April 2023 NCSEA CSQ

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Table of Contents<br />

<strong>April</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

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

Community Corner: Reflections on Diversity, Equity,<br />

and Inclusion Efforts in Child Support...................................….6<br />

Shaping the Future of Child Support with a Comprehensive<br />

Proposal to Congress: Part I …………………………………......9<br />

Breaking Barriers, Building Relationships: Lessons Learned<br />

from Ohio and Virginia on the Value of Working with Parents<br />

…………...................................................... ................... ……...19<br />

Family-First Distribution of Federal Tax Refund Offset<br />

Collections: Why DRA Distribution is Key …………………….…27<br />

It’s Time to Make Families the Priority …………………………..34<br />

OCSE implements the Central Authority Payment<br />

(CAP) Service …..................………………………………..…….41<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong>’S <strong>2023</strong> Policy Forum Wrap-up “Engagement –<br />

Delivering Quality Services with a Passion for Helping Families”<br />

………………………….....................……………………….........44<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> U Spotlight ………………………………………............49<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> U Info ………………………………………....................50

James C. Fleming, <strong>NCSEA</strong> President<br />

It was great to see so many child support professionals at the <strong>2023</strong> <strong>NCSEA</strong><br />

Policy Forum for our annual exchange of ideas on how to move the<br />

program forward. Unfortunately, less than two weeks after the Policy<br />

Forum, state child support agencies received news from the Internal<br />

Revenue Service (IRS) that could cause child support programs to take an<br />

unprecedented step backward and negatively impact families.<br />

The Title IV-D child support program has long been a model of innovation<br />

and partnership of state, local, and tribal government agencies and private<br />

partners. Federal child support laws and regulations provide a lot of<br />

flexibility for service delivery through public or private entities.<br />

Unfortunately, the provisions on child support agencies’ use of federal tax<br />

information (FTI) in Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC)<br />

appear much less flexible.<br />

Since at least 2009, the IRS has made audit findings in 48 states related to<br />

“unauthorized” re-disclosure of FTI beyond the three approved elements for<br />

contractors providing support services to the IV-D program: the name and<br />

address of a parent owing child support and the amount of any federal<br />

income tax refund offset.<br />

For the last 13 years, the IRS has agreed that all these findings and any<br />

requirement of agency corrective action would be held in abeyance<br />

“pending resolution by OCSE and IRS of conflicting interpretations of<br />

federal statutes.” The IRS and OCSE agreed on modernized disclosure

language in 2002, but neither Title IV-D nor the IRC have been amended in<br />

the intervening 21 years. In other words, the conflict has not been resolved.<br />

On February 13, <strong>2023</strong>, for reasons that are not completely clear, the IRS<br />

reversed its position and announced: “Beginning October 1, <strong>2023</strong>, the<br />

Office of Safeguards will no longer hold in abeyance the finding<br />

‘unauthorized disclosure of FTI to the agency's contractors.’” The IRS has<br />

not identified any new security risks that would justify such a monumental<br />

change. This abrupt change, combined with the looming effective date,<br />

jeopardizes delivery of child support services in nearly all states and<br />

territories.<br />

The contractor “fix” has been ably championed in Congress for many years<br />

by the National Tribal Child Support Association (NTCSA) as part of<br />

proposed legislation to expand access to FTI to tribal child support<br />

agencies. The National Council of Child Support Directors (NCCSD) has<br />

been on record in support of the legislation since 2013.<br />

The Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act passed unanimously in the<br />

United States Senate in July 2021 but was not adopted in the House before<br />

the 117 th Congress adjourned on January 3, <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> adopted a resolution in support of tribal access and the contractor<br />

“fix” in August 2001, observing: “[S]ince the inception of the program,<br />

States have utilized a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental<br />

entities to provide child support enforcement services.”<br />

After numerous safeguard and security audits and more than a decade of<br />

nationwide reliance on the IRS position, it is not practical or workable to<br />

expect child support programs with privatized offices or outsourced state<br />

disbursement units to bring those services “in-house” by October 1. State<br />

systems cannot be modernized without private contractors having access<br />

to production data that may include FTI. Yet, states will lose access to FTI<br />

if the IRS findings are not resolved, which could also lead to states being<br />

out of compliance with IV-D requirements.<br />

The new IRS position will result in dire consequences to Title IV-D<br />

programs and the millions of families and children served by these<br />


<strong>NCSEA</strong> will continue to work with NTCSA and NCCSD and our many<br />

private-sector members to expand awareness of this issue and support<br />

legislation that will finally modernize disclosure of FTI for child support<br />

purposes. <strong>NCSEA</strong> encourages all of you to work with your tribal council,<br />

county commission, Governor’s office, and Congressional delegation to<br />

bring awareness to this important issue.<br />

James C. Fleming is the director of the Child Support Section of the North Dakota<br />

Department of Health and Human Services, President of the National Child Support<br />

Enforcement Association (<strong>NCSEA</strong>), member of the Board of Directors for the Western<br />

Intergovernmental Child Support Engagement Council (WICSEC), and former President<br />

of the National Council of Child Support Directors (NCCSD).Jim is a member and<br />

former co-chair of <strong>NCSEA</strong>’s Policy and Government Relations Committee and<br />

NCCSD’s Policy and Practice Committee, and a member of the editorial committee for<br />

the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Child Support CommuniQue. Jim also co-chairs NCCSD’s Employer<br />

Collaboration Committee.<br />

Jim was named the 2022 recipient of the American Payroll Association’s Government<br />

Partner Award. He has also received the 2009 Family Support Council Program<br />

Awareness Award and the 2004 Freedom Award from the North Dakota Newspaper<br />

Association.<br />

A second-generation attorney, Jim earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the<br />

University of North Dakota and his Juris Doctorate from Notre Dame Law School. He<br />

has been an assistant attorney general for North Dakota for 28 years, following a<br />

clerkship with the North Dakota Supreme Court. Jim and his wife Terri are the proud<br />

parents of four daughters and were recently blessed with a perfect granddaughter.

Reflections on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<br />

Efforts in Child Support<br />

by Yiyu Chen, Kristen Harper, and Mindy E. Scott, Child Trends<br />

The <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy Forum has always offered plenty of opportunities to<br />

learn from child support practitioners and program administrators. Each<br />

year the conference seems to outdo itself, and this year was no exception.<br />

Perhaps one of the most thought-provoking sessions of this year’s Forum<br />

was the Inclusive and Equitable Leadership session (held on Friday,<br />

February 3, <strong>2023</strong>) in which child support leaders encouraged participants to<br />

form partnerships and begin the long-term journey toward diversity, equity,<br />

and inclusion (DEI) with incremental steps. They provided guidance to<br />

examine all policies with an equity lens and engage staff at every level in a<br />

collective learning process. Tanguler Gray from the federal Office of Child<br />

Support Enforcement (OCSE) shared OCSE’s vision and suggested<br />

making DEI a culture in which all child support practices are immersed.<br />

What research exists to guide child support agencies in achieving these<br />

important DEI-related goals? Last summer, we studied DEI concepts in<br />

child welfare and special education systems and adapted them to define<br />

DEI for child support. From these other systems, we learned that equity<br />

should be considered not only in the outcomes of a system, but also in the<br />

process that yields the outcomes. In the context of child support context,<br />

this means:<br />

• Supporting the diverse needs of each child, including social and<br />

emotional support, nurturing care, and financial support.<br />

• Ensuring parental responsibility is proportional to parental ability.

• Helping families achieve the previous two outcomes through fair,<br />

unbiased, culturally sensitive policies and practices, including<br />

accommodations to parents with barriers to supporting their children.<br />

While more research and input from those within and affected by the child<br />

support system is necessary to refine this definition, promising efforts that<br />

align with our definition of equity already exist. First, more than half of<br />

states have implemented policies to “pass through” some or all child<br />

support dollars collected to families who have received TANF benefits.<br />

These policies prioritize children’s economic needs and can have broader<br />

implications for parent-child relationships. States have also developed debt<br />

compromise programs and reduced or eliminated interest rates charged to<br />

past-due child support in an effort to limit the burden of child support debt<br />

that does not directly benefit children. These policies can increase child<br />

support payments and slow the growth of debt. State child support<br />

agencies have also partnered with criminal justice agencies to identify<br />

eligibility for child support modifications for parents who will be incarcerated<br />

for an extended period of time. These policies consider “right-size” child<br />

support obligations and how child support services affect child and family<br />

wellbeing.<br />

Second, several federal grant programs help address inequities present in<br />

child support programs or offer additional support to parents who may<br />

interact with child support programs. For example, the Procedural Justice-<br />

Informed Alternatives to Contempt project improves fairness in<br />

enforcement processes to encourage child support compliance and<br />

improve parents’ experiences with child support agencies. The Parenting<br />

Time Opportunities for Children pilot explores how child support agencies<br />

can help parents create safe plans for parenting time during the child<br />

support establishment process. The Safe Access for Victims’ Economic<br />

Security project enhances safety for domestic violence survivors accessing<br />

child support and identifies gaps and recommendations for current policies<br />

and procedures. Responsible Fatherhood programs are designed to<br />

promote parenting, foster economic stability, and support fathers’<br />

relationships, including co-parenting relationships, as strategies to help<br />

fathers overcome systemic barriers to parenting. While research is needed<br />

to understand the effects of these types of programs on key equity<br />

outcomes, the projects have similar equity goals—to lessen the child<br />

support burden, increase parental support, and address barriers to<br />

providing support, while also centering individual circumstances.

