California’s Most Destructive Wildfire Hits Butte County DCSS—Child Support Program Responds

By: Dana Simas, CA DCSS

Shortly after news broke about the deadly Camp Fire that made its rampage through Paradise, Magalia, and Concow in Butte County, California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS) executives and local child support agency (LCSA) directors were notified that 11 Butte County Department of Child Support Services (Butte County DCSS) staff and one Glenn County Department of Child Support Services staff had been evacuated, including seven Butte County DCSS staff who lost their homes. There was a heavy, somber feeling as everyone took in the news, but hope quickly came as everyone rallied and coordinated to do what they could to support our Child Support family.

Janet Nottley, Director of Napa County Department of Child Support Services (Napa County DCSS), Jennifer Traumann, Director of Sonoma County Department of Child Support Services, and Terri Morelock, Director of Shasta County Department of Child Support Services (Shasta County DCSS) took immediate action to help support Butte County DCSS staff.

Nottley, Traumann, and Morelock know first-hand what it takes to lead an LCSA and its staff through a tragedy like this, having just experienced the multiple fires that ripped through Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties last year, including the Tubbs fire which was the most destructive wildfire in California’s history until the Camp Fire. They knew what the staff needed most was cash and gift cards so that the families could get what they needed, when they needed it. In addition to helping meet the practical needs of the displaced staff, Nottley, Traumann, and Morelock helped guide Butte County DCSS Director Sean Farrell and his team to meet the programmatic needs of their Child Support Program participants. As many of the Child Support Program enforcement and payment actions are automated, it was important to identify if there were paper checks still being mailed to parents/guardians that no longer had physical homes, or payment/enforcement actions scheduled against parents who may have lost their place of employment.

“The Camp Fire has been a very dynamic and catastrophic event for our community,” Farrell said. “My staff and I are very thankful for all of the donations, help, and support that we continue to receive from CA DCSS and other LCSA’s. Thank you!”

All CA DCSS staff received the news that some Butte County DCSS staff had lost their homes. In just two days CA DCSS staff donated more than $1,125 in gift cards and $500 in cash. CA DCSS Regional Administrator Lesley Bell worked closely with LCSA directors in the area to not only coordinate Child Support Program business and logistics, but also with delivering the donations.

CA DCSS Information Officer II, Nicole Darracq, provided a huge showing of support as she offered her family’s vacant vacation home in Berry Creek, which is now housing a Butte County DCSS family and their pets. Darracq also coordinated with a family who owns a nearby vacation home, which has been made available to evacuated Butte County DCSS employees.

LCSAs have rallied together and shown tremendous support to their Child Support family; a few examples include, Shasta County DCSS bought and donated towels, blankets, pillows, jackets and other items and also gave out eight gift bags with Kohl’s and Target gift cards, and $100 cash for each of the families who lost their homes. San Joaquin County Department of Child Support Services sent 30 backpacks, warm clothing, and food, and Butte County DCSS staff stepped up to help their own coworkers. Napa County DCSS staff, as well as Jeff and Sharon Stover also gave generous donations.

To help Butte County DCSS continue to operate their Child Support Program, the Child Support Services Departments of Solano, Sonoma, Madera, Plumas, and Tehama have stepped up to assist the financial tasks related to Butte County’s child support cases.

The efforts to assess just how destructive this wildfire was will continue for the foreseeable future as an entire community takes its first steps toward recovery. The needs of the families will continue even after this tragedy is no longer the top-story news, but the Child Support family will always be here to help. As Napa County DCSS Director Nottley said, “one of the best parts about being part of the (child support) community is we take care of our own.”

If you’d like to donate gift cards to help support Butte County DCSS staff, they can be sent directly to:

Butte County DCSS
78 Table Mountain Blvd
Oroville, CA 94588

Please mark the package personal and attention to Kelly Burnett.

A bank account has also been set up that will equally distribute cash donations to each of the displaced families. You may donate to the “2018 Camp Fire Fund for Child Support Services Current and Retired Employees” account online at: http://bit.ly/2FK5XiO, or you may send checks to the following address:

North Valley Community Foundation
CSS Camp Fire Fund
240 Main Street, Suite 260
Chico, CA 95928

Your donations will continue to be needed as the families work to get back on their feet.