(published in November/December issue of Child Support CommuniQue)
We are rapidly coming to the close of yet another year. I love this season – the anticipation of beloved family traditions, delicious foods and meals, thoughtful gifts, sparkling parties where everyone is dressed up in holiday finery, and so much more. I especially love that my college kids come home and are relieved of the stresses of worrying about exams, papers, roommates, etc. even if only for a few weeks. I am also cognizant of the great fortune of having three young adults who become more self-sufficient every year and who will soon be financially independent. In contrast, I can’t help but think about all the children in our country and throughout the world that are not as fortunate as my children.
As an individual who has dedicated much of my professional life, skills, and commitment to working in and for organizations that support vulnerable children in a myriad of ways, I find it somewhat frustrating that the few weeks between Thanksgiving and the end of the year are the only time many others focus on vulnerable families. Opportunities to provide toys and clothing to children in poverty are suddenly everywhere – from the local department store, to the mall, to the fire station collecting Toys for Tots. There are numerous organized chances to provide food to families through food drives, turkey give-a-ways, and store gift cards that pop up in every place we buy food. By no means would I discourage anyone from participating in those activities and drives; I only wish our society supported vulnerable families, particularly those with children, all year round with the same generosity and enthusiasm seen at this time of year.
This frustration is one of the reasons I love working in a supportive position to the IV-D community. The child support program in the US is such a key program for lifting the very poorest children out of extreme poverty. I am sure many of the children who receive the bounty distributed at this time of year are in the child support case load, and while it must be a pleasant boost to a stressed parent to receive some of the additional help, I take great pride in knowing that the community I serve as the association’s executive director focuses on helping that population every day child support professionals go into work.
I have visited many child support programs throughout the US. Different though the structure of each state or local program may be, that core commitment to getting parents to support their children is a constant. In addition, thanks to Commissioner Turetsky’s now famous “bubble chart,” I am pleased to see so many IV-D agencies at both the local and state levels working to develop partnerships with agencies or organizations that will help non custodial parents overcome barriers to providing support; while encouraging increased positive engagement with their children. I have hope for families in these situations: that in the future they, like me, will be able to revel in this time of year, and in an increased confidence that their children, like mine, will be self-sufficient and self-supporting in the future.
I hope to see you at the Policy Forum here in Washington, DC in February. The program is shaping up to be very fascinating and the discussions around public policy and the changing structure of the US modern family is going to make this a “must attend” conference in the child support community.
Until the next time, I wish you all a very wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!