As I write this column we are in the last two weeks before NCSEA’s 2014 Annual Conference in Portland. While the staff is busy and our days are full, this year we really feel as if “we’ve got this.” Our hotel block sold out weeks ago and our registration numbers are hitting a level we haven’t seen in over a decade. Everyone’s excited about going to Oregon and looking forward to enjoying some of the food and beverage for which Portland is well known. The series of workshops on the agenda look fantastic and our first NCSEA U class is enthused about their opportunity to dig more deeply into Strategies for Increasing Program Performance.
This is also the time of year in which our leadership and volunteers finish up the charges and commitments of the past year and look forward to the next leadership year that will begin September 1. We are finally seeing the fruits of years of trying to educate federal legislators about the child support program and its successes and innovations. For the past year, the Legislative Education committee has been working with state IV-D offices to develop briefing papers we call “State Success Stories.” Tom Joseph, NCSEA’s professional advocate, and I have been using those papers in positive meetings with Capitol Hill staff as we discussed the child support program. They have been of great assistance in starting dialogues and answering questions about a program that most of the Hill staff knows little about.
We had a record number of highly qualified, dedicated professionals involved in many aspects of child support run for the Board of Directors this year, as well as excellent participation by members voting in the election. In general, engagement in NCSEA by a variety of individuals and organizations has steadily increased this year.
We realize this increased engagement may be due to the fact that the economy is finally improving after a difficult five year struggle, especially for people like those in the IV-D community who are dedicated to public service and/or the public/private partnerships that make up the child support community. We are grateful for that. I also hope that this increased participation and engagement also indicates how NCSEA as an organization is a vital and important resource, for members, for the child support community, the public, and especially for the politicians and their staffs.
We will soon send out a call for volunteers as we get ready for the upcoming year. I hope you will consider getting involved in NCSEA, from serving on one of the professional development committees that plan and implement the education and information from Web-Talks to Policy Forum to the Annual Conference. Working with a colleague to develop or share a finding via a Web-Talk would be a great way to get involved without worrying about travel authorization or expense approvals and will help the rest of the community. Editing or writing for the CSQ, serving on one of the Policy & Government Relations committee sub groups are also some easy ways to get involved in NCSEA that will continue to make the association the voice of the child support community.
I look forward to seeing so many of our members and friends in Portland, and if you aren’t able to join us there, I hope you can make plans to be in Washington DC in February 2015 for the Policy Forum. I hope you have enjoyed some time off with loved ones in a relaxing place this summer and I congratulate you for your part in making the child support community such a vibrant and wonderful community.