With these promising efforts in mind, we conclude with three<br />

recommendations for federal and state child support agencies to further<br />

elevate equity in child support:<br />

• Provide consistent funding for effective programs and address<br />

sustainability issues that many grant-based initiatives face.<br />

• Regularly gather, refine, and analyze demographic and program<br />

implementation data to identify sources of and solutions for inequities.<br />

• Infuse DEI into an agency’s culture by implementing a structure to<br />

incorporate voices from persons with lived experiences, child support<br />

clients, and all staff.<br />

Yiyu Chen, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist at Child Trends. She has spent most of her<br />

career studying how family structure is linked to child poverty and how antipoverty<br />

programs mitigate this relationship. Her recent research centers on child support, food<br />

assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and access barriers in the safety net unique<br />

to Hispanic families.<br />

Kristen Harper, Ed.M., is Vice President for Public Policy and Engagement at Child<br />

Trends. She serves as a strategic advisor working to continuously improve the policy<br />

relevance of Child Trends’ portfolio and connect researchers with local, state, and<br />

federal officials. She is also a nationally recognized expert on education policy,<br />

disparities in education opportunity by race and disability, school discipline policy, and<br />

school health and climate.<br />

Mindy E. Scott, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scholar at Child Trends. She is a<br />

sociologist and family demographer who conducts action-oriented research to improve<br />

the lives of parents, children, and caregivers with diverse identities and experiences.<br />

Her primary research interests relate to family formation, father involvement, and<br />

healthy relationships/marriage research and evaluation.

Shaping the Future of Child Support<br />

with a Comprehensive Proposal to<br />

Congress: Part I<br />

by Diane Potts and Robert Williams<br />

The last broad far-reaching body of law for the child support program<br />

was the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation<br />

Act (PWRORA) more than 25 years ago. Recognizing the substantial<br />

changes that have occurred since the passage of PWRORA in 1996,<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> has taken the initiative to draft a comprehensive package of<br />

legislative initiatives intended to shape the future of the child support<br />

program. The Policy and Government Relations Committee (PGR)<br />

led the work, which focused on five areas: assistance recovery,<br />

performance measures, enforcement, funding, and intergovernmental<br />

cases.<br />

On February 1, <strong>2023</strong>, <strong>NCSEA</strong>’s Board of Directors voted to approve<br />

the legislative package. The Board, however, decided to postpone<br />

advancing the legislation until it determines appropriate sponsors,<br />

and that the package would be well-received and not detrimental to<br />

the child support program in any respect.<br />

This article captures two of the major changes—assistance recovery<br />

and intergovernmental case processing. A second article in the next<br />

<strong>CSQ</strong> issue, Part II, will explain the other proposed changes around<br />

performance measures and enforcement. The funding piece of the<br />

legislative package will be interwoven throughout Parts I and II where<br />

relevant. Together <strong>NCSEA</strong> believes these changes will modernize the<br />

child support program and benefit the families that it serves.

I. Child Support for Families to Increase Self-Sufficiency<br />

The role of the Title IV-D program in recovering public assistance has<br />

changed dramatically, thereby justifying a reexamination of both<br />

current and former assistance recoupment policies and practices.<br />

When PRWORA was enacted, Aid to Families with Dependent<br />

Children (AFDC) benefits paid to families were more than twice child<br />

support collections paid to families. However, benefits under the<br />

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, which<br />

replaced AFDC, have dropped sharply in the years after PRWORA.<br />

At the same time, child support collections have increased<br />

dramatically, mostly due to the new and powerful tools that PRWORA<br />

provided for child support enforcement. As a result, child support<br />

payments to families exceeded TANF payments to families as early<br />

as 1999, and the gap became steadily larger in the intervening years.<br />

The table below, which compares TANF Family Case Benefits versus<br />

Child Support Family Distributions between 1994 and 2022, illustrates<br />

this fundamental change in the program.<br />

In FFY 2021, families received more than four times the amount of<br />

child support than TANF cash assistance benefits. <strong>NCSEA</strong><br />

understands that child support, more than ever today, plays a<br />

substantial role in the safety net for single-parent families. While<br />

TANF is important for employment, training, and other critical<br />

services, its role in providing cash support is now far surpassed by<br />

cash support distributed by the child support program.

Moreover, with the sharp decline in TANF benefits, the program’s role<br />

in recovery of TANF benefits has also sharply declined. In 1996, 22<br />

percent of child support collections were retained to reimburse<br />

payment of AFDC benefits. In 2021, that percentage retained to<br />

reimburse payment of TANF benefits dropped to just 5 percent,<br />

meaning that 95 percent of the program’s collections are now paid<br />

directly to families, as demonstrated in the table below.<br />

Retained Child Support Collections as a Proportion of Total<br />

Collections<br />

Even though the child support recovery role has dropped<br />

dramatically, the program is important and interrelated with other<br />

safety net programs. There are significant savings that come from<br />

reduced participation in TANF, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance<br />

Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program<br />

(CHIP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and public/subsidized<br />

housing due to receipt of child support payments. Income from child<br />

support makes some single parents self-sufficient and ineligible for<br />

these government benefits. Regular child support may make some<br />

parents decide voluntarily not to apply. Cost avoidance also comes<br />

from reduced benefits in SNAP, SSI, and housing vouchers because<br />

child support is counted as income for those programs.<br />

The steep decline in the role of TANF recovery to the child support<br />

program combined with the significant increase and importance in the<br />

role of family support recovery has led <strong>NCSEA</strong> to reexamine<br />

assistance recovery. For several reasons, <strong>NCSEA</strong> believes that

ecovery no longer makes sense for both current and former TANF<br />

cases for several reasons.<br />

First, safety net programs generally are not funded by program<br />

participants. TANF benefits are not recouped from a recipient’s<br />

subsequent earnings, nor are benefits from programs such as SNAP<br />

or Medicaid subject to recoupment from subsequent earnings or child<br />

support. The current recovery model essentially takes money from<br />

the most fragile families to run government programs, which to<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> is no longer appropriate public policy.<br />

Second, ending the retention of child support collections would<br />

improve the self-sufficiency of current and former TANF recipients—a<br />

result worth pursuing. Research in Colorado on passing through child<br />

support payments to current TANF recipients resulted in a 10.2<br />

percent increase in child support paid, as both parents came to<br />

understand that all such payments would be distributed directly to the<br />

families. The amount of such payments also increased by 39.4<br />

percent. i With TANF benefits being temporary by definition,<br />

establishing a pattern of child support payments while receiving<br />

assistance increases the likelihood that the family will become selfsufficient<br />

after leaving.<br />

Third, eliminating recoupments from former TANF cases would also<br />

improve the perceived fairness of the program. Both parents are<br />

resentful when child support payments intended for the family are<br />

diverted to federal and state governments to repay TANF costs—a<br />

result that haunts the reputation of the child support program and<br />

may be one cause of the declining caseloads experienced by almost<br />

all states and territories.<br />

Finally, changing the practice of retaining support in current and<br />

former TANF cases would greatly simplify administration of the child<br />

support program and reduce administrative costs. It would end the<br />

convoluted, overly complex, and costly distribution process (i.e., the<br />

“buckets”) that weigh down the current program. It would substantially<br />

reduce both systems development and ongoing operations costs—an<br />

important consideration given the tightening of state budgets across<br />

the country.

While there is wide agreement in the child support program on the<br />

desirability of ending recoupment of TANF expenditures from former<br />

TANF families, doing so without funding changes would potentially<br />

cause significant damage to the child support program. While<br />

recoupments from former TANF families constitute only 3 percent of<br />

total IV-D child support collections, the state share of these<br />

collections nonetheless represents 13 percent of the state share of<br />

total IV-D administrative costs. ii<br />

Most states use most or all of retained support in former TANF cases<br />

to fund part of their IV-D program. As a result, the loss of funding<br />

from retained support in former TANF cases would, in the absence of<br />

state backfill, reduce the resources available to operate the program<br />

by as much as 13 percent.<br />

Similarly, the state share of retained support in current TANF cases<br />

represents slightly more than 7 percent of the state share of<br />

administrative costs for the IV-D program. Loss of that funding source<br />

would also significantly damage program operations and the<br />

important services provided to families.<br />

To avoid the impact of such a large loss of funds, <strong>NCSEA</strong>’s<br />

recommendation to end assignment and retention of child support<br />

collections is conditioned on additional federal funding to backfill the<br />

resulting loss to state revenues. <strong>NCSEA</strong> proposes that this funding<br />

be provided by tripling the incentive pool.<br />

In the alternative, <strong>NCSEA</strong> proposes allowing an administrative match<br />

or federal financial participation (FFP) on incentive fund expenditures.<br />

For example, a state with $10 million in incentives could use those<br />

funds to claim the 66 percent administrative match, which would<br />

increase available resources to $29.4 million. Prior to 2005, states<br />

were permitted to match incentive funds with administrative funds, but<br />

this policy was ended by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.<br />

Either restoring the administrative match for incentives or tripling the<br />

size of the incentive pool would replace most state funds that are lost<br />

from eliminating recoupments from former TANF cases and<br />

eliminating retained collections for current TANF cases. As of FFY<br />

2019, potential lost state funding from eliminating recoupments from

former TANF cases would have been $824.7 million (former TANF<br />

retained collections + 66 percent FFP). Lost state funding for<br />

eliminating retained collections for current TANF cases would be<br />

$533,799,943 ($181,491,981 + 66 percent FFP).<br />

Restoring the administrative match for incentive payments would<br />

have resulted in $1.141 billion in new program funding. (Alternatively,<br />

tripling the incentive pool would have resulted in $1.176 in new<br />

program funding). Thus, tripling the incentive pool would have<br />

replaced 87 percent of the state revenue loss from elimination of<br />

former TANF recoupments and current TANF retained collections in<br />

FFY 2019. This is indicative of the impact of legislation that would<br />

end retained collections and triple the incentive pool. In addition to<br />

replacing lost state funds due to this policy change, increasing the<br />

incentive pool would also significantly reinforce the performance<br />

orientation of the program.<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> believes that the child support program would benefit greatly<br />

from eliminating cost recovery. To avoid the potential for harm to<br />

program administration and the families it serves that would result<br />

from these policy changes, however, <strong>NCSEA</strong> proposes restoring the<br />

match or tripling the incentive pool.<br />

II.<br />

Improved Intergovernmental Case Processing to Benefit<br />

Families with Parents in Different States<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> understands that intergovernmental child support cases are<br />

