br />

Enforcement Division. Chris has also acted as project manager for several significant<br />

implementations, including Massachusetts’ recent Virtual Counter implementation that<br />

leverages Zoom breakout rooms to provide online customer service. He possesses a B.A. from<br />

Providence College with a focus in English, and an M.A. from the University of Massachusetts in<br />

English. He is currently pursuing an MBA degree.

Preparation,Connection,and Competency<br />

in Hiring: We’re Looking for the Best!<br />

by Tamara L. Thomas, Stanislaus County, California<br />

Long gone are the days when you could simply ask a few “Customer Service,”<br />

“Dealing with Conflict,” or “What is your management style?” questions to hire<br />

a good employee for your team or office. If you are in a position like most<br />

public and private agencies where attracting the right candidate for<br />

employment is centric to having success in your service delivery, you’ve<br />

probably gathered that employers are facing a post-pandemic labor market<br />

where employees hold a great deal of options deciding where they will elect to<br />

be employed. Despite these circumstances, employers still need to ensure that<br />

their hiring practices bring the right behaviors and competencies into their<br />

organizations by asking potential employees the appropriate legal and valuedriven<br />

questions. So, how do organizations make sure the best and the<br />

brightest are at the interview table?<br />

Here are three ways organizations, hiring panels, supervisors, and managers<br />

can use the brief interview time they have to best assess candidates.<br />

1. Prepare to Conduct an Effective Job Interview<br />

Candidates have more options in deciding what agency and job they may<br />

apply for, so make sure before running a recruitment that you can make the job<br />

attractive to potential job seekers. Review your job descriptions and flyers to<br />

ensure the classifications and job titles are as up-to-date as needed to enable<br />

you to construct relevant questions that will pique an applicant’s interest. Make<br />

sure job titles and typical tasks reflect today’s labor market expectations for<br />

similar positions. Do the duties and responsibilities listed reflect the actual<br />

current duties performed by incumbents or are they outdated? Many child<br />

support agencies have updated job titles to reflect an emphasis on customer<br />

service instead of enforcement. Agencies are moving away from titles that<br />

include “officer” to titles such as Child Support Specialists, Child Support<br />

Consultants, and Child Support Associates. Any changes to title and job tasks

may require an agency to meet and confer with the appropriate labor union. As<br />

this takes time, make sure that you and your Human Resource (HR) Team<br />

review the job classification requirements and titles prior to opening the<br />

recruitment. An updated job task analysis will help your agency form interview<br />

questions that paint a picture of the actual work being performed for the<br />

position for which you are hiring.<br />

Most job interviews tend to be nerve-racking. Prepare in<br />

advance to make the job interview enjoyable and<br />

comfortable for your applicants. It’s difficult for potential<br />

employees to put forward their best effort when their cortisol<br />

levels are soaring. Don’t try to intentionally make it a<br />

miserable experience. Give applicants an idea prior to arrival<br />

of what topics will be discussed. While you certainly wouldn’t<br />

disclose the actual questions for the interview, it’s perfectly<br />

acceptable to advise applicants of the topics or categories<br />

that are likely to be brought up. Purposefully trying to stump candidates does<br />

nothing but increase anxiety and limit your ability to accurately assess their<br />

skills. You never want interviews to be adversarial. Set a positive tone and<br />

remember applicants are also interviewing you.<br />

Try to make a connection even if your time with the applicant is brief. Be warm,<br />

friendly, and professional. To put candidates at ease, take some time to<br />

introduce your agency and explain the interview process. Emphasizing your<br />

humanity helps the candidates feel welcome, enabling you to see them in a<br />

more relaxed state to proceed with interview questions. One best practice is to<br />

provide applicants with a letter about the department, including its budget, its<br />

values, behavior, and quality expectations for employees in the workplace, and<br />

what they can expect from leadership if they choose to join the team. This<br />

letter should be provided in advance of any conditional offer or final interview<br />

so the applicant knows the department is interested in them.<br />

2. Identify Job-Related Behavioral Competencies and Create<br />

Behaviorally Anchored Interview Questions<br />

Creating appropriate interview questions is key to determining how well-suited<br />

an applicant is for the position. The best type of interview question allows a<br />

candidate to demonstrate a past ability to perform work in a specific situation.<br />

