December is such a great time to pause a little, reflect on the year that is almost gone, as well as look forward to the year ahead. As I celebrate my eighth anniversary as NCSEA’s executive director this month, it is especially sweet to look back over the activities and accomplishments of 2014.
After years of advocating for federal legislation implementing language for The Hague Treaty which standardizes and streamlines the process of enforcing and collecting child support across international borders, it was finally adopted by Congress. A number of NCSEA members and leaders were deeply involved in the work developing the Treaty and it is so gratifying to have all that effort, dedication, and hundreds of hours of volunteer time including travel to The Hague over a number of years, validated with this legislation (Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act – HR 4980). Jim Fleming, NCSEA Board member and co-chair of the Policy and Government Relations Committee, provides more information about the legislation, including a provision regarding a mandatory Report to Congress for the child support program in the Community Corner. Jim also reviews the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which was released in November. We have been waiting years for this to come out. The Policy and Government Relations Committee is currently managing the process of NCSEA’s response to the NPRM as well as input to the Report to Congress.
We are looking forward to a successful Policy Forum in Washington, DC. I hope you are planning on joining us in February at the Capital Hilton for this year’s Forum, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the IV-D program. Our theme is “Lessons from the Past, Challenges of the Present, and Visions for the Future.” NCSEA’s Policy Forum is a unique offering and is always highly rated. It is a wonderful opportunity to help inform and learn from policy makers – both in the child support program and other arenas of human services, or academics who study the IV-D and related programs. We have consistently delivered a thoughtful, often provocative, always evolving, program. It meets the needs of the child support community leadership to consider, review, and learn ways to innovatively influence and implement public policy that improves the services and support provided, while still staying true to the program’s core mission and services.
The Policy Forum is a perfect example of how NCSEA is committed to being the premiere resource for education and dissemination of information to the child support community. To that end, in 2014 we introduced NCSEA U in conjunction with the Annual Conference and Expo. Demand for this program far exceeded the number of seats we were able to offer or provide. The first class of NCSEA U participants was universally positive about the program. It also indicates a strong demand for a structured program for potentially emerging leaders in the child support program. Based on the demand for, and success of this program, it will now become a regular part of the NCSEA offerings. We are making some scheduling changes based on participants’ feedback that will allow attendees to participate in all the other offerings of the August event as well as the NCSEA U curriculum.
This leads me to the looking ahead portion of this month’s column. Based on the feedback and performance of the Policy Forum and NCSEA U, it is clear that there is a demand for programming, information, and as importantly, national networking geared towards management and leadership of the child support program that is not being met in other venues or programs. To that end, the NCSEA Board of Directors recently approved significant changes to what has been NCSEA’s Annual Conference and Expo. Beginning in Milwaukee, NCSEA will offer a Leadership Symposium in place of the Annual Conference and Expo. President Kathy Sokolik has appointed a dynamic leadership team of NCSEA Board members and volunteers to develop and manage this revamped program. Much as the Policy Forum focuses on public policy and regulation at a high level, the Leadership Symposium will be a vehicle by which the child support community can share and celebrate the application of best practices, partnerships, and innovative thinking within the day to day management and operations of the child support program. We are excited about the programming and opportunities we will be developing as part of this revitalized program. Be on the lookout for upcoming information about the programming and schedules for the Symposium.
I hope that each of you has time over this holiday season to spend a few minutes reflecting on your personal and professional accomplishments over 2014 – as well as to look forward to the future. I am so grateful to be involved in the IV-D community as it is such a resilient, resourceful community. In the past eight years, I have learned countless lessons; personal and professional. I am looking forward to my continued involvement and the evolution of our offerings to keep up with the changing needs of the child support program.
I wish you, your staff, and loved ones all a wonderful holiday season and a happy 2015!