inherently complex because multiple states are involved. There were<br />

just over 833,000 cases between states in FY 2021, totaling<br />

approximately $1.5 billion dollars in child support collections. iii<br />

Interstate collections represent 7 percent of the total child support<br />

caseload and 5 percent of total collections. This understates the<br />

number of cases involved in intergovernmental child support actions,<br />

however, because it does not count cases living in different states<br />

that are enforced directly, without the involvement of the state where<br />

the other parent lives.<br />

The mandatory Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) for<br />

states, as well as federal regulations, have helped standardize<br />

intergovernmental case processing and provide legal parameters for

establishing, enforcing, and modifying child support orders in these<br />

cases. But more is needed. States continue to focus more on<br />

intrastate cases to the detriment of families with parents living in<br />

different states.<br />

The parts of the legislative package for interstate cases are designed<br />

to streamline communication processes and standardize aspects of<br />

the program. The proposals include mandating that every state's<br />

unemployment agency honor interstate income withholding orders,<br />

imposing timelines for updating arrears balances, and forming agency<br />

workgroups to study interstate communication technologies and<br />

payment processing.<br />

A. Mandating Compliance with Interstate Income Withholding<br />

Orders by Unemployment Agencies<br />

To be comprehensive and uniform, every state should have laws that<br />

require its unemployment agency to honor an income withholding<br />

order issued by another state. UIFSA mandates that employers<br />

comply with income withholding orders issued by any state and to<br />

treat that order as if it were issued by a tribunal in the employer’s<br />

state. In stark contrast, many state unemployment insurance<br />

agencies refuse to honor an income withholding order issued by<br />

another state—even border states where parents frequently<br />

interchange where they work and live.<br />

This lack of uniformity creates disparate results for families when the<br />

parent paying support becomes unemployed and receives<br />

unemployment income that may or may not be subject to withholding<br />

for child support based solely on the parent’s state of residence. This<br />

issue became more evident during the pandemic when<br />

unemployment benefits were greatly expanded, but child support<br />

agencies had difficulty accessing them if the noncustodial parent lived<br />

in a different state. Mandating this requirement would improve<br />

collections from unemployment agencies, which is especially<br />

important during times of economic downturn.

B. Financial Updates Mandate<br />

One of the most significant barriers to intergovernmental case<br />

processing is for the enforcing state to know the exact amount of past<br />

due support from the state that issued the order. The issuing state’s<br />

order often contains provisions, such as interest accrual, that is<br />

different from the law in the state enforcing the order. In this instance,<br />

the enforcing state is especially reliant on the issuing state to<br />

calculate the amount of support owed, including interest. Delays in<br />

providing this information may result in delayed enforcement or<br />

inaccurate arrears balances—to the detriment of both parents and the<br />

enforcing state’s program and reputation.<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> recommends legislation to mandate the frequency for states<br />

to provide updated financial data and mandate the response time to<br />

requests for arrears and interest. This will help alleviate confusion in<br />

enforcement and incorrect arrears balances to the benefit of the<br />

program and the intergovernmental families it serves.<br />

C. Employer Reporting to the National Directory of New Hires<br />

Employers are required to report all new employees to the State<br />

Directory of New Hires (SDNH). Multi-state employers, however, are<br />

permitted to select one state in which the employer does business to<br />

report all new employees. States have implemented the reporting<br />

requirements differently, causing confusion, and efforts by employers<br />

to research and report to the state that—regardless of the number of<br />

employees—has the least onerous requirements. In addition, many<br />

employers have expressed a desire to report to one national<br />

database rather than self-select a state database.<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong> recommends legislation that will enable multi-state<br />

employers to report directly to the National Directory of New Hires<br />

(NDNH) administered by the federal Office of Child Support<br />

Enforcement in order to expedite the sharing of the new hire<br />

information to all other states. This will streamline the process and<br />

accelerate the receipt of support to families that rely on it.

D. Workgroups to Study Complex Intergovernmental Issues<br />

One of the most complicated issues in intergovernmental case<br />

processing arises when parties move to different states from each<br />

other and both of their residential states are different from the state<br />

that originally issued the child support order, thereby creating a threestate<br />

case. <strong>NCSEA</strong> recommends that OCSE create a workgroup with<br />

the goal of streamlining the interstate payment process in these<br />

complicated three-state cases, even though that might require<br />

revising existing language in UIFSA.<br />

In addition, OCSE has required or developed several automated<br />

mechanisms to facilitate communication and information sharing<br />

across state lines. States have various levels of implementation of<br />

these mechanisms, with wide variation across the country. OCSE has<br />

made significant strides in implementing technologies to facilitate<br />

interstate communication, including the sharing of arrears balances,<br />

among the states. However, when there are states that do not fully<br />

implement all available modalities, the usefulness of the technology is<br />

diminished or non-existent. <strong>NCSEA</strong> recommends that Congress<br />

mandate the formation of a task force requiring OCSE to evaluate<br />

and align federal technology solutions for state implementation that<br />

would benefit the intergovernmental caseload with improved<br />

efficiency and effectiveness.<br />

III.<br />

Conclusion<br />

Change is not easy—especially change to a program’s long-standing<br />

policies and practices. Nevertheless, the child support program today<br />

looks much different than at its inception in 1975 or when PWRORA<br />

was enacted in 1996. For intergovernmental cases, our families are<br />

ever increasingly mobile, and there are policies and technologies that<br />

could be implemented today that will help states get financial support<br />

faster and more efficiently to those families.<br />

For cost recovery, the program today no longer focuses on “paying<br />

back” the government for assistance during hard times; instead, the<br />

child support program’s core value is about helping families move<br />

toward and maintain self-sufficiency. And this cash support to families<br />

from child support comes without direct cost to taxpayers—it comes

only with indirect costs of child support program administration that<br />

has been essentially flat over the past five years. Child support<br />

provides economic and medical support for children by enforcing the<br />

bedrock value of personal responsibility. This major role in the safety<br />

net for single-parent families warrants expanded financial support<br />

necessary to eliminate cost recovery from the program for once and<br />

for all.<br />

Diane Potts is the Child Support Lead Director on the National Strategy Team at<br />

CGI Technologies and Solutions Inc. Diane serves on the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Board of<br />

Directors and is co-chair of <strong>NCSEA</strong>’s Policy and Government Relations<br />

Committee as well as an <strong>NCSEA</strong> Past-President, past Secretary, and an<br />

Honorary Lifetime Member. Diane also is on the Board of Directors for the<br />

Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support Association and is chair of its<br />

Intergovernmental Improvement Committee.<br />

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

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

amendment of the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) on <strong>NCSEA</strong>’s behalf, and<br />

currently sits on the UPA’s Enactment Committee. In 2015, she received the<br />

Illinois Child Support Lifetime Achievement Award. Diane received her law<br />

degree from Washington University Law School and her undergraduate degree<br />

from University of Illinois.<br />

Bob Williams has worked in child support at the national level for 40 years. He is<br />

President and Founder of Veritas HHS, which operates contracted IV-D agencies<br />

in three states and voluntary paternity acknowledgment programs in two states.<br />

Bob was formerly founder and CEO of Policy Studies Inc. where he developed<br />

the income shares model for child support guidelines and managed child support<br />

research, consulting, and operations projects. He is a member of <strong>NCSEA</strong>’s<br />

Policy and Government Relations Committee. Bob earned his B.A. from<br />

University of Illinois at Chicago, and his M.P.A. and Ph.D. degrees from<br />

Princeton University.<br />

i<br />

Tom Zolot, Pass-Through: Direct Support for Children, Final Presentation, Research Report to<br />

Colorado Department of Human Services, June 2020.<br />

ii<br />

Office of Child Support Enforcement, Preliminary Report FY 2021, Tables P-1, P-45, P-15, and<br />

P-12. The State share of administrative costs is $2,379,015,145. The State share of TANF<br />

reimbursements (net of foster care) is $478,775,977. Approximately 35.3 percent of TANF<br />

reimbursements are for retained collections from current TANF recipients. Approximately 64.6<br />

percent are for recoupments from former TANF recipients.<br />

iii<br />

Office of Child Support Enforcement, Preliminary Report FY 2021, Tables P-34 and P-35.

Breaking Barriers, Building Relationships: Lessons<br />

Learned from Ohio and Virginia on the Value of<br />

Working with Parents<br />

By Veronica Riley, Assistant Director for the San Joaquin County<br />

Department of Child Support Services<br />

When received consistently, child support can have meaningful impacts on<br />

families. So, how do we promote consistent payments? Lessons learned<br />

from Ohio and Virginia during their work on the Procedural Justice-<br />

Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) grant demonstrate that the first<br />

step is building relationships with families to remove barriers to payment.<br />

Child support accounts for 39% of the income received by poor single<br />

mothers, and it reduces their poverty rate by 25% i . It nearly doubles the<br />

income of recipients below the poverty line ii and lifted almost 750,000<br />

people out of poverty in 2021. Most of these children would have been<br />

considered in “deep poverty” if not for child support.

Child support can lessen dependence on public assistance iii . There was a<br />

9% decrease in welfare participation after improvements were made to the<br />

program in the 1990s.<br />

Children receiving child support show academic and cognitive benefits iv like<br />

higher grades and test scores. These children have an increased likelihood<br />

to finish high school, attend college, and have less contact with the juvenile<br />

justice system.<br />

Parents who pay child support are more likely to spend time with their<br />

children v , increasing father-child contact by an average of 27 days per<br />

year.<br />

There are also increased<br />

benefits to single<br />

mothers vi . Single<br />

mothers are 6% less<br />

likely to cohabitate with<br />

non-married partners<br />

due to economic<br />

independence, and are<br />

likely to obtain higher<br />

levels of education. One<br />

study found that for<br />

every dollar of child<br />

support received, the<br />

incomes of custodial<br />

mothers increased by<br />

two dollars.<br />

Households receiving child support have decreased child maltreatment and<br />

neglect vii . Mothers who received support were 10% less likely to have a<br />

maltreatment incident than mothers who did not. Child neglect and<br />

subsequent entry into the foster care system are overwhelmingly due to<br />

issues of family poverty.<br />

Given the positive impact that child support can have on families, it is<br />

imperative that we examine strategies to promote consistent payment. The<br />

PJAC work in Virginia and Ohio found that success starts with<br />

relationships. And the foundation of any good relationship is trust.