How well a person describes their experience will give you a much better<br />

understanding of the candidate. For example, almost anyone can answer the

question, “What’s your biggest accomplishment?” Not everyone, however, can<br />

answer questions like, “Can you share with me a major strategic decision you<br />

made in a previous role and how you went about making this decision? What<br />

did you feel most proud of about the decision? What did you learn from the<br />

experience?” To answer behavioral-based questions, candidates need to set<br />

up the situation, describe the tasks needing to be completed, explain what<br />

actions were completed, and talk in detail about the results. The quality of the<br />

outcomes they convey, and how well candidates demonstrate their skills and<br />

abilities, provide a much better understanding of candidates. Behavioral-based<br />

questions also provide insight into candidates’ ability to conduct themselves<br />

professionally, competently, and with confidence.<br />

So how do you determine what competencies upon which to base your<br />

interview questions? Any competency that is a key requirement of the job gives<br />

an opportunity to showcase quality and quantity efforts and serve your mission.<br />

In Stanislaus County, all leadership positions are tasked with 11 core<br />

leadership competencies that the county believes are essential to executives,<br />

managers, and mid-level supervisors. Each competency has a matrix that<br />

defines how well a person might<br />

demonstrate that competency. A few of<br />

those core leadership competencies<br />

include building effective teams,<br />

communication, conflict management,<br />

customer orientation, and effective<br />

decision making.<br />

Here is an example of how behavioral<br />

competencies can be used during the<br />

interview process. If your recruitment relies on the competency of effective<br />

decision making, choose behavioral questions to ask applicants, such as:<br />

• Looking over your experience and career, what was one of the hardest<br />

decisions you had to make as a manager? What made this a difficult<br />

decision?<br />

• Provide an example of an important decision you made that did not turn<br />

out to be the right decision and describe how you dealt with the resulting<br />

fallout.<br />

The following chart shows the layers of increasing skill demonstration to<br />

assess a candidate’s answer. Going across the columns from right to left, you<br />

will notice that a good answer builds upon a better answer, and the final left

column builds on skill demonstrated at the highest level of that competency.<br />

Higher level and benchmarkable competencies generally manifest by an<br />

outcome or solution that has an impact on an entire agency, team, or process.<br />

CORE<br />


Effective<br />

Decision<br />

Making<br />


SKILL<br />

• Makes timely<br />

decisions that<br />

demonstrate a<br />

broad and<br />

creative range of<br />

options and a<br />

view toward<br />

long-term<br />

solutions.<br />

• Gathers<br />

appropriate<br />

levels of data<br />

and conducts<br />

thorough<br />

analysis to make<br />

sound<br />

decisions.<br />

• Supports and<br />

rewards<br />

effective<br />

decisions made<br />

by middle<br />

managers.<br />

• Encourages new<br />

and creative<br />

alternatives.<br />

• Is valued by<br />

others for advice<br />

and solutions.<br />



OF SKILL<br />

• Makes timely<br />

decisions that<br />

demonstrate a<br />

broad and<br />

creative range<br />

of options.<br />

• Recommends<br />

best course of<br />

action based<br />

on thorough<br />

analysis of<br />

options and<br />

appropriate<br />

criteria or<br />

guidelines.<br />

• Supports and<br />

rewards<br />

effective<br />

decisions<br />

made by firstline<br />

supervisors.<br />

• Promotes new<br />

and creative<br />

alternatives.<br />



OF SKILL<br />

• Makes timely<br />

decisions<br />

based on the<br />

best<br />

information<br />

available.<br />

• Considers<br />

alternatives<br />

and selects the<br />

most effective<br />

ones.<br />

• Supports<br />

effective<br />

decisions<br />

made by<br />

employees.<br />

• Is open to new<br />

and creative<br />

alternatives.<br />

The more you conduct behavioral interviews focused on competencies tied to<br />

your organization, the more easily you will recognize higher levels of<br />

competency-based answers. The key to being a good evaluator is to ask<br />

yourself before using your recruitment rating system, “How well did the<br />

candidate demonstrate and answer the competency question by identifying the<br />

result of their prior performance and behavior?”

So, what makes a bad interview question bad? It’s always safest to ask only<br />

questions that solicit information from job candidates that directly apply to the<br />

skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform the job duties. Interview questions<br />

that discriminate against a candidate should never be used. Always avoid any<br />

question that raises information about a candidate’s age, race, religion,<br />

gender, disability status, or any other questions that refer to a protected class.<br />

