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September 16, 2004

ETA REGIONAL INFORMATION ALERT     032-04

ORIGINATING OFFICE:     Region 5

SUBJECT:    Notice - Child Support Enforcement Initiative; Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services

PROGRAM(S):       All Programs

1.  Purpose.  To transmit a notice about the Child Support Enforcement Initiative resulting from an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families.

2.  References.   Social Security Act, Title IV-D; Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act; Balanced Budget Act of 1997; Workforce Investment Act.  

3.  Links.  This Alert is in the Regional Resources website archive at: http://www.doleta.gov/regions/regionalresources/

4. Background.  In 2003, the Employment and Training Administration and the Department of and Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families signed an interagency agreement (Attachment 1) to take steps to increase the number of non-custodial parents who secure and retain unsubsidized jobs through the workforce investment system, so that they can better meet their child support obligations.

5.  Substance.   To further the purposes of this agreement, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (CSEA) is conducting training seminars - Better Outcomes Through Collaboration - to train managers in the child support enforcement, TANF and workforce development systems about methods of establishing collaborative partnerships. The training will focus on improving customer service to low-income families and Non-Custodial Parents and on better cross-program coordination through the development of a clearer understanding, on the part of workers, of the importance of their efforts to the successful work of their counterparts.   

Sessions are scheduled for the following areas:

Providence, Rhode Island           October 14-15
County of Los Angeles, CA        October 5-6
Phoenix, Arizona                       November 4-5
Minneapolis, Minnesota              November 16-17

Two training sessions remain to be scheduled in New York and Philadelphia.  In addition, there will be a train-the-trainer session scheduled in late Winter. Attachment 2 contains information regarding the training. 

6.  Action.  Program administrators are requested to share this Information Alert with appropriate staff and other agencies.

7.  Contact.  Comments or questions about the Better Outcomes Through Collaboration seminars may be directed to Dail Moore, Office of Child Support Enforcement on 202.401.3438. Comments or questions about the format of this Alert may be directed to Tom Coyne on 312.596.5435.

8.  Expiration Date. November 16, 2004

9.  Attachments

Attachment 1 - Better Outcomes Through Collaboration: An Interactive Seminar for Managers of Child Support, TANF, and Workforce Investment

Attachment 2 - Interagency Agreement Between the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration and the U.S. Department of health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families - Office of Child Support Enforcement


Attachment 1

INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT

Between the U.S. Department of Labor --Employment and Training Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- Administration for Children and Families/Office of Child Support Enforcement

BACKGROUND

In September 2000, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services (DHHS) signed an interagency agreement designed to bring Welfare-to-Work (WtW) and Child Support Enforcement (CSE) closer together.  The agreement was technical assistance product-focused and was successful in providing information and encouraging coordination - training, written materials, conference calls, and the like.  The Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Commissioner of OCSE signed the agreement.

ETA and OCSE recognize that coordination is necessary but not sufficient.  As a result of the September 2000 interagency agreement, the workforce development and child support systems became much more familiar with one another.  Now it is time to take the next step and promote measurable outcomes.  This second interagency agreement acknowledges new leadership by its signatures, defines three special activities to be undertaken, and describes how success will be measured by the results produced on the ground.  The increased coordination resulting from this agreement is a fundamental link between the missions of both agencies: connecting noncustodial parents (NCPs) with gainful, unsubsidized employment through the workforce investment system, so that they can better meet their child support obligations.  

AGREEMENT

The DHHS, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), OCSE, and the Department, ETA, hereby enter into a partnership agreement.  The purpose of this partnership agreement is:

To increase the number of non-custodial parents who secure and retain unsubsidized jobs through the workforce investment system, so that they can better meet their child support obligations.


This partnership agreement is rooted in Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the Workforce Investment Act, and the WtW and CS Amendments of 1999, particularly those provisions that address services to NCPs.

This interagency agreement does not involve an exchange of funds.  The services to be provided by each partner are roughly equal.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

With slight variations, there are two primary measures of success where the employment and training and child support enforcement systems intersect.  They are as follows:

1.     Increased numbers of NCPs placed into unsubsidized jobs and retained in the labor market for at least 6 months, and

2.     Increased collections and payment of child support as a result of gainfully and legally employed NCPs.

Both of these measures are also crucial components of strengthening families and improving family self-sufficiency.  These results can be measured easily by the states, tribes, or communities that choose to participate in the ventures outlined by this agreement.  Execution of the agreement will not require new, complicated, burdensome or expensive information systems in order to measure the success of cooperative ventures carried out under the partnership.