It is not surprising to most child support professionals that people do not<br />

trust the program. Why is that? Historical evidence suggests that the<br />

practice of welfare recoupment has a disparate impact on low-income<br />

parties and people of color. It also raises concerns about fairness. Some of<br />

the harsher enforcement actions like contempt hearings, driver’s license<br />

suspension, and bank account seizures, including associated fees, seem<br />

counterintuitive to paying parents. Many argue that if people would just pay<br />

their support, then no one would be on the receiving end of necessary<br />

enforcement actions. While this is true, it is worth examining why people do<br />

not pay their support. Research from federal grants and researchers like<br />

Kathryn Edin viii has identified that most people do want to support their<br />

children; however, they have significant barriers to doing so.<br />

Common barriers are:<br />

• Custody/visitation issues<br />

• High arrearages<br />

• Homelessness<br />

• Incarceration<br />

• Institutional racism/discrimination<br />

• Lack of job skills<br />

• Mental health struggles<br />

• Multiple child support obligations<br />

• Other family obligations, such as caring for an aging parent<br />

• Perception of unfair treatment<br />

• Poverty<br />

• Substance abuse<br />

• Transportation<br />

• Unemployment/underemployment<br />

• Unrealistic child support orders<br />

Ohio and Virginia have worked on strategies to build trust, form positive<br />

relationships, and remove barriers to payment after lessons learned from<br />

their work with the PJAC grant. The grant was awarded to five programs,<br />

and we examine the experience of two in this article. Even after the grant<br />

funding ended, Ohio and Virginia have been able to incorporate the<br />

elements of procedural justice into their office cultures.

The five principles of procedural justice ix are:<br />

• Helpfulness- Individuals perceive that people in the system have an<br />

interest in them and have trustworthy motives<br />

• Understanding- Individuals understand their rights and obligations<br />

and the deliberations and decisions made about them<br />

• Respect- Individuals are treated with dignity and respect<br />

• Voice- Individuals participate in the process and tell their sides<br />

• Neutrality- Individuals perceive decision-makers as unbiased<br />

It is important to apply these principles to both parents owing support and<br />

those owed support to establish a foundation of trust. But how?<br />

Virginia is committed to training all staff in the principles of procedural<br />

justice. Per Barbara Lacina, Virginia’s IV-D Director, this reinforces the<br />

practice within their office culture. They have also committed to reviewing<br />

their business processes, including related forms, to ensure that they are<br />

consistent with procedural justice practices.<br />

One of the major takeaways from the PJAC grant was to apply the<br />

procedural justice model to the existing Family Engagement Services team.<br />

According to the team’s Manager, Gregory Harrison, this unit is a

centralized group of caseworkers dedicated to intervention to avoid<br />

contempt proceedings. In cases where all enforcement actions have not<br />

resulted in order compliance, and/or where participants have been<br />

identified as having a barrier to making payments, they are referred to the<br />

specialized caseload.<br />

The Family Engagement Services caseworker contacts both parties to<br />

assess the situation and identify barriers to compliance. The caseworker<br />

develops an individualized case plan in consultation with the parent(s).<br />

Plan activities range from participation in job training programs and<br />

transportation assistance to referrals for custody and visitation access.<br />

Milestones and dates are a critical part of the plan. Throughout this process<br />

it is important that the customers feel respected, have their voices heard,<br />

understand their rights and responsibilities, feel that the process is fair, and<br />

perceive that the caseworker wants them to be successful.<br />

One of the creative components of<br />

Virginia’s case plans is incorporating a<br />

Temporary Assistance for Needy<br />

Families (TANF) debt compromise<br />

program. After achieving certain<br />

milestones, participants are rewarded<br />

with a reduction of their TANF debt. For<br />

instance, individuals earn a 5%<br />

reduction of debt for achieving two case<br />

plan activities, and another 5%<br />

reduction for making three consecutive<br />

payments in 90 days, etc. Participants<br />

can have up to 20% of their debt<br />

waived and an additional dollar-fordollar<br />

reduction applied to lump sum<br />

payments.<br />

In Ohio, they are committed to the<br />

concept of the new order worker. This<br />

person contacts the parties upon order<br />

Family Engagement Services outreach example from<br />

Virginia<br />

establishment. They explain the order, next steps, rights and<br />

responsibilities, and answer questions. They identify any barriers to

payment and work with the parties to seek a resolution and make a realistic<br />

implementation plan. Not only that, but they have programs in place to help<br />

with employment, substance abuse, and referrals for other supportive<br />

services. As Ohio’s Ann Durkin, PJAC coordinator for Stark County,<br />

explains, "They are the experts in their own lives. Not us.” She believes it is<br />

imperative that we treat participants as real, complex people and not just<br />

data on a chart.<br />

Common to both Ohio and Virginia’s strategies for eliminating barriers is<br />

the concept of the “warm hand-off." They have resources available to refer<br />

parties for assistance with food, housing, transportation, custody, and the<br />

like. They are also customizing services to the parties after truly listening to<br />

their individualized needs. In many cases, this results in the worker<br />

facilitating a discussion between the parties to come to a consensus.<br />

Oftentimes, parties agree that the amount of payment is not as important<br />

as the consistency of the assistance to the child. Sometimes, this even<br />

appears as an agreement to help in non-monetary ways, like transportation<br />

to school and sporting activities. Ms. Durkin relayed a story about working<br />

with both parents when it was identified that the noncustodial parent was<br />

temporarily unable to work due to injury. The custodial party did not know<br />

that this was the case and agreed to modify the order. They agreed that the<br />

noncustodial parent would help with the child in other ways until he was<br />

able to work again. Both parties felt heard and ultimately satisfied with the<br />

agreement and supported by the caseworker.<br />

An example of applying the principles of PJAC to everyday casework was<br />

relayed by Michelle Franco, the PJAC coordinator from Virginia. The Family<br />

Engagement caseworker reached out to Stacy, a non-custodial parent who<br />

was recently released from jail. The caseworker quickly identified that<br />

Stacy was concerned about making it to her first appointment with her<br />

probation officer as if she failed to appear, she would be returned to<br />

incarceration for a violation of probation. Stacy had no reliable<br />

transportation and was concerned that she would not be able to appear.<br />

The caseworker provided her with several transportation options (friends,<br />

family, bus passes, etc.). Even though Stacy had a rebuttal for every option<br />

provided, the caseworker persisted in providing options and stressed the<br />

importance of finding a solution to avoid being returned to incarceration.<br />

The caseworker followed up with Stacy several times to remind her of her

options and help her formulate a transportation plan. To the caseworker’s<br />

delight, Stacy called to let her know that she did indeed find transportation<br />

per their plan and attended the appointment with her probation officer. The<br />

caseworker helping Stacy succeed in this singular task made a huge<br />

difference in Stacy’s life. She helped her get on track. Their next case plan<br />

activity is to help her find employment and begin payment. Stacy felt heard<br />

and cared about in this interaction with the child support program. While the<br />

immediate result was not a child support payment, it did lead to a customer<br />

gaining trust and a willingness to engage with the office. Building trust and<br />

relationships matter, however small the progress may be. That is one of the<br />

lessons learned by both Virginia and Ohio during the PJAC grant. Progress<br />

takes time, but it is worth putting in the effort to build a culture based on<br />

helpfulness, understanding, respect, voice, and neutrality.<br />

While trust and relationships take time to build, staff in the programs feel<br />

they are making great strides as they have seen parties more willing to<br />

reach out to the offices, participate and engage in conversations about<br />

barriers, identify needs, and commit to case plans. They feel they are<br />

making better connections and improving the programs' standing with<br />

customers in their communities. While it will take time, the results will pay<br />

off in the end. Both programs are committed to reviewing all business<br />

processes and intersections with customers through a procedural justice<br />

lens. The philosophy of the culture change promoted in both programs is<br />

well summarized by Virginia’s Michelle Franco, who says above all, “be an<br />

ally, not an adversary.”<br />

Veronica Riley is the Immediate Past President of the Western Intergovernmental Child<br />

Support Engagement Council (WICSEC). She serves on the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Communications<br />

committee and On Location Podcast subcommittee.<br />

Veronica has over 20 years of experience in California child support and has worked in<br />

various capacities in the county, state, and private sectors. She is currently the<br />

Assistant Director for the San Joaquin County Department of Child Support Services.<br />

She holds a B.A. in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration degree.<br />

i<br />

“The Child Support Program is a Good Investment”, Administration for Children and Families Report, December<br />

2016 https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/sbtn_csp_is_a_good_investment.pdf<br />

ii<br />

2021 National Infographic- More Money for Families, Administration for Children and Families<br />


iii<br />

“The Child Support Program is a Good Investment”, Administration for Children and Families Report, December<br />

2016 https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/sbtn_csp_is_a_good_investment.pdf<br />

iv<br />

The Child Support Program is a Good Investment”, Administration for Children and Families Report, December<br />

2016 https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/sbtn_csp_is_a_good_investment.pdf<br />

v<br />

The Child Support Program is a Good Investment”, Administration for Children and Families Report, December<br />

2016 https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/sbtn_csp_is_a_good_investment.pdf<br />

vi<br />

“Testing the Economic Independence Hypothesis: The Effect of an Exogenous Increase in Child Support on<br />

Subsequent Marriage and Cohabitation” Demography, <strong>April</strong> 12, 2014,<br />

https://read.dukeupress.edu/demography/article/51/3/857/169452/Testing-the-Economic-Independence-<br />

Hypothesis-The<br />

vii<br />

“Poverty and Child Neglect: How Did We Get It Wrong?” National Conference of State Legislatures, February 21,<br />

<strong>2023</strong> https://www.ncsl.org/state-legislatures-news/details/poverty-and-child-neglect-how-did-we-get-it-wrong<br />

viii<br />

“Taking Care of Mine: Can Child Support Become a Family-Building Institution?” Journey of Family Theory and<br />

Review, March 5, 2019, Taking Care of Mine: Can Child Support Become a Family‐Building Institution? - Edin - 2019<br />