Asking illegal questions could expose an organization to a discrimination claim<br />

and lawsuit. Employers should ensure that interviewers and anyone performing<br />

hiring responsibilities are well-versed in what qualifies as illegal interview<br />

questions. Here are some comparisons between illegal and legal questions:<br />

Work/Visa Status and Citizenship<br />

• Illegal: Are you a U.S. citizen? You sound like you have an accent,<br />

where are you from? Where were your parents born? What is your<br />

native language?<br />

• Legal: Are you authorized to work in the U.S.? What languages do<br />

you speak (only if relevant to the position)?<br />

Marital/Family Status<br />

• Illegal: Are you married? Do you have children? If so, what do you<br />

do for childcare? Are you planning to have children soon? Have you<br />

ever been divorced?<br />

• Legal: Are you willing and able to put in the amount of overtime<br />

and/or travel if the position requires it? Are you willing to relocate?<br />

Age<br />

• Illegal: How old are you? When were you born? How long have you<br />

been working?<br />

• Legal: Do you have any concerns about handling the long hours<br />

and extensive travel that this job entails? Are you at least 18 years<br />

of age (provided the job requires it)?<br />

Disability Status<br />

• Illegal: Do you have any disabilities or medical conditions? How is<br />

your health? Do you take any prescription drugs? Have you ever<br />

been in rehab?<br />

• Legal: Are you able to perform this job with or without reasonable<br />

accommodation? Do you have any conditions that would keep you<br />

from performing this job?<br />

Religion<br />

• Illegal: What is your religion? Are you practicing?<br />

• Legal: Can you work on weekends (only if the work requires it)?<br />


3. Consider Adding the Competencies of Creativity and Innovation to<br />

Your Organizational Profile<br />

The most important result of a behavioral-based interview is successfully<br />

predicting the chosen candidate’s future job performance. Consider using<br />

competencies like “creativity” and “innovation” to allow interviewees to freely<br />

express how they have developed new insights, questioned conventional<br />

approaches, encouraged innovations, and designed or implemented cuttingedge<br />

programs and workflows. Hiring for imagination and originality will attract<br />

people from all kinds of backgrounds, leading to an employee profile important<br />

to the larger success of the business. Hiring boards can help agencies by<br />

pointing out where an applicant has provided examples demonstrating<br />

creativity and innovation.<br />

Workplaces are at critical staffing junctures in addressing considerable<br />

vacancies and a lack of applicants. Hiring philosophies are changing rapidly,<br />

driven in part by the understanding that successful outcomes during the<br />

pandemic were largely rooted in the ability of employees and employers to be<br />

flexible and innovative. A creative workplace nurtures employees’ ability to<br />

create unique solutions to staffing and hiring challenges, even if employees<br />

haven’t fully learned or perfected the job’s technical skills. Employees hired<br />

with these types of competency traits will help develop and find new<br />

opportunities in the workplace while instilling a growth mindset.<br />

Talent management is no longer only an HR professional’s industry and<br />

responsibility, but the work of the collective organization. Inviting excellent<br />

talent to take their place in your organization starts with their opportunity to<br />

have interviews where they can showcase their competencies. Is the job well<br />

defined and accurate? Is the applicant connecting with your organization<br />

during the hiring experience? Do they have the opportunity to demonstrate<br />

their passion and interest to come and work for you? If you want the best and<br />

the brightest to accept employment with your agency, now is the time to<br />

reassess your recruiting practices to improve your ability to discover great<br />

candidates and turn them into your employees!<br />

Tamara Thomas is the Human Relations Director for the Stanislaus County Chief Executive<br />

Office in California and was previously the Stanislaus County California Department of Child<br />

Support Services Director. She has 33 years of county government experience, 27 of which<br />

were spent as a child support professional. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in<br />

Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco. Ms. Thomas has been a

frequent presenter and trainer for the California Child Support Directors Association (CSDA)<br />

and was President of the Western Intergovernmental Child Support Engagement Council<br />

(WICSEC) from 2016 to 2017. She was the first recipient of the National Child Support<br />

Enforcement Association’s (NCSEA) Outstanding Leadership Award in 2015. Most recently,<br />

she received the 2018 Stanislaus County Equal Rights Commission Award for exemplary<br />

service in Equal Employment Opportunity matters and leadership in promoting equal rights.<br />

She believes strongly in delivering excellent customer service and making a positive<br />

difference in the lives of both employees and the families served by public employees.