LENGTH OF THE AGREEMENT

The particular ventures undertaken as a result of this agreement will be accomplished within 18 months of signature.


COOPERATIVE VENTURES TO BE UNDERTAKEN

The agencies and offices listed above will undertake the following cooperative ventures under this agreement:

�        INCREASE THE NUMBER OF STATES, TRIBES OR COMMUNITIES UNDERTAKING CHILD SUPPORT/WORKFORCE INVESTMENT SYSTEM PARTNERSHIPS

Venture:  OCSE and ETA will identify a number of states, tribes, or communities that have undertaken distinctive, successful partnerships that involve the placement of NCPs into unsubsidized employment in order to improve child support collections.  Where such a partnership exists, benefits attributable to this close coordination will be identified and documented (e.g., higher child support collections, increased numbers of NCPs placed and retained in unsubsidized jobs, patterns of wage gain achieved by those participants, satisfied employers willing to provide testimonials, economically self-sufficient NCPs making regular support payments, etc.).  OCSE and ETA will catalog these benefits and provide education and outreach to their respective national, regional, and field systems through existing channels of communication including conferences, training, publications, guidance, the Internet, mass mailings, listservs and other means.  The agencies will target their efforts toward the implementation of OCSE/Workforce Investment System (WIS) partnerships in at least three additional major states, tribes, or communities. 

Measure of Success:  Within 18 months from the execution of this interagency agreement, three more states, tribes, or communities, will have implemented CSE/WIS working partnerships and begin to demonstrate the same benefits as those achieved by those states, tribes, or communities that already have such a working relationship in place.


�        LINK THE JUDICIAL, CHILD SUPPORT, AND WORKFORCE INVESTMENT SYSTEMS TOGETHER THROUGH EXPORT OF THE "BENCH CARD" INITIATIVE

Venture:   OCSE and ETA will expand the "Bench Card Pilot Initiative" by exporting it in customizable fashion to three additional states, tribes, or communities.  The goal of the Bench Card is to assist unemployed or underemployed NCPs in meeting their child support obligations.  Judges or hearing officers refer unemployed or underemployed NCPs to the workforce investment agencies and WtW programs, in order to receive employment-related training, placement, retention services and pre and post-employment support.  Among the special features of the project are:  (1) a bench card that provides judges and hearing officers with a quick summary of the services available to NCPs through the WIS and/or WtW, including basic eligibility, contact, and referral information, and (2) the provision of a toll-free number that NCPs, judges, or others can use to get their questions about the program answered.  ETA and OCSE will assist the implementation of similar programs in three additional states, tribes, or communities by offering a range of specific types of support to include:

-         An informational scan for states, tribes, or communities, expressing initial interest;

-         A readiness checklist for states, tribes, or communities to use in self-assessing the extent to which they are prepared to begin implementing the project;

-         Supporting tools, such as the bench card, for states, tribes, or communities to customize;

-         A limited allotment of technical assistance consultant days and a menu of help available for early implementing states, tribes, or communities to use as needed in support of their efforts;

-         A self-service technical assistance website offering templates for initiative tools, as well as information on the variety of models in use, promising practices, etc;

-         Individualized web-based technical assistance in the form of ongoing questions and answers and participant forums; and


-         A face-to-face forum for participating and prospective state/tribe/community representatives to share their experiences and to learn from one another, with resulting technical assistance products being offered via the Internet.

Measures of Success: Within 18 months, an additional three leadership states, tribes, or communities will undertake the initiative, each demonstrating after one year of operation, increased numbers of NCPs placed and retained in unsubsidized jobs, and increased child support collections from these NCPs.

�        TRAIN STATE, TRIBAL, AND LOCAL MANAGERS FROM CHILD SUPPORT, TANF, AND THE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT SYSTEM TO MORE EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY WORK TOGETHER

Venture:   The OCSE, ETA, and the DHHS/ACF Office of Family Assistance will market and provide "train-the-trainer" sessions for a jointly developed curriculum. The audiences will be mixed groups of local office and regional managers from the child support, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and workforce investment systems who share the same geography and clientele.  The regional managers are focused on performance improvement and the local office managers have to manage the line staff, as well as delivering on performance.  They must understand and promote the advantages of collaboration for improving both their own goals and the outcomes for the client

families to the line staff.

