California’s Child Support Program Creating New Opportunities to Help Parents Paying Child Support Find and Retain Employment

By: Danielle Cenedella, CA DCSS

In June 2018, the California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS) partnered with the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) with the goal of helping parents who owe past-due child support but are unemployed or underemployed, find and retain jobs.

The CWDB’s State Plan, which is a policy blueprint for local workforce development boards (LWDB), has three policy objectives; fostering demand-driven skills attainment, enabling upward mobility for all Californians (including barriers to employment), and aligning, coordinating, and integrating programs and services.

The CWDB’s State Plan is required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law in 2014. WIOA is a federal program under the Department of Labor which provides state and local areas flexibility to better address the employment and skills needs of current employees, jobseekers, and employers.

To make the partnership a success, CA DCSS’ Employer Services Unit team met frequently with the CWDB throughout December 2018 to lay out both agencies’ expectations, understand how the LCSAs should collaborate with LWDBs, and finally collect all the data that is needed to help assist each LCSA and LWDB meet their identified benchmarks.

Some LCSAs already had partnerships with their LWDB. These provided a great example for how the referral system may work, what barriers exist when trying to assist parents responsible for making child support payments but are having financial hardships due to lack of work, and what data would be helpful to strengthen the partnership at the local level.

Solano County Department of Child Support Services (Solano County DCSS) has seen great success with this collaborative partnership with their LWDB. A previously-incarcerated parent wanted to support his family but had a suspended license and was having trouble finding a job. After a referral to the LWDB and a negotiated payment to his child support case, Solano County DCSS released his license to continue job training.

Solano County DCSS Senior Child Support Specialist Tara Knobbe said, “This partnership has built trust with the parents we serve. This service we are providing shows that we mean what we say about trying to actually help the parents find gainful employment.”

Beginning in July 2018 through early February 2019, most LCSAs began formally working on developing their local partnership framework with their LWDB. It’s expected that by September 2019, all the LWDBs plans will be approved and implemented into the CWDB State Plan.

As time goes on, the partnership will continue to improve and grow, but it is already clear that when unemployed participants are given resources to help obtain gainful employment, and a career path that allows them to reengage with the Child Support Program and take care of their financial responsibilities, they are empowered to participate more fully in the lives of their children.