Happy New Year!
I hope that you and your loved ones had a wonderful holiday season. This is a time of reflection for many of us– looking backwards and then looking forward. I know that I have much to be grateful for–happy and independent children and grandchildren, a husband who loves (and tolerates) me, a great job/career, and a team of incredibly talented and skilled professionals with whom I get to work every day. Life is good, and I say thanks every day during my morning prayer ritual in the car. But, with that said, I realize that there are many, many people in this world who are not as fortunate as I. According to the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau, our nation’s poverty rate in 2014 was 14.8%, meaning that the number of people stuck in poverty was 46.7 million. Those of us working in child support see these individuals every day. Life is tough for them.
Our world is in turmoil. Just two months ago, in neighboring San Bernardino County (CA), an unbelievably horrific massacre took place–with 14 county employees brutally murdered, and several others severely injured. In November, over 120 people died in an attack in Paris. I now speak regularly with my staff about active shooter vigilance. As uncomfortable as it is, I must talk to folks about what to do if there is an active shooter on the premises. With eight office locations, I can’t be everywhere–my senior management staff has to know how to handle such a situation if it occurs. Our line staff have to be trained in what their appropriate actions should be. This is an awful situation to be in–even more uncomfortable than talking about sex to my kids when they were younger. This is our world in 2016–and our new normal.
But, back to the beginning of my message–and the part about being grateful and appreciative for all we have. It is because of our place in this life–and our jobs that we have an obligation, really a privilege, to help others. We do that every day. Sometimes it isn’t as obvious as others, but, in reality, everything we touch is about helping others. A year ago, Kathy Sokolik wrote about the chaos in her childhood in the NCSEA President’s Message. I found that article so inspirational– especially the part where she said, “Like my siblings and me, others need a little help from caring adults along the way.” Folks, that’s what we do–provide help and care for others.
So, here’s my message: As we look forward to the year ahead, let’s all recommit to figuring out new and creative ways to help the people who depend on us every day. Obviously, that means collecting child support payments in more efficient and timely ways, but also, what about helping non-custodial parents ensure that their orders are fair and appropriate? What about referrals to sister agencies for basic needs such as nutritional assistance, health care, fatherhood or parenting classes, and domestic violence referrals? There must be a million other actions we can take to help those who come to us for help–both custodial and non-custodial parents.
Write to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know what your ideas are. I’ll make sure that they are shared with the entire NCSEA family.
I am so proud to be a part of this child support community, and I know you are also!
Again, Happy New Year–see you soon at the Policy Forum in DC.
by Steven Golightly, President, NCSEA