The training will focus on improving customer service to low-income families and NCPs and on better cross-program coordination through the development of a clearer understanding, on the part of workers, of the importance of their efforts to the successful work of their counterparts.   

Measures of Success:  Within 18 months, OCSE and ETA will arrange and produce one training session in at least 5 regions on a first-come, first-served basis.  OCSE and ETA will also entertain requests from individual states, tribes or localities.  States, tribes, and communities adopting more collaborative approaches should see improvements in collections and customer service and satisfaction.

This agreement may be modified by mutual consent of the parties or canceled by 30 days advance written notice by either party.


EFFECT OF AGREEMENT

This memorandum of understanding is an internal Government agreement and is not intended to confer any right upon any private person or organization.

This agreement does not itself authorize the expenditure or reimbursement of any funds, other than by the express terms of this memorandum of understanding.  Nothing in this memorandum of understanding shall obligate the OCSE or ETA to expend appropriations or enter into any contract or other obligations, other than by the express terms of this memorandum of understanding.

Nothing in this memorandum of understanding shall be interpreted as limiting, superseding, or otherwise affecting either agency's normal operations or decisions in carrying out its statutory or regulatory duties.  This memorandum of understanding does not limit or restrict the OCSE or ETA from participating in similar activities or arrangement with other entitles.

__________/s/________________           ____________/s/________________                                

Emily Stover DeRocco                         Sherri Z. Heller, Ed. D.

Assistant Secretary,                           Commissioner,

Employment and Training                   Office of Child Support

    Administration                                Enforcement

Date ____________________             Date _____________________


Attachment 2

Better Outcomes Through Collaboration:  An Interactive Seminar for Managers of Child Support, TANF, and Workforce Investment

The Administration for Children and Families' Offices of Child Support Enforcement and Family Assistance, and the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, partnered to create a seminar curriculum on improving program outcomes through interagency collaboration. The seminar, designed for office and/or regional managers from child support, TANF, and workforce investment, demonstrates the advantages of working together to achieve program goals to help client families.

Why create an interactive seminar for three agencies? Child support, TANF, and workforce investment share goals and clients. There are numerous benefits to agencies and families if the systems collaborate. Benefits to agencies include improved performance, increased funding, and savings in resources and worker time. Benefits to clients include quick processing of cases, faster access to services, increased money to children, reduction in poverty, more father involvement, fewer months on TANF, and increased self-sufficiency. Despite the common goals, there is evidence that collaboration efforts could be improved. One study found that information collected by TANF staff for child support sometimes does not contain the necessary detail, in part because TANF staff often cannot verify information gathered from applicants at intake (e.g., non-custodial parent addresses) because they lack access to databases. Child support agencies generally do not have systematic oversight of the process to transfer collections to TANF leavers. Automated interfaces between TANF and child support are often problematic. Another report focused on child support and workforce investment and found that many non-custodial parents are in need of job services. Although child support agencies frequently refer these parents to jobs programs, arrangements are often informal and staff have limited knowledge of the programs. 

Target audience. The seminar is designed for office and/or regional managers from child support, TANF, and workforce investment from the same geographical area of a state. The seminar size is 21 participants (7 from each program). 

Seminar format. The seminar is 10 hours in length, plus breaks. It is not lecture style. Rather, it is interactive, requires active participant engagement, and builds on participants' knowledge and experience to identify potential areas of increased collaboration and to create an action plan for change. The seminar is divided into five modules:


.       Module 1 provides context for the seminar. A power point presentation describes the systems involved and their clients and services, provides an overview of the benefits of collaboration, and presents evidence that collaboration could be improved. It also describes the remainder of the seminar.

.       Module 2 begins the exploration of individual agencies and emphasizes how performance in one agency can affect the others.

.       Module 3 describes agency processes in detail, including goals, clients, areas where agencies intersect, current areas of collaboration, and barriers to collaboration. 

.       Module 4 provides tools and exercises to help program managers visualize what an ideal collaboration would look like, including desired outcomes.

.       Module 5 helps participants develop an action plan.

For more information, contact Dail Moore (OCSE) at 202-401-3438 or dmoore@acf.hhs.gov

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