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(Issued by Dept. of Child Support Services) California Officials Accept $193 Million Federal Rebate for Success in Building Statewide Child Support System

Released June 27, 2008

Federal Commissioner Margot Bean Visits California to Laud State’s Success

MARTINEZ – Federal Child Support Commissioner Margot Bean visited California Friday to meet with state officials and announce that California has succeeded in building an automated statewide system for tracking and collecting child support, resulting in a $193 million rebate from the federal government.

“I’m pleased to be here in California today to offer my sincere congratulations and commendation to you and all those involved in the success of California’s child support automation system,” said Commissioner Bean. “The drive and commitment I have seen from everyone involved with this project is impressive. California’s child support program is the nation’s largest child support program and arguably one of the most complex.”

Commissioner Bean’s visit to the Contra Costa County Department of Child Support Services came eight days after the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement notified California officials that they had achieved certification for a statewide automated child support system under development since 2000. Reviews by federal officials took place throughout 2007 and 2008, culminating in a final review June 4-10 that resulted in certification of California’s system in a letter from Commissioner Bean on June 19.

Certification by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement is a critical milestone that means the end of federal penalties paid by California over nine years. Federal laws enacted in 1988 and 1996 require all states to put statewide child support systems in place.

“This is an historic day,” said David Maxwell-Jolly, director of the California Department of Child Support Services. “We have truly turned the corner in California with the success of this system, and now more California children and families will benefit through better collection and distribution of child support payments.”

California director, Department of Finance Mike Genest said the federal rebate is welcome news at a critical time.

“In our present budget crisis, California needs every dollar it can find,” Genest said. “I commend the Department of Child Support Services, as well as their local and federal partners, for seeing to it that California is out from under the threat of costly federal penalties.” Commissioner Bean also was welcomed in California by Selvi Stanislaus, Executive Officer of the state Franchise Tax Board, California State Information Officer Teri Takai and Contra Costa County Director of Child Support Services Linda Dippel.

The California Child Support Automation System (CCSAS) was built through a partnership between the Department of Child Support Services, the Franchise Tax Board and local child support agencies. Since the CCSAS project began, officials have drawn on the expertise of state information technology experts, private contractors including IBM and a group of subcontractors, and state and local child support professionals who helped develop and design a system that meets federal requirements and folds separate county systems into a single, standardized case management system.

The automated child support system is currently operating statewide, linking existing county systems with a newly designed system that is being rolled out county by county. Case records existing in one county are now shared uniformly among all counties in the system so that non-custodial parents can be tracked and held accountable for supporting their children more efficiently and effectively.

Monthly county transitions to the system will continue through November 2008, ending with the transition of Los Angeles County. When statewide implementation is complete, the child support system will manage the nation’s largest child support caseload of more than 1.6 million child support cases covering approximately 1.8 million children.

The 1988 Family Support Act amended the Social Security Act to require all states to establish a single statewide automated child support system. Additional federal legislation, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), increased federal automation requirements by stipulating all states to establish a single location for processing all child support collections and disbursements. The law intended to:

  • improve the accuracy of child support records;
  • speed payment processing; and
  • streamline wage assignment processing for employers.

The California Department of Child Support Services was created by legislation in 2000. The department’s mission is to promote the well-being of children and the self-sufficiency of families by assisting both parents to meet the financial, medical and emotional needs of their children. The department and the local child support agencies that it oversees establish, collect and distribute child support for children in California, as well as establish medical support and determine paternity.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Maxwell-Jolly director of the department on November 28, 2007. He has been involved in the development of the system in various leadership roles since its inception.

In California, child support program services are delivered through local child support agencies. For more information, visit the department’s website: www.childsup.ca.gov.