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County earns state honors for top performing child agency

POSTED January 22, 2013 10:59 p.m.

The Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services was among those recognized at the Statewide Directors Meeting held Jan. 16.

The county agency received the Most Improved Performance Award for 2012. Stanislaus County DCSS has a caseload over 31,000 serving more than 110,000 participants in the county. Over $49 million dollars was collected by the local agency in FFY 2012 and utilized at a cost effectiveness rate accumulating approximately $3.54 for every dollar expended. Stanislaus ranked ninth in the state in cost efficiency, and continued to improve its statewide ranking as they shifted from the 24th slot to the 15th as a result of exceeding county and statewide specific goals.

Interim Director of Stanislaus County DCSS Tamara Thomas said she was proud of the recognition, but believes the result will also influence customer participation.

“What this does is give credibility to our hard work and effort. I want to mention that they’ll probably say that these numbers represent their hard work, but it means that our children are being taken care of more timely. That is a big impact to the customers. It is absolutely a safety net. We are proud to keep the customer in mind while we work in these things internally,” Thomas said.

The California Department of Child Support Services and 51 Local Child Support Agencies have acquired roughly 1.3 million cases, acting as the largest child support system in the nation. Throughout the 2012 Fiscal Year, California’s child support program acquired and dispersed over $2.3 billion in child support payments.

Five agencies were showcased in California as the most improved in overall performance by the size of their caseload. The winners include: Marin (very small county), Napa (small), Sonoma (medium), Stanislaus (large) and San Diego (very large).

The Improvement Award is the first state award granted to Stanislaus County DCSS, however, Stanislaus County DCSS has received a number of National Awards for 2012 for their programs, and was selected by the federal government as one of the eight nationally awarded beneficiaries overseeing a five year national demonstration grant.

Stanislaus DCSS has implemented a process that was quick and efficient in dealing with support order cases throughout the last couple years, bumping up its average by approximately 12 cases.

“It takes about a year or two years to get a court order situated. We focused getting those established within a year. That was a huge change for us. We bumped the statistic standard up to 94.1. That was the biggest leap we made, going from 82 to 94 orders,” Thomas said.

Last September, Stanislaus DCSS was recognized for its "Stepping Up to the Plate" child support campaign by the National Child Support Enforcement Association. The partnership between the Stanislaus County DCSS and the Modesto Nuts, a Class A minor league baseball team, emphasized the importance of family members participating in children’s lives by running 30 second public service announcements at Modesto Nuts games. The PSA played 71 times throughout the 2012 season, issuing national statistics about the importance of parent involvement and the consequences of a guardian’s absence. To get parents involved at the games, the Stanislaus DCSS also encouraged parents and children to play “Catch on the Field,” before the initial start of the game.

In October, Stanislaus DCSS was also awarded one of eight National Non-Custodial Parent Employment Demonstration Project grants from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Families and Children and the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. The grant of approximately $775,000 is to be applied over a five year period. Additional federal financial participation worked in tandem with Stanislaus DCSS, which matched the funds for a project total of $2.32 million throughout the five years.

The agency is preparing for an October 2013 implementation of a federal initiative to improve stable payments of child support, thereby deterring public expenses and progressing children’s security.

The grants are expected to introduce two new programs, a domestic violence department designated to keep families safe and secure, and an employment placement program that will help parents get situated in order to pay off their support.

For more information about Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services, visit http://www.stancodcss.org/

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