Director’s Message – August 2013

Colleen Eubanks, Executive Director, NCSEA
(originally published in the August 2013 issue of Child Support CommuniQue)

As I sit in my office writing this column, it is just a week since I said goodbye in Baltimore to many of the child support professionals who attended this year’s Annual Conference. The conference was great, and it was really energizing to spend three days at the Baltimore Hilton listening to the buzz and enthusiasm of hundreds of attendees networking, sharing ideas and getting to know each other. I can’t do the conference justice, but please read our annual scholarship award winner’s story in this issue. She encapsulates what makes the Annual Conference such a wonderful experience. In addition, Gretchen’s experience and inspiration for the past year—from reading a CSQ article to implementing a project based on that article, and then coming to the annual conference to learn more and apply that to her work back in her home state and office – is the epitome of the NCSEA membership experience. I encourage and implore our members and the directors of our member agencies to think about the impact sharing the information that comes from NCSEA provides to staff within your organization. Consider sharing the information and opportunities, such as forwarding the CSQ and attending Web-Talks. These are relatively easy things to do. For all you know, your agency may end up implementing a best practice, or even developing one of your own to share with colleagues across the country.

Regular readers of my column will know that for the past several issues I have been focusing on the issue of the modern American family, and our conference branding for the past two years has been trying to focus on that theme. The second plenary of this year’s annual conference was a splendid living example of the issues related to this theme. Three Washington area women told similar personal stories of their experience in navigating the legal issues of being same sex couples having, raising and adopting their children over the past twenty years. While the circumstances of becoming parents were the same, the outcomes of their family stories were very different. One family experienced the tragic and unexpected loss of a parent, the second experienced a difficult breakup of the parents, but still co-parented their child; and the third experienced a difficult breakup of the domestic relationship, and the mother telling the story has not seen her child in years because of the lack of legal designation as parent. The impact of public policy, interpretation and implementation of family law, AND the manner in which government officials treat families can have a profound impact on families’ lives and the wellbeing of children. I know when we see hundreds or thousands of cases, it can be tempting to just treat these as cases to be resolved, worked or solved. It is critically important that we remember, and help set a culture in our organizations of making sure staff recognizes that each and every case revolves around individuals; in some situations, we can make a significant difference in each of those individual lives. Thanks to all that you do to make that impact.

Finally, we want to let you know that the CSQ is going to a bi-monthly publication schedule effective next month. We have been publishing online as a monthly publication for two years now, and have discovered that the time and effort involved in this project which is done primarily by a small and very dedicated band of volunteers supported administratively by our staff, is just too much of an investment of our valuable volunteer resources. I want to express my deep gratitude to the CSQ Committee, especially our co-chairs, Jan Grinnell and Mary Ann Wellbank, who have put in countless hours every month overseeing and editing articles, urging writers to meet their deadlines, and cheerfully rallying their committee to do great work. I’d also like to encourage you to consider writing an article. You only need to re-read Gretchen’s article in this issue to see what an impact you can have.

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