Its name change better reflects the services it provides to assist families.
The Office of Child Support Enforcement has changed its name to Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) to better reflect the services the office provides to assist families, effective June 2023. The change signifies the agency’s commitment to serve and support the whole family by promoting family self-sufficiency and offering services that further that goal.
The Evolution of the Child Support Program
Since its start in 1975, the child support program has changed immensely. It began as a cost recovery tool for state public assistance costs and has evolved to focus on providing support to families with children. This evolution has been guided by federal legislation and the changing needs of families. The program recognizes that the family structure has changed, and it must serve the entire family to improve the financial and emotional support of children.
The Role of OCSS
OCSS is the federal agency that oversees the national child support program. OCSS does not manage individual cases nor have direct access to case information. The agency partners with federal, state, tribal, and local governments and others to promote parental responsibility so that children receive financial and emotional support from both parents even when they live in separate households. In addition to services funded directly by the child support program, the office also supports states and tribes by funding services like employment programs, fatherhood initiatives, demonstration grants, reentry partnerships, and other family-centered efforts to promote and encourage financial and emotional support to children and families.
What the Name Change Signifies
OCSS is hopeful that the name change will encourage both parents to participate in the program at the state and local levels. The name change demonstrates the program is adopting a more inclusive, family-centered, and service-oriented model. Many state child support programs have already removed enforcement from their name and have been offering employment assistance and other family-centered services to their constituents.
This name change emphasizes the national child support program’s evolution, innovation, modernization, and recognition of the needs of today’s families. Enforcement is a word evoking emotion related to policing, punishment, incarceration, stigma, and shame. While OCSS and state child support agencies will continue to offer enforcement remedies and encourage parental responsibility so children receive reliable financial support from both parents, the name change reflects the commitment to assist parents in every way possible to provide the best they can for their children.
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