- Journal of Family Theory &amp; Review - Wiley Online Library<br />

ix<br />

“A New Response to Child Support Compliance- Introducing the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to<br />

Contempt Project” MDRC, June 2019, https://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/PJAC_Study%20Brief_2019.pdf

Family-First Distribution of Federal Tax Refund Offset<br />

Collections: Why DRA Distribution is Key<br />

by Elizabeth Morgan, Child Support Industry Director for Public<br />

Knowledge ®<br />

Since the passage of welfare reform more than 25 years ago, the child<br />

support program has been shifting its focus from cost recovery for cash<br />

assistance programs to a modern perspective of supporting the entire<br />

family. That shift is reflected, in part, through new family-first distribution<br />

policies and employment programs for the paying parent. While many of<br />

these new policies have resulted in more support flowing directly to<br />

families, the COVID pandemic brought to light one particular issue with<br />

current distribution options.<br />

In March 2020, when the full impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were just<br />

beginning to be realized, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and<br />

Economic Security (CARES) Act, which authorized advance tax credits, or<br />

CARES Act relief payments, to households. i The CARES Act provided<br />

eligible individuals with relief payments of $1,200, or $2,400 for married<br />

couples filing a joint return.<br />

While the CARES Act exempted these payments from offset against certain<br />

debts owed to the government, Congress did not exempt child support<br />

debts. As a result, federal law required state child support programs to<br />

intercept these CARES Act payments through the Federal Tax Refund<br />

Offset (FTRO) program; these collections were subject to the federal child<br />

support distribution rules for FTRO collections, and states did not have the<br />

option to suspend the offsets when cases met the FTRO criteria under<br />

Section 464 of the Social Security Act.<br />

On <strong>April</strong> 21, 2020, the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Board of Directors passed a resolution<br />

urging Congress to exclude child support debt from offset for any future<br />

COVID relief payments. Subsequent federal legislation authorizing

additional COVID economic relief did exempt past-due child support from<br />

collection through federal offset. However, due to the lack of an exemption<br />

in the CARES Act, states collected a record $4.8 billion in child support<br />

through the FTRO program in FFY 2020, three times the typical annual<br />

FTRO collections from prior years.<br />

In FY 2020, all but six of the 54 states and territories had elected to<br />

distribute FTRO collections according to the distribution rules in effect prior<br />

to the enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005. ii This meant<br />

that a large proportion of $4.8 billion in CARES Act payments intercepted<br />

by the FTRO program were distributed first to assigned arrearages before<br />

any collections were distributed to families. State and federal governments<br />

retained those payments and applied them to assigned arrearages.<br />

Because so much of the CARES Act financial relief intended for families<br />

was retained by the government, many states have begun to reconsider<br />

their child support distribution policies. The impact of the interception and<br />

retention of CARES Act payments was antithetical to the new family-first<br />

focus of the child support program, and state programs wanted to change<br />

how child support distribution impacted families.<br />

This article will discuss the history of the distribution rules around FTRO<br />

collections, the impact of distribution policy choices on families served by<br />

the child support program, and issues around FTRO collections and joint<br />

tax returns in those states electing to implement family-first distribution of<br />

FTRO collections.<br />

Legislative History of FTRO: From AFDC to PRWORA to DRA<br />

In 1981, Congress authorized the collection of past-due child support<br />

through the FTRO program. iii At that time, the FTRO collection remedy was<br />

only authorized for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) cases,<br />

and amounts collected could only be distributed to assigned arrearages. In<br />

1984, Congress authorized the use of the FTRO program to collect pastdue<br />

support in non-assistance and former-assistance cases. iv However, the<br />

rules for FTRO collections continued to prioritize distribution to assigned<br />

arrearages first, before paying any arrearages owed to the family. v<br />

To begin shifting the distribution of collections to prioritize families first,<br />

Congress has modified the extent to which states may assign arrearages

and has given states options to disburse more collections applied to<br />

assigned support directly to families.<br />

Prior to the creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families<br />

(TANF) program in 1997, public assistance was administered under the<br />

AFDC program vi,vii and all child support owed to the family prior to and<br />

during the assistance period was assigned to the state, up to the amount of<br />

assistance paid to the family.<br />

With the passage of welfare reform under the 1996 Personal Responsibility<br />

and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), the assignment of<br />

child support under the new TANF assistance program changed. Under<br />

PRWORA, families temporarily assigned any child support owed to them<br />

prior to the assistance period, and permanently assigned only those<br />

arrearages that accrued during the assistance period. viii While the family<br />

received assistance, the state could retain collections applied to temporarily<br />

assigned arrearages. After the family left assistance, the temporarily<br />

assigned arrearages became conditionally assigned and the state could<br />

only retain collections applied to these arrearages if paid through a FTRO<br />

collection. ix Any other form of collection applied to these arrearages would<br />

be disbursed to the family.<br />

This new type of assignment and associated distribution rules were difficult<br />

for states to implement and explain to the public. They also didn’t go far<br />

enough to advance the move to a family-first policy. In 2005, Congress<br />

simplified the assignment under the DRA when it eliminated the<br />

assignment of any pre-assistance arrearages. Under the DRA, only those<br />

arrearages that accrue during the assistance period are assigned to the<br />

government. x<br />

In addition to this change in the assignment, Congress also provided states<br />

with the option to distribute FTRO collections in former assistance cases in<br />

the same way as any other collection: first to current support, second to<br />

family arrearages, and third to assigned arrearages. xi This allowed states<br />

the option to prioritize family-owned debt ahead of government-owned debt<br />

to help facilitate self-sufficiency when the family left assistance.

FTRO Collections: PRWORA vs. DRA Distribution<br />

When distributing FTRO collections in PRWORA distribution states, the<br />

distribution hierarchy requires states to apply the collection to assigned<br />

arrearages first, then to family arrearages, and never to current support:<br />

1. Permanently-assigned arrearages or conditionally-assigned<br />

arrearages in any order the state chooses (all collections applied<br />

to these buckets are retained by the state)<br />

2. Never-assigned arrearages (all collections are disbursed to the<br />

family)<br />

Figure 1: Summary of PRWORA Distribution<br />

Order<br />

Payment Type:<br />

Non-FTRO<br />

Disbursed/<br />

Retained<br />

Payment Type:<br />

FTRO<br />

Disbursed/<br />

Retained<br />

1 Current support Family Assigned State<br />

2 Never-assigned Family Never-assigned Family<br />

3 Conditionally-assigned Family<br />

4 Permanently-assigned State<br />

For DRA distribution states, the distribution hierarchy for all collections is<br />

the same, including FTRO collections—the only difference is that the<br />

application of a FTRO collection to conditionally-assigned arrearages will<br />

determine whether the government or the family ultimately receives that<br />

portion of the collection:<br />

1. Current support (disbursed to family)<br />

2. Family arrearages: includes all never-assigned and conditionallyassigned<br />

arrearages if the collection is a non-FTRO collection<br />

(disbursed to the family)<br />

3. Assigned arrearages: includes conditionally-assigned arrearages,<br />

if the collection is a FTRO collection, and permanently-assigned<br />

arrearages (retained by the state)

Figure 2: Summary of DRA Distribution<br />

Order<br />

Payment Type:<br />

Non-FTRO<br />

Disbursed/<br />

Retained<br />

Payment Type:<br />

FTRO<br />

Disbursed/<br />

Retained<br />

1 Current support Family Current support Family<br />

2 Family-owned xii Family Family-owned Family<br />

3 State-owned State State-owned xiii State<br />

Example: PRWORA vs. DRA Distribution of a CARES Act<br />

Payment<br />

By way of example, let’s examine a scenario that could have occurred at<br />

the time the FTRO program intercepted the CARES Act payments in 2020.<br />

A family lives in Washington State with three children. The family has been<br />

periodically receiving TANF benefits and has $1,500 in assigned<br />

arrearages and $1,000 in family-owned arrearages. Current support under<br />

the order is $450 per month. In 2020, the family was not receiving TANF<br />

assistance.<br />

Assume that the parent who pays support was expecting a CARES Act<br />

payment of $1,200. Because Washington State is a PRWORA distribution<br />

state, the state would have applied the CARES Act payment first to the<br />

$1,500 in assigned arrearages. The paying parent would not receive any<br />

portion of the payment, and the family would not receive any portion either<br />

through a PRWORA collection or directly from the paying parent.<br />

Figure 3: PRWORA Distribution of a $1,200 CARES Act Payment<br />

Current Assigned Family-Owned<br />

Beginning Month Balances 450 1,500 1,000<br />

$1,200 FTRO Application 1,200<br />

End of Month Balances 450 300 1,000<br />

Now let’s assume that the family lives in Alaska, where DRA distribution is<br />

in effect. In this case, the state would distribute the FTRO collection of the<br />

paying parent’s CARES Act payment first to current support of $450 and

then apply the balance to the family’s arrearages, reducing them by $750.<br />

In other words, the family would receive the entire CARES Act payment.<br />

Figure 4: DRA Distribution of a $1,200 CARES Act Payment<br />

Current Assigned Family-Owned<br />

Beginning Month Balances 450 1,500 1,000<br />

$1,200 FTRO Application 450 750<br />

End of Month Balances 0 1,500 250<br />

Policy Dilemma: DRA Distribution and Tax Offsets Held for Six<br />

Months<br />

The states currently implementing DRA distribution have different<br />

approaches to allocating FTRO collections that are held for up to six<br />

months when a spouse has filed an injured spouse claim. xiv No current<br />

federal guidance exists for these situations, especially with respect to what<br />

month the FTRO collection should be distributed to current support and<br />

when it should be disbursed. Of seven jurisdictions employing DRA<br />

distribution for more than one year:<br />

• Two jurisdictions apply and disburse FTRO collections to any current<br />

support owed for the month in which the FTRO is received. The<br />

balance is held pending resolution of the injured spouse claim.<br />

• Four jurisdictions apply FTRO collections to the current support owed<br />

in the month in which it was received but delay disbursement of the<br />

entire collection until resolution of the injured spouse claim.<br />

• One jurisdiction holds the entire FTRO collection until resolution of<br />

the injured spouse claim and then applies the collection to any unpaid<br />

current support for the month in which the hold is lifted and disburses<br />

the entire amount.<br />

This policy dilemma and others that states encounter while considering the<br />

implementation of DRA distribution will play a part in future policymaking at<br />

the state and federal levels. If Congress moves to legislate full-family<br />

distribution, many of the discrepancies among states should recede,<br />

providing families with more certainty regarding child support and the<br />

potential for financial self-sufficiency.