NCSEA <strong>2022</strong> Leadership Symposium:<br />

Take Your Skills to the Next Level!<br />

by Phyllis Nance, Linda Rhyne-McKinley, and Carla West<br />

NCSEA <strong>2022</strong> Leadership Symposium Co-Chairs<br />

The child support program needs dynamic, visionary leaders now more<br />

than ever. Shifting demographics, falling caseloads, and the Great<br />

Resignation instigated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic have created<br />

both significant challenges and opportunities. Are you ready to take your<br />

leadership skills to the next level to bring child support into the future?<br />

NCSEA’s Leadership Symposium is the premiere event for child support<br />

professionals to gain a national perspective on the IV-D program and hone<br />

leadership skills. The Symposium brings together top leaders and rising<br />

stars from across the nation to share ideas, explore new perspectives, and<br />

discover new ways to promote and deliver child support services. This<br />

year’s event will be held at The Westin Charlotte in historic downtown<br />

Charlotte, North Carolina, from August 7 to August 10. The location offers<br />

access to great food and the famous NASCAR Hall of Fame. The<br />

conference theme this year is “Level-Up: Transforming Tomorrow’s<br />

Leaders.” The Leadership Symposium Committee has worked diligently to<br />

create a next-level conference experience. We invite you to join us as we<br />

explore this theme through plenaries, workshops, and learning labs.<br />

“Team Synergy” kicks off the conference on Sunday. We’ve levelled up our<br />

Symposium Fair into a new experience aimed at amping up networking,<br />

brainstorming, and collaboration. Engage in Speed Networking and<br />

connect with new colleagues who can help you on your leadership journey<br />

beyond the conference. Participate in an Idea Exchange to kickstart<br />

thinking about the possibilities for the child support program. Tag our

Graffiti Board with thoughts, ideas, and images that express your<br />

experience throughout the event.<br />

We have six plenaries that focus on different facets of next-level leadership<br />

in the child support program. These are our “boss level” sessions—we’ve<br />

brought together leading experts and thought leaders to give us big-picture<br />

discussions about leadership, the future of the IV-D program, and the “why”<br />

behind our work.<br />

Our workshops offer an opportunity for leaders to take a deeper dive into<br />

promising practices, innovative programs and partnerships, and leadership<br />

trends. Over 30 workshops run the gamut from recruitment and retention to<br />

child support modernization, creating training rockstars, and beyond.<br />

We’re also excited to offer four learning labs this year. Our learning labs<br />

are designed to put your new skills into practice. Each of these highly<br />

interactive sessions will take you to the next level, whether it’s leading,<br />

talking about race, empowering parents to pay, or defeating domestic<br />

violence.<br />

For more details on the Symposium and to register,<br />

visit ncsealeadershipsymposium.org.<br />

See y’all in Charlotte!<br />

_________________________________________<br />

Phyllis Nance has 38 years of public service including 30 years in the child support<br />

program. She is currently the Director for the Alameda County Department of Child<br />

Support Services. She came to Alameda County in 2016 with 24 years of experience in<br />

the Kern County Department of Child Support Services, 8 of which she served as the<br />

Director. Phyllis has an extensive knowledge of the child support program and broad<br />

leadership experience having served in multiple leadership roles. Phyllis has a<br />

fundamental belief that child support creates a better life for children. She has a strong<br />

commitment to the child support program and currently serves on the boards of NCSEA<br />

and the California Child Support Directors Association (CSDA) as well as numerous<br />

committees advancing the value of child support. Phyllis has a Bachelor of Science in<br />

Organizational Management from the University of LaVerne and a Master’s Degree in<br />

Administration from Cal State Bakersfield.<br />

Linda Rhyne-McKinley has over 22 years in child support and is currently the Q&T<br />

Supervisor for Mecklenburg County Child Support Services, responsible for the training<br />

and professional development of 130+ staff members. Prior to her present role, she held<br />

several positions in the child support profession from front line child support agent to<br />

supervisory and managerial positions. Linda is currently on the NCSEA Board of

Directors and has served as NCSEA U Co-chair as well as several other NCSEA<br />

committees. She is an NCSEA U alum. She is a graduate of University of North<br />

Carolina-Chapel Hill.<br />

Carla West is Senior Director for Human Services and IV-D Director for the North<br />

Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She is charged with integrating<br />

and improving access to person-centered services, helping individuals and families in<br />

North Carolina achieve self-sufficiency and improved well-being. Carla serves on the<br />

board of the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA), a member of<br />

the Policy Forum and <strong>CSQ</strong> committees, and is co-chair of NCSEA’s <strong>2022</strong> Leadership<br />

Symposium. A past president of the Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support<br />

Association (ERICSA), Carla is a member of ERICSA’s Honorary Board. She is an exofficio<br />

board member of the North Carolina Child Support Council and is on the board of<br />

the North Carolina Council for Developmental Disabilities. Carla has an M.B.A. and B.S.<br />

in Business Management from Bellevue University. She is a firm believer in trying things<br />

without fear of failure and strives to live a life of purpose.

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