Interstate cases are complex because they involve different jurisdictions’ laws, procedures, agencies, and courts.
Families with interstate support cases usually receive less support than those where both parents reside in the same jurisdiction.
In 2019, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) awarded Intergovernmental Case Processing Innovation Demonstration grants to seven child support agencies. These grants provided funding to test innovations that would increase payments on intergovernmental cases and improve case processing procedures for parents. Because of our deep subject matter expertise, three of the grant recipients contracted with Public Knowledge® for assistance in implementing the grant.
Lessons Learned from the Intergovernmental Grants
For each grant, PK interviewed intergovernmental staff to prepare an “As Is” assessment that included recommended improvements for attaining project goals. We then facilitated an envisioning session that resulted in prioritized project initiatives. After implementing the initiatives, PK evaluated the success of the initiatives in meeting project goals. Some of the lessons learned from the three intergovernmental improvement grants include:
|Designating international or interstate subject matter experts in a county or region can improve case processing. It also allows the agency to support these specialized individuals with additional, focused training and desk aids.
|States often need to comprehensively review and update intergovernmental case processing information in their policies and procedures manuals. Intergovernmental child support has changed significantly in the last 15 years. As agencies periodically add information to reflect new laws, tools, or policy guidance, the manuals have gaps or inconsistent information over time.
|Suppose agencies can quantify case processing activities in terms of a metric (for example, how long it takes to prepare an outgoing establishment referral). In that case, they will have additional objective data about the impact of project interventions on case processing.
|Staff learn best when they receive information in a variety of formats and can see the immediate application of the information. Some people learn from numbered instructions and checklists, others like to read narrative information, and others retain information best if it is visually presented in flowcharts.
|Communication is key to effective intergovernmental case processing. Projects explored bilateral meetings with top intergovernmental partners, shared access to other jurisdictions’ child support portals, encrypted e-mail communication, and the development of jurisdiction-specific contact lists.
|Development of informational videos for parents on how to complete intergovernmental forms and what to expect from an intergovernmental referral, as well as website FAQs on intergovernmental child support, resulting in improved engagement with parents as measured by reduced time for parents to return appropriately completed forms and increased traffic to the intergovernmental information as compared to the agency’s website overall.
Making an Impact Internationally
Read our case study for more information on one of the intergovernmental grants.