Elizabeth Morgan has worked for both state government and private sector child<br />

support programs for more than 35 years. She currently serves as the Child Support<br />

Industry Director for Public Knowledge ® . Elizabeth has focused much of her career on<br />

child support financials and distribution. She has been a lead author of federal policy<br />

guidance and training for distribution requirements under both PRWORA and the DRA<br />

of 2005. She is an individual member of <strong>NCSEA</strong> and has served as co-chair of<br />

<strong>NCSEA</strong>’s Policy and Government Relations’ Legislative Education Subcommittee for<br />

the past four years. She is a past-president and honorary lifetime board member of<br />

WICSEC. Elizabeth holds a B.A. from Whitman College, an M.S. from Western<br />

Washington University, and a J.D. from Seattle University.<br />

i<br />

CARES Act, P.L. 116-136, March 27, 2020.<br />

ii<br />

Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, P.L. 109-171, February 8, 2006.<br />

iii<br />

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, P.L. 97-35, Section 2331, August 13, 1981.<br />

iv<br />

Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984, P.L. 98-378, August 16, 1984.<br />

v<br />

See 42 U.S.C. § 657(a)(2)(B) as in effect prior to the enactment of the 2005 DRA.<br />

vi<br />

TANF was established under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of<br />

1996, P.L. 104-193, August 22, 1996.<br />

vii<br />

Social Security Act of 1935, P.L. 74-271, August 14, 1935.<br />

viii<br />

See 42 U.S.C. § 608(a)(3) as in effect prior to the enactment of the 2005 DRA.<br />

ix<br />

Ibid.<br />

x<br />

See 42 U.S.C. § 608(a)(3) as enacted under P.L. 109-171, February 8, 2006.<br />

xi<br />

See 42 U.S.C. § 654(34).<br />

xii<br />

Family arrearages include never-assigned and conditionally-assigned.<br />

xiii<br />

Assigned arrearages include permanently-assigned and conditionally-assigned.<br />

xiv<br />

42 U.S.C § 664(a)(3)(B).

It’s Time to Make Families the Priority<br />

by Kristie Gordy, Wyoming Department of Family Services, Senior<br />

Administrator, Economic Security Division/IV-D Director<br />

Have you ever thought about child support as a method of primary<br />

prevention? What about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families<br />

(TANF) cash assistance?<br />

All children and adults deserve to live and be safe in their own<br />

homes, while also receiving a fair chance at success.<br />

With innovation and collaboration, health and human services agencies<br />

are poised to prioritize families and ensure they receive all interventions<br />

that allow them to become and remain economically secure. What a<br />

prime, unique, and unprecedented space we are currently operating in;<br />

the question is how do states take advantage of it?<br />

While it might feel daunting and it’s easy to get stuck in analysis<br />

paralysis, it is time for states to step up and take some risks. A ripe<br />

place to start is exploring and reimagining the connection between the<br />

child support and TANF programs and treating them as primary<br />

prevention programs. The opportunity and return on our creativity are<br />

significant, with 40% of child support customers either currently or<br />

previous TANF recipients. i Further, 60% of substantiated child protection<br />

responses involve neglect only, and providing families with economic<br />

support decreases the risk for both neglect and abuse. ii Nearly 85% of<br />

these families investigated for potential child protection concerns earn<br />

below 200% of the federal poverty level ($49,720 for a family of three in<br />

<strong>2023</strong>). iii Now imagine agencies working together to create a preventiondriven<br />

mindset by aligning these key programs aimed at preventing<br />

systemic and generational poverty and keeping children and families<br />

safe at home.

The federal government intentionally intertwined TANF and child<br />

support. TANF was restructured from the former Aid to Families with<br />

Dependent Children (AFDC) as part of a federal effort to “end welfare as<br />

we know it.” One strategy to accomplish this was requiring TANF<br />

participants to cooperate with the child support program or have their<br />

benefits reduced or eliminated. iv With cooperation comes the<br />

assignment of the parents’ rights to any child support as a way to ensure<br />

states could reimburse themselves and the federal government for the<br />

cost of providing TANF to these families.<br />

The first interplay of this cooperation requirement, as many child support<br />

and TANF administrators know, is “pass-through,” which allows a state<br />

to disburse the assigned child support to the parent to whom it is owed.<br />

States are afforded the following options: 1) for former TANF recipients,<br />

states can pass through 100% of arrearage collections to families; 2) for<br />

current TANF recipients, states can, without having to pay a federal<br />

portion, pass through up to $100 per month to families with one child, or<br />

$200 per month to families with two or more children; v 3) instead of<br />

option two, states can elect to provide full pass-through for current TANF<br />

cases, but the state is not exempted from paying the federal portion; or<br />

4) zero pass-through. vi<br />

Another critical component of the cooperation requirement relates to<br />

domestic violence. An average of 24 people per minute are victims of<br />

domestic violence by an intimate partner in the United States. vii<br />

Research indicates that low-income families face a higher rate of family<br />

violence. Importantly, states can adopt a Family Violence Option (FVO),<br />

which requires screening of TANF participants for domestic violence,<br />

referring survivors to services, and providing waivers from work and<br />

other program requirements as needed. viii Enter the concept of good<br />

cause. TANF participants have the right to refuse cooperation with the<br />

child support program if pursuing those services against a particular<br />

parent is against the best interests of the family, usually because<br />

pursuing services may put them at risk of physical or emotional harm.<br />

While the TANF regulations provide guidelines related to good cause,<br />

states have flexibility in creating policies and approval criteria. ix Yet,<br />

while 41 states and D.C. have adopted the FVO, few families are<br />

granted good cause. x How is this the case when the safety of the<br />

families we serve is paramount? It cannot be denied or ignored that<br />

domestic violence is widespread in both TANF and child support

caseloads and that child support actions trigger threats and/or violence.<br />

The current landscape has been painted and is a place we have<br />

operated in for too long. It’s time to explore the wonderful places we can<br />

go!<br />

Many states are embarking on this journey. For example, the Wyoming<br />

Department of Family Service (Wyoming) has embraced this unique<br />

opportunity and is an example of programs working together to truly<br />

prioritize families. Wyoming has adopted “WY Home Matters,” a systemwide<br />

vision/philosophy to promote a prevention-oriented child and family<br />

well-being system focused on empowering families to travel a path that is<br />

self-sustaining. A critical component is the recognition that economic<br />

support programs and services operate as primary prevention<br />

mechanisms. How are programs such as TANF and child support primary<br />

prevention? Simple. They provide families additional stability and security,<br />

with the ultimate goal of keeping children and families safe at home and<br />

providing them opportunities for success.<br />

Through the lens of WY Home Matters, Wyoming emphasizes the<br />

opportunity to focus on child support and TANF, their unique connection,<br />

and ability to help change the trajectory of families’ lives. Importantly, all<br />

primary prevention economic support programs are designed and<br />

operationalized in a coordinated fashion. This has allowed Wyoming to take<br />

advantage of the family-first movement and make substantial and<br />

meaningful changes in providing services to families, starting with child<br />

support and TANF, with a focus on pass-through and good cause.<br />

Pass-Through<br />

From its inception, the Wyoming child support program elected zero<br />

pass-through to families, focusing on the recoupment of child support to<br />

pay back the state and federal government. It became apparent that this<br />

policy decision was not best for children and families, and the program<br />

found itself in a position to explore changes. xi Clearly, any additional<br />

money, even if it is $100/month, put into the hands of parents is one step<br />

towards empowering them. Couple this with other educational and<br />

economic supports, and it can become the difference between a parent<br />

needing continued economic support and a life of economic mobility and<br />

a better future.

Embracing the prevention-minded focus where families are first, the<br />

child support and TANF programs worked closely together (along with<br />

the other economic support programs such as the Supplemental<br />

Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], Child Care, and Utilities<br />

Assistance) to develop a plan to implement pass-through for both<br />

current and former assistance cases.<br />

Current Assistance Cases<br />

Wyoming child support implemented the $100/$200 pass-through to<br />

avoid paying the federal portion. One of the most critical decisions that<br />

must be made in relation to pass-through is disregard. Disregard relates<br />

to the other economic support programs and whether the amount of child<br />

support passed through to the family is counted as income for those<br />

programs. It is important to be cognizant of how a policy shift may bear<br />

negative consequences for families in other ways. To avoid such<br />

consequences, Wyoming found it absolutely necessary to disregard<br />

pass-through income for all of the programs it could. This included<br />

TANF, Child Care, and Utilities Assistance; however, SNAP does not<br />

allow such flexibility, so currently the pass-through income is counted as<br />

income, which is not ideal. Wyoming is exploring the option for a waiver<br />

with the Food and Nutrition Services agency to allow disregard for<br />

SNAP. Wyoming rolled out pass-through for current assistance cases on<br />

May 1, 2021, and since then, hundreds of thousands of dollars have<br />

been put into the hands of families.<br />

Former Assistance Cases<br />

The Wyoming child support program has made two substantial policy<br />

shifts, both with the goal of providing families with opportunities for<br />

success. Putting more money in their hands does just that. First, in<br />

October 2021, it switched its distribution rules to require arrears<br />

payments, including IRS offsets collections, to be distributed to families<br />

first. Since implementation, nearly a million dollars has been distributed<br />

to families.<br />

Next, the child support and TANF programs worked together to plan<br />

implementation of 100% pass-through of child support collections for<br />

these cases. This piece has been the most complex, solely because of<br />

the substantial system programming changes required. No doubt, the<br />

technology work has been substantial, but the outcome for families is<br />

worth the investment. The original goal was implementation at the end of

2022, but due to shifting priorities, this was delayed, with a planned go<br />

live in the next few months.<br />

FVO and Good Cause<br />

While Wyoming recognizes the critical economic staple child support is to<br />

families, it also acknowledges that in some instances pursuing child<br />

support is not safe or in the best interests of the parent and child(ren). As<br />

