Supporting Children by Supporting Parents

With an emphasis on the “Service” aspect of the Division name, the DES Division of Child Support Services strives to support not only parents who have custody of the children, but noncustodial parents, as well, by providing to them access to opportunities for employment, financial resources and service outreach. With approximately 170,000 active cases and collections in Fiscal Year 2016 of more than $703M, the Division is utilizing new, innovative and convenient methods to ensure children receive the financial support needed to help pave the way for a successful future.

Communication

DCSS uses one-way texting to notify parents of appointments, court dates and meetings. This fall, the Division will begin implementing two-way texting.

"By using two-way texting, they [the parents] can actually respond back to the case manager and have one-on-one interaction.Or, they [the case manager] can send out text messages to a group of people who might qualify for additional parenting support, split time or just provide additional resources."

--Molly McCarthy, DCSS Business Administrator

Partnership

DCSS collaborates with our Division of Employment and Rehabilitation (DERS) and its partner ARIZONA@WORK to provide employment resources to parents. DCSS also works with the Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) and its community partners to provide financial resources to parents to provide more comprehensive support to families to address a range of issues which may lead to noncustodial parents failing to make child support payments.

“Say something happens where someone has to decide whether to pay rent, or make their child support payment. They [DAAS] can do a one-time aid or assistance, or get them enrolled in a utility support or subsidized program. We want to utilize those resources.”

-Molly McCarthy, DCSS Business Administrator

Comfortable Visits

DCSS plans to modify offices to improve aesthetics and make clients feel more comfortable. Case workers are also encouraged to meet with parents outside an office, in a neutral, public location.

Domestic Violence Awareness Training

It's not unusual for case workers to meet with both parents together in the early stages of a case. In situations where domestic violence has been a factor, it's important the case worker become aware of the issue, not only to assist him or her with the case, but ensure the safety of everyone involved.

The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement developed and facilitated a training course with the support of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. Case workers, community partners and others involved in the case will undergo this training to learn how to identify indicators of domestic violence and how to address them.

These four projects are funded by the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) grant, aimed at supporting noncustodial parents to keep them out of the court system and ensure children receive financial support. Arizona is one of only five states to have been awarded the grant of $830,000 over the course of five years, which will be matched in part by other federal monies.

For more information about DCSS and the services it offers, visit des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/child-support

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