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Alameda County, CA, acgov.org

CHILD SUPPORT LEGISLATION

GOVERNMENT ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE CHILD SUPPORT PROCESS

INTRODUCTION

Enacted in 1975, Title IV-D of the Social Security Act requires each state to establish a child and spousal enforcement program. Section 45, Part 300 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) further details the responsibilities of the federal, state, and local governments for the child and spousal support enforcement program. The goal of the Child Support Enforcement Program is to ensure that children are financially supported by both parents. Recent laws, such as the Child Support Services Act of 1988 and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), provide for strong child support enforcement measures to assure that parental responsibility is met. Child support enforcement services are required for those families on welfare and available upon request for those families not receiving public assistance.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The federal agency responsible for the child support enforcement program is the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/index.html). OCSE is located in the Administration for Families and Children (ACF) in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS). OCSE is responsible for:

  • Developing program regulations.
  • Reviewing and approving state plans and plan amendments.

Establishing and maintaining a Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) including the new National Director of New Hires (10/1/97) and a Federal Case Registry of Support Orders (10/1/98). States submit the relevant information to maintain these databases. FPLS must match data between the New Hire and Case Registry every two days.

  • Funding states' programs, including funding of computer systems at regular and enhanced funding levels.
  • Approving state waiver requests.
  • Providing technical assistance to states on request.
  • Conducting on-site program reviews.
  • Auditing states' programs for compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness.
  • Imposing sanctions when a state's plan fails to comply with the federal laws or regulations.

The goal of the Child Support Enforcement Program is to ensure that both parents financially support their children. Child support enforcement services are required for those families on welfare and upon request for those families not receiving welfare.

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STATE GOVERNMENT

The California Department of Child Support Services (CDCSS) http://www.childsup.ca.gov/Home/AboutDCSS/tabid/61/Default.aspx is the responsible state agency for the child support enforcement program in California. Its responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining the state plan.
  • Seeking legislation as needed to implement program requirements.
  • Publicizing the availability of the Title IV-D services.
  • Evaluating the quality, efficiency, effectiveness and scope of county program operations.
  • Maintaining a central registry for all interstate requests for support enforcement; assure compliance with the states' URESA laws.
  • Paying county claims for administrative reimbursement.
  • Maintaining state-level intercept and /or withholding systems.
  • Developing and disseminating program policies, standards, procedures, and instructions.
  • Allocating and distributing incentive payments to counties.
  • Reviewing, evaluating, monitoring and recommending federal approval for electronic data processing efforts undertaken by local jurisdictions.
  • Providing technical assistance to counties on request.
  • Maintaining the State Directory of New Hires and State Case Registry.
  • Working with the Franchise Tax Board to create a statewide child support computer system and distribution unit.

The California Central Registry (CCR) receives all incoming inter-jurisdictional cases and reviews the documents from the other state for appropriateness and then sends the cases to the local child support services office of the county where the non-custodial parent resides for enforcement.

For information about the California Department of Child Support Services' priorities for the next five years, please click here to review the 2010-2014 Strategic Plan.

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Prior to January 1, 2000, local responsibility for child support enforcement was assigned to the county District Attorney's Office. Effective January 1, 2000, California legislation required that each county establish a separate county Department of Child Support Services. The local child support agency is responsible for the following:

  • Receiving and giving out child support applications and referrals.
  • Opening cases.
  • Locating non-custodial parties and their assets.
  • Establishing paternity.
  • Determining the amount, terms and payment method of the obligation.
  • Maintaining accounts of what is paid and owed.
  • Enforcing child, spousal and health insurance coverage obligations through legal and administrative means.

The agency also complies with some general administrative programs:

  • Keep all records of case activities.
  • Secure case information.
  • Work with other states to deliver IV-D services.
  • Separate cash handling and accounting functions.
  • Process and distribute collections according to state and federal regulations.
  • Maintain an accounting system that has the generally accepted accounting standards.
  • Maintain an employee dishonesty bond or self-insurance.

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