such, it is a priority of the child support program to provide participants with<br />

the best information possible to enable them to make informed and<br />

confident decisions related to pursuing child support.<br />

Wyoming’s TANF program has always adopted the FVO but acknowledges<br />

that the policies and criteria created were very difficult to meet and did not<br />

align with what is known about individuals experiencing family violence<br />

(e.g., requiring a police report). The child support program recognized a<br />

few years ago that more focus and intention must be placed on domestic<br />

violence screening, sparking the comprehensive work. The child support<br />

and TANF programs collaborated in discussing and exploring options<br />

related to the TANF/child support cases and discovered two things: 1) the<br />

good cause policies were too stringent and there was flexibility to adjust;<br />

and 2) child support staff were generally more knowledgeable about the<br />

intricacies of these families’ lives.<br />

As a result, the programs recommended and implemented substantial<br />

changes, including 1) overhauling and relaxing good cause policies and<br />

criteria; 2) transitioning review and determination of good cause requests<br />

from the TANF program to the child support program; and 3) creating more<br />

robust domestic violence screening policies and tools. These changes went<br />

into place on May 1, 2022, and since then, the number of good cause<br />

requests that have been received, reviewed, and approved exceed those<br />

for the prior years.<br />

Last, Wyoming also implemented a Massachusetts-inspired policy change<br />

related to caretaker relatives, typically grandparents. Grandparents<br />

stepping up to raise their grandchildren should not have to encounter more<br />

barriers in doing so. In Wyoming, nearly 50% of the TANF caseload is<br />

made up of caretaker relatives. Wyoming’s previous policy required those<br />

caretaker relatives to cooperate with the child support program in order to<br />

receive their TANF benefit. Children being raised by family is the best<br />

option, and our policies should not impede that model, so now cases where

a caretaker relative believes that opening or proceeding with a child<br />

support case would not be in the child’s best interest must be considered<br />

for a good cause exception. This new policy went into effect on March 13,<br />

<strong>2023</strong>, and Wyoming looks forward to the benefits this change provides to<br />

this special population.<br />

Wyoming is proud to have made these policy and practice shifts and<br />

excited to see how other states utilize opportunities and benefits to families.<br />

Getting child support into the hands of financially struggling parents is not<br />

only better for that family, but also for the system as a whole, as it will help<br />

reduce the overall cost of programs such as TANF. The healthcare industry<br />

figured out how prevention strategies reduce the cost of the overall<br />

healthcare system and extend life expectancy. It is time the health and<br />

human services system does the same. Innovative, collaborative, and<br />

prevention-minded programs will empower parents to achieve their highest<br />

employment and self-sufficiency potential.<br />

All children and adults deserve to live and be safe in their own<br />

homes, while also receiving a fair chance at success.<br />

Kristie Gordy was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She began her career with<br />

the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office and took a job with the Wyoming Department of<br />

Family Services (Department) in 2008. Kristie worked as the Department’s Ombudsman<br />

and Senior Legal & Policy Analyst until she was appointed as the Interim IV-D Director<br />

in 2013. She became the Wyoming IV-D Director in November 2014 while continuing to<br />

serve as the Department’s Senior Legal & Policy Analyst. In October 2017, she was<br />

promoted to Economic Security Division Administrator and, along with child support,<br />

oversees the SNAP, TANF, Child Care, Quality Control, Eligibility Integrity,<br />

LIEAP/Weatherization, and Homelessness programs, as well as field operations. Kristie<br />

earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota,<br />

and graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 2006. She is licensed<br />

to practice law in both Wyoming and Colorado.<br />

i<br />

DCL-22-04. FY 2021 Preliminary Data Report and Tables. Office of Child Support Enforcement,<br />

Administration for Children and Families, 11 May 2022, www.acf.hhs.gov/css/policy-guidance/fy-2021-<br />

preliminary-data-report-and-tables. Accessed Mar. 29, <strong>2023</strong>.

ii<br />

Anderson, C., Grewal-Kok, Y., Cusick, G., Weiner, D., and Thomas, K. “Child and Family Well-being<br />

System: Economic & Concrete Supports as a Core Component.” PowerPoint presentation. Chapin Hall at<br />

University of Chicago, Mar. <strong>2023</strong>, www.chapinhall.org/wp-content/uploads/Economic-Supports-deck.pdf.<br />

Accessed 29 March <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

iii<br />

Id.<br />

iv<br />

“Policy Basics: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1<br />

March, 2022, https://www.cbpp.org/research/family-income-support/temporary-assistance-for-needyfamilies#:~:text=Congress%20created%20the%20TANF%20block,with%20children%20in%20poverty%2<br />

0since. Accessed 29 Mar. <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

v<br />

Full pass-through on current assistance cases is an option, but a state must pay the federal portion.<br />

Colorado is an example of a state that has implemented full pass-through.<br />

vi<br />

Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005, P.L. 109-171 (Feb. 8, 2006).<br />

vii<br />

“Domestic Violence Statistics.” National Domestic Violence Hotline,<br />

https://www.thehotline.org/stakeholders/domestic-violencestatistics/#:~:text=Women%20ages%2018%20to%2024,rates%20of%20intimate%20partner%20violence.<br />

Accessed 29 Mar. <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

viii<br />

“Policy Basics.”<br />

ix<br />

45 C.F.R. § 260, Subpart B.<br />

x<br />

“Policy Basics.”<br />

xi<br />

The Wyoming child support program budget does not rely on pass-through collections.

OCSE implements the Central Authority Payment<br />

(CAP) Service<br />

by Scott Hale, Federal Collection and Enforcement Manager,<br />

Division of Federal Systems, Office of Child Support Enforcement<br />

On January 3, <strong>2023</strong>, international child support payments took a significant<br />

step forward with OCSE’s implementation of its Central Authority Payment<br />

(CAP) service. The service provides a much-needed alternative for states<br />

to send payments to countries that no longer accept checks and require<br />

payments to be sent electronically. Germany’s decision to stop accepting<br />

checks on March 20, <strong>2023</strong> (see DCL 22-14) highlights the urgent need for<br />

this service.<br />

In her remarks to the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy Forum earlier this year, Commissioner<br />

Gray highlighted the importance of this initiative for OCSE. “This is a highpriority<br />

project for OCSE as we know that many states have found the<br />

transition from checks to electronic payments challenging. With the<br />

introduction of the CAP service, OCSE has been able to assist states in<br />

making the transition, and the solution puts more money in the hands of<br />

families, more quickly, by using fast, cost-effective federal processes.”<br />

OCSE announced the implementation of the service in DCL-23 -02 and<br />

followed up with a call with states on February 23, <strong>2023</strong>. A majority of<br />

states are now enrolled with the service or completing the enrollment<br />

process.<br />

How CAP works<br />

The CAP service leverages existing federal international payment<br />

processes to send payments quickly and cost-effectively to foreign<br />

authorities. States send payments to CAP using the same ACH electronic<br />

process they use to send payments to other states. CAP consolidates the<br />

payments by destination country and transmits a single weekly payment<br />

electronically to the foreign authority through the federal International

Treasury Services (ITS). The payments flow through a federal HHS bank<br />

account specifically designated for international child support, managed by<br />

the HHS Program Support Center. ITS converts the payment to the<br />

destination’s foreign currency before it is sent, eliminating currency<br />

conversion costs for the receiving parent. CAP concurrently provides a data<br />

file to the foreign authority containing the case and payment details, so the<br />

foreign authority can disburse the child support to the custodial parent.<br />

Enrollment with CAP<br />

States that wish to use the CAP service complete an enrollment process<br />

before payments can be sent through CAP to foreign authorities. States<br />

must reconcile their cases with each foreign authority to ensure that the<br />

foreign authority can properly identify any payment it receives. A one-time<br />

setup process, including testing of the state’s NACHA (National Automated<br />

Clearinghouse Association) payment file, ensures that the state is correctly<br />

sending the payment data that is required for the file that CAP sends to the<br />

foreign authority.<br />

Foreign partners<br />

Although the CAP service is currently sending support payments to<br />

Germany only, the service will expand to include payments to other<br />

countries that require electronic payments. Fourteen countries have<br />

formally asked the U.S. to stop sending checks (see IM 21-05), and OCSE<br />

expects more foreign partners to request electronic payments now that the<br />

service is available. OCSE’s announcement of the implementation of the<br />

CAP service at a recent meeting of the Hague Experts Group on the<br />

International Transfer of Maintenance was enthusiastically received by all<br />

countries attending. Payments from CAP to all foreign authorities will use<br />

the same process, and states that are enrolled in CAP will be able to start<br />

sending payments to any foreign country that joins CAP once they have<br />

reconciled their caseload with the foreign authority, and properly identified<br />

the country in their payment file. No additional set-up is required.<br />

Benefits for families<br />

Replacing checks with electronic payments makes a significant difference<br />

for families. Checks are expensive to cash, and foreign parents can wait<br />

months for U.S. checks to clear. The CAP process eliminates these costs<br />

and delays. Parents receive the payment in their own currency, quickly, and<br />


OCSE and the CAP team are grateful for the assistance of California,<br />

Georgia, Michigan, and New York in the design, testing, and piloting of the<br />

CAP service. Their advice, feedback, and support were invaluable in the<br />

successful implementation of the service.<br />

For more information about CAP, please email<br />

CAP_Program@acf.hhs.gov.<br />

Scott Hale is the Manager of the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement’s (OCSE)<br />

Federal Collection, Enforcement, and Special Matching Programs. As manager, Scott is<br />

responsible for the program and operations oversight of the Federal Offset, Passport<br />

Denial, Multistate Financial Institution Match, and Insurance Match programs which<br />

accounts for over 5 million noncustodial parents owing more than $110 billion in pastdue<br />

child support. He is also OCSE’s senior liaison and subject matter expert for IRS<br />

safeguarding and disclosure. Scott has 30 years of experience working in child support<br />

at the local, state, and federal levels including 25 years with OCSE.

