Last week I attended the Western Interstate Child Support Enforcement Council Conference in Jackson Hole Wyoming. I was part of a session on the implications of Turner v. Rogers.
I talked to people from many states (Wyoming, California, and Colorado among them), and was impressed by the level of interest in closer collaboration between courts and child support enforcement agencies at the state and local level. Most of the people I talked to really see their work as access to justice work, and they see themselves not primarily as collection agents, but as a gateway to financial stability for the families they help. In fact, the vast majority of their caseload is not collecting reimbursement for welfare payments, but rather trying to get non-custodial parents to pay their fair share of the costs that custodial parents bear. Moreover, they realize the importance of both sides being heard, of not imposing impossible orders, and of being flexible and sensitive when parents are unable to make their payments.
Which is all by way of encouraging those concerned with access to reach out an include state and local IV-D agencies in your planning processes. Indeed, in some states, the costs of self-help services provided in child support cases are now reimbursed under the federal IV-D program, pursuant to collaborative agreements between the IV-D agency and the courts. As a general matter, 66% of child support and establishment and collection costs are potentially reimbursable, and there is no state or per capita cap on total IV-D reimbursement. As some of you know, I have funding to work on developing materials to encourage such collaboration, and would welcome thoughts on how best to do so.