Highlights From the 2019 NCSEA Policy Forum
“Lifting Families Out of Poverty” was the theme for the 2019 edition of the National Child Support Enforcement Association’s (NCSEA) Policy Forum.
Although many think of the child support program as a means to collect money and secure health insurance, those who provide services in the program view it from a much broader perspective. This year’s NCSEA President Craig Burshem described the conference as a means to encourage practitioners “to use our collective experience and knowledge to focus on developing policies that can help give children and their families a brighter future.” Viewed this way, it is apparent that providing child support services means more than collecting money.
The conference was packed with sessions that carried out that theme, and Conduent was proud to be there as the Platinum Corporate Sponsor. Five members of our team participated in the sessions and learned how we can support states, counties, tribes, and other countries in working to lift families out of poverty.
Here are a few things we learned:
- Get together. To make a difference, government agencies should promote collaboration among human services practitioners. Working in silos is not the way to serve families needing assistance. Assistant Secretary Lynn A. Johnson of the HHS Administration for Children and Families shared first hand experiences from earlier years when she worked “in the trenches” to help parents overcome barriers and move from poverty to self-sufficiency. Lack of communication between programs created barriers. She is now using that knowledge to work with counterparts in other federal programs to break down barriers to collaboration.
- Do mandatory requirements hurt or help? Twenty-three states have requirements that parents who receive child care or SNAP benefits must cooperate with the child support program in order to receive assistance. A plenary session explored the potential value of mandatory requirements as opposed to potential negative results. Both pros and cons were thoughtfully discussed, but this is only the beginning of the conversation. We can expect to hear more about this in the future.
- Working 9 to 5? Some parents without jobs need help entering the job market. The closing session explored options for helping, including making connections to workforce commissions, fatherhood programs, job training programs, and employers. One reality we learned was that preparing for and obtaining a good job may be the hardest job! Great ideas were presented for attendees to take back home.
There were more great sessions related to the theme. The NCSEA Policy Forum lived up to its name as policy issues were explained and ideas were exchanged. The forum offered a solid beginning to a year of building on new ideas to shape the future of child support. The Conduent team looks forward to more opportunities to work with child support programs in finding ways to lift families out of poverty!