“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.”
~ Elizabeth Lawrence
Happy Fall to you!
First, a big thank you to those who joined us at our annual conference in Portland, Oregon in August. Portland proved to be an attractive venue; we had nearly 200 more attendees than we have had in recent years. A special thank you to all the presenters who shared their time and expertise, providing meaningful learning experiences for participants. And of course, we can’t do it without our private sector partners, who sponsor and exhibit at our conferences, and serve on the NCSEA board and its committees throughout the year. In conjunction with the annual conference, we launched “NCSEA-U”, and are very happy with the success of our inaugural program. We’ll use feedback from the participants and instructors and look for ways to make this an even more meaningful learning experience for our NCSEA-U class of 2015.
And we’re already in planning mode and looking forward to a year of new TeleTalks, and our annual Policy Forum in February 2015, in Washington DC. It looks like we’ll have a lot to talk about.
- HR 4980 – the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act – contains child support provisions long-sought by NCSEA, including the implementing language for the Hague Treaty. Under the law, states will be required to adopt UIFSA 2008. Tribal child support programs also gain direct access to the Federal Parent Locator Service. HR 4980 requires states to implement electronic income withholding (e-IWO) by October 1, 2015. The bill also directs the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to work with stakeholders to identify efficiencies and best practices to inform the development of the strategic plan. The OCSE report is due to Congress in less than a year (June 30, 2015). The timelines are daunting, but NCSEA will be doing everything in its power to support the state and tribal child support programs as we adopt and adapt to the changes.
- Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM): Various NCSEA committees are prepared and looking forward to reviewing and responding to the long-awaited proposed regulations – just as soon as they are released.
Expect to see Tele-Talks and Policy Forum sessions addressing UIFSA 2008 as well as child support policy changes included in the NPRM.
2015 will mark the IV-D program’s 40th anniversary. Anniversaries provide an excellent opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Both HR 4980 and the soon-to-be-released NPRM provide NCSEA the opportunity to help determine child support’s future. Toward that end, members of the NCSEA board and various committees will meet in Washington D.C. in early November, to build on the momentum we established this year, getting in front of policy issues that are critical to the success of the child support program. From family-centered services to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, NCSEA will continue to strengthen its role as the national voice of the child support program.
This anniversary is also an excellent time to celebrate what we do for families across the country. The child support program serves one in four children in the United States. Recently the Kern County California child support office received a letter of thanks from a non-custodial parent and his wife, upon closure of his case when his support obligation ended. To quote various parts of the letter:
“Your team has been a big part of our life and you don’t even know it. When my husband was fighting for visitation or a modification…you helped him. Everytime. Without fail. Professionally and without delay. This summer our relationship with you officially ended. We received the change in child support…it was bittersweet. My husband…read the order and said ‘we should write a letter to these people and thank them for their years of help. They always treated me with respect.’ We appreciate your service. We benefitted from your help. We see you. We see you just as you saw us – as real live people trying to do our best for the kids. Please accept our sincere thanks for all that you do that is unseen, unrewarded, and under-appreciated.”
2015 is going to be a great year for child support and with your help, a great year for NCSEA. We won’t have a lot of time to sit still and watch the seasons change, because we know that as child support professionals, it is our job to continue moving the program forward, in service to kids and families everywhere.