By: Dana Simas, Communications Director CA DCSS
During the week of April 29-May 2nd, more than 1,000 (1,002 to be exact) child support professionals gathered in Garden Grove, California for the annual Child Support Director’s Association (CSDA) annual training conference. Over three days of workshops and plenaries, attendees were treated with top-notch training from experts in the Child Support Program as well as information-sharing among their peers on best practices and upcoming changes within the program.
The annual conference, a definite highlight for many, was packed to the brim full of educational opportunities with lots of room for networking and sharing experiences with child support staff many work with consistently but have never met in person. Attendees were treated with an exciting roll call on the opening day of the conference where all counties and the state child support departments had the opportunity to show off their spirit.
On the second day of the conference, CSDA President and Director of Alameda County Department of Child Support Services Phyllis Nance held a question and answer session titled “Transforming the Child Support Program” with Michael Hayes, Senior Programs Manager at the Office of Child Support Enforcement, David Kilgore, Director of California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS), and Ignacio Guerrero, Director of Santa Clara County Department of Child Support Services. The discussion surrounded what the Child Support Program needs to do to stay relevant in the lives of people who need child support services. As caseloads continue to decline, what changes are on the horizon—or are even just visions—for the program and what a 21st century Child Support Program looks like for participants. Does the program seek to offer opt-in/opt-out enforcement services? Does the program continue accepting cash as the only form of child support payment? The discussion was lively and optimistic that all levels of the Child Support Program are ready for ways to improve the effectiveness and use of child support services.
On the final night of the conference, CSDA held its annual awards ceremony to recognize the top Child Support Program staff across the state for their enormous contributions to projects and improvements within the program. Two CA DCSS received top awards for their innovativeness, persistence, and dedication to increasing collaboration with the local child support agencies (LCSAs).
The first award given was the William R. Knudsen award given to an individual in the child support community to recognize the achievements and accomplishments made toward positive advancement of the Child Support Program. CSDA awarded this recognition to CA DCSS Chief Financial Officer Nan Chen for his collaboration with the LCSAs to construct various budgeting tools and methodologies. He was recognized as having “unimaginable patience and intelligence with an unparalleled level of enthusiasm, professionalism, creativity, and can-do attitude.” Congratulations Nan!
The second award presented was the Truly B. Knox award given to recognize exceptional achievements, extended leadership, and career service to the Child Support Program. This year’s award was presented to CA DCSS Director David Kilgore for his years of maintaining a highly-creative approach to policy work and problem-solving. For the first time in California’s child support history, the Governor’s proposed budget included an additional $56.5 million for LCSAs, based in large part to the efforts of David—first as an LCSA director and member of the CSDA Board, and also after he assumed the CA DCSS Director position. Congratulations to our CA DCSS leader!
Another successful annual training conference in the books with a record 70+ attendees from CA DCSS! Until next year!