Child Support Enforcement helps ensure safety, success

Jun. 08, 2013 @ 05:50 PM

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One aspect of our work that is often unnoticed is the role of Child Support Enforcement.

The work of a local department of social services is multidimensional and as an agency the Durham County Department of Social Services is committed to ensuring that children receive the support that they need to live happy, healthy and productive lives.  Ensuring this financial support for young people is the driving force behind the excellent work of our Child Support Enforcement team. 

Child Support Enforcement (CSE) helps children and families by ensuring that each parent provides financial support to their children.  This task is met by locating non-custodial parents; establishing paternity, support and medical obligations; enforcing existing child support orders; collecting and distributing child support payments; and assisting non-custodial parents in becoming self-sufficient. Services are available to any parent or legal guardian responsible for a child, regardless of income.

Whether we are establishing paternity or collecting child support payments, our eyes are always on the prize: ensuring the safety and success of children.  By doing hospital-based paternity tests, we enable newborns to have a legal and biological connection to their father.  This facilitates the child’s future access to medical information and the ability to know genetic background information which may be helpful for health care decisions.  In addition, establishing paternity can lay the groundwork to establish relationships between parents and children that can build a bond between them.

Having consistent child support payments gives children receiving the support the opportunity to lead self-sufficient lives by having access to resources that might otherwise be out of reach.  When we work with noncustodial parents, we encourage them to be there for their children, both financially and emotionally.  We let them know that their money helps ensure that their children have more opportunities in life.  Our CSE staff members regularly hear from custodial parents that the money we collect allows their children to take field trips, attend summer camps, get tutoring  or get the school supplies and other things that they need. 

We want to help children be able to experience the love and support from all parents willing and able to provide it.  If non-custodial parents are having problems seeing their children, we refer them to the Family Court Child Access and Visitation Program to resolve issues of custody and/or visitation. 

Even though unemployment numbers were high in the last fiscal year, we exceeded our goal for total collections.  The collection amount for FY 2011-2012 of $17.3 million exceeded the goal of $16.6 million set by the state.  These monies go directly into the homes of children and help them.  Our CSE staff members work diligently to maintain their individual collection goals and have achieved great success in attaining top rates.  Durham dominated the region’s “Top Twenty” collections list for all 12 months of the fiscal year 2011-2012 and continues to do so this year.

Durham Department of Social Services’ Child Support Enforcement unit will continue to use all the resources and tools available to ensure success. Our children’s futures are too important to do anything less.

If you have questions regarding Child Support Enforcement services please do not hesitate to contact the Durham County Department of Social Services by calling 919-560-8038.

Michael Becketts is the director for the Durham County Department of Social Services.