<strong>NCSEA</strong>’S <strong>2023</strong> Policy Forum Wrap-up<br />

“Engagement – Delivering Quality Services with<br />

a Passion for Helping Families”<br />

by Connie Chesnik and Margot Bean, Co-chairs, <strong>NCSEA</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Policy Forum<br />

‘Engaging’ is the best word to describe the <strong>2023</strong> <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy Forum. The<br />

449 in-person and 264 virtual attendees enjoyed informative, thoughtprovoking<br />

discussions and presentations led by excellent speakers<br />

addressing this year’s theme, “Engagement – Delivering Quality<br />

Services with a Passion for Helping Families.” Our mission was to<br />

promote engagement and enthusiasm for what we can offer to families. We<br />

accomplished that through a two-pronged approach of addressing quality<br />

and well-informed services with a desire to do good for our families.<br />

We were honored to have both the federal Office of Child Support<br />

Enforcement (OCSE) Commissioner, Tanguler Gray, and the<br />

Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Assistant Secretary,<br />

January Contreras, join us for the opening plenary. Assistant Secretary<br />

Contreras shared a strong message of support for the work being done in<br />

the child support program. She applauded Commissioner Gray’s efforts to<br />

increase child and family safety and well-being, build economic stability,<br />

and center the well-being of Native American families and tribal<br />

communities. Commissioner Gray followed by sharing her priorities for the<br />

coming year, including:<br />

• Extending flexibility to programs during public emergencies.<br />

• Improving federal and state collaboration with tribal programs.<br />

• Reinvesting in programs that support fathers and further employment.

Together, their message provided the<br />

perfect segue for the second plenary,<br />

a lively discussion on a legislative<br />

proposal from <strong>NCSEA</strong> that reflects a<br />

significant culture shift in the child<br />

support program, covering objectives<br />

from cost recovery to family support.<br />

Attendees listened as <strong>NCSEA</strong><br />

President, Jim Fleming, and Board<br />

members Diane Potts and Bob<br />

Williams discussed the reduced role the child support program has had in<br />

cost recovery and the desire to end retained collections from current and<br />

former Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in<br />

order to pass all collections through to families. The panelists discussed<br />

proposed improvements to federal performance measures, new<br />

enforcement measures, and proposals for expanded federal funding to<br />

assist noncustodial parents in increasing their ability to earn income and<br />

develop parenting time agreements that foster deeper relationships with<br />

their children.<br />

Thursday afternoon’s plenaries began with an impactful session that<br />

bridged the gap between enforcing child support orders, the foundation of<br />

our program, and tools that can be used to improve engagement with<br />

families. Michigan’s trauma-informed approaches to enforcement and<br />

Georgia’s use of electronic hearings demonstrated how we can serve<br />

families more effectively. Texas and Oregon highlighted improvements<br />

made to existing enforcement tools. The first day of the Policy Forum<br />

concluded with a brief history of the 1115 Demonstration Waiver and<br />

Special Improvement grants, and an innovative discussion on the<br />

experiences of a few states in administering those grants. These projects<br />

have provided an opportunity to test new ideas that have helped the child<br />

support program move toward stronger engagement with participants and<br />

stakeholders. Speakers from around the country highlighted their<br />

noncustodial parent employment projects, digital marketing, behavioral<br />

interventions, and procedural justice grants, focusing on the impact their<br />

work has had and the ongoing actions being taken to sustain their efforts.<br />

In discussing how these projects moved their agencies closer to<br />

engagement, program representatives noted that as cases became<br />

customers, they’ve learned to meet people where they are and have gained<br />

a better understanding of the populations they serve.

Friday’s sessions opened with a plenary dedicated to continuing the<br />

dialogue on equitable and inclusive leadership. The discussion was led by<br />

speakers who have succeeded in implementing change in their programs.<br />

They shared their experiences by modeling diversity, equity, and inclusion<br />

(DEI) in the tone and delivery of their messages and emphasized the need<br />

to normalize DEI in our culture so that it becomes a practice and not an<br />

initiative. One of the more memorable quotes of the conference came from<br />

Ryan Parker, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CGI, who<br />

urged attendees to be thermostats, not thermometers. “Don’t take the<br />

temperature in the room, set it!”<br />

The discussion of equity carried over into a session on recent ACF policy<br />

guidance relating to foster care referrals. This session offered another<br />

opportunity to engage with our IV-E partners. Attendees heard from states<br />

that have successfully implemented the new guidance, as well as states<br />

facing implementation challenges. Strong collaboration between child<br />

support and child welfare agencies was encouraged, and both the ACF<br />

Children’s Bureau and OCSE offered their assistance to make changes in<br />

support of the children and families that we all serve.<br />

The importance of collaboration<br />

continued into the Friday<br />

afternoon plenaries, beginning<br />

with a discussion of<br />

collaboration between the<br />

Temporary Assistance for Needy<br />

Families (TANF) and child<br />

support programs featuring child<br />

support directors and economic<br />

support administrators focused on aligning their programs to enhance<br />

economic mobility through employment and training services. The<br />

discussion included the perspectives of custodial and noncustodial parents<br />

whose lived experiences helped create an understanding of how trust<br />

building and trauma-informed service delivery can produce better<br />

outcomes.<br />

Friday concluded with a very powerful session on understanding and<br />

engaging justice-involved families. The session began with a presentation<br />

from the Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty regarding the

prevalence of incarceration in the United States, providing staggering data<br />

on the number of state and federal prisoners who are parents to minor<br />

children. That presentation was followed by Fatherhood Program Director<br />

Sharmain Harris, who brought attendees to tears with his compelling story<br />

that culminated in a pardon from Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers, in late<br />

2022. Sharmain talked to his audience about how he leveraged what he<br />

has learned from his past to build a positive future where he has organized<br />

one of the most successful fatherhood programs in the country. Sharmain<br />

also emphasized the importance of engaging with fathers in the child<br />

support program, noting that while we may be able to measure how much<br />

they pay in support, we should also be measuring how much time they<br />

spend with their children.<br />

It was a packed house on Saturday for two of the most engaging sessions<br />

of the Policy Forum. Debt reduction was the topic of the first session,<br />

prompted by the publication of OCSE IM 22-03, addressing the family and<br />

state benefits of debt compromise. Research shared with attendees<br />

demonstrated that while two-thirds of state-owed arrears are over $20,000,<br />

they comprise only 15% of the cases with state-owed arrears. Most cases<br />

involve amounts below $5,000 and attendees learned about different debt<br />

reduction programs being used around the country that can reduce<br />

hardships for families and improve outcomes for the child support program.<br />

The <strong>2023</strong> <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy Forum concluded with a riveting discussion on<br />

child support caseload reductions. Preliminary results from the recently<br />

conducted National Child Support Market Research Survey highlighted<br />

reasons families opt not to reach out to the child support program.<br />

Panelists shared ideas on internal policy changes that can be made to<br />

address barriers to participation.<br />

The <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy Forum would not be possible without the hard work and<br />

planning of the Policy Forum Planning Committee. Our sincere thanks to<br />

the team for their efforts over the past six months:<br />

Carol Beecher Janice McDaniel Jay Bland<br />

Kelly Micka Kara Bradley Katie Morgan<br />

Verrhonda Bullock Ann Marie Oldani Larry Desbien<br />

Sharon Pizzuti Jason Cabrera Diane Potts<br />

Robbie Endris Amy Roehrenbeck Jim Fleming<br />

Laura Roth Corri Flores Trish Skophammer

Laura Galindo Elaine Sorensen Paul Gehm<br />

Jonell Sullivan Matthew Gomez Jeff Thompson<br />

Emily Gregg Elise Topliss Meg Haynes<br />

Rob Velcoff Lyndsey Irwin Marie Waite<br />

Daniel King Carla West Marcie Martinez<br />

Jamie Zaffino<br />

Margot Bean (Co-chair)<br />

Connie Chesnik (Co-chair)<br />

We look forward to seeing you next year in Washington, D.C. from<br />

February 2 to February 4 for the 2024 <strong>NCSEA</strong> Policy Forum!<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

currently serves on the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Board of Directors.<br />

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

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

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

Margot’s wide variety of government experience prior to joining Deloitte provides her<br />

with deep understanding and insight: Commissioner of the federal Office of Child<br />

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

Director of the Guam Child Support Program, and child support attorney. She is a<br />

current member of the <strong>NCSEA</strong> Board of Directors.

Announcing <strong>2023</strong> <strong>NCSEA</strong> U at<br />

Leadership Symposium<br />

Leading with Heart<br />

Participants in the <strong>2023</strong> <strong>NCSEA</strong> U at Leadership<br />

Symposium program will have the opportunity to explore<br />

the importance of what it means to lead with heart in order<br />

to change their workplaces for the better. Leading with<br />

Heart will equip participants with the tools to become more<br />

empathetic leaders, for the benefit of their teams and the<br />

families they serve.<br />

We are pleased to introduce the <strong>2023</strong>-2024 summer <strong>NCSEA</strong> U instructors, Robbie<br />

Endris and Laura Van Buskirk.<br />


What is included with <strong>NCSEA</strong> U?<br />

A pre-conference Get Acquainted Webinar, virtual and on-site sessions, one postevent<br />

webinar, plus networking events at Leadership Symposium.<br />

The <strong>2023</strong> <strong>NCSEA</strong> U program will be held in conjunction with the <strong>NCSEA</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Leadership Symposium in Anaheim, CA. The Leadership Symposium is scheduled for<br />

Sunday, August 6 through Wednesday, August 9, with the <strong>NCSEA</strong> U classes held<br />

directly following the conference on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 9 and the<br />

morning of Thursday, August 10. The <strong>2023</strong> <strong>NCSEA</strong> U registration fee is $200.<br />


Application Now Available - final submission date is Monday, May 1, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Click for more<br />

information, including<br />

application link

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