Special Guest from Down Under Visits CA DCSS

By: Kristy Hartmann, CA DCSS

On Friday, August 9th, the California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS) had an exciting visit from a special guest, Tara Pamula, the National Manager of the Child Support Smart Centers and Tailored Services Divisions of Australia. The Executive team welcomed Ms. Pamula to the CA DCSS offices after a stop visiting Dr. Steven Golightly and his team in Los Angeles – she was on her way to the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) conference in Minneapolis.

Many important topics were discussed during the meeting, such as domestic Automated Clearing House (ACH) processes, International ACH Transactions (IAT), and child support enforcement actions. Ms. Pamula learned more about the Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP), a debt reduction program that is available to eligible parents with past due child support payments, and various enforcement measures like Income Withholding Orders (IWOs), liens on property and bank accounts, passport denial, driver’s license suspension, and professional license suspensions. For her part, Ms. Pamula shared the different enforcement actions taken in Australia and another interesting fact– that case workers do not have face-to-face contact with customers or parents but accomplish all their work over the phone. In Australia, case workers make many of the decisions in the child support payment process that in America must be made by the courts, so they play a big role in empowering parents.

Michelle Meier, Branch Chief of The Office of Intergovernmental Services, talked about the goals that needed to be met to send and receive payments electronically between California and Australia. “We are very excited to continue our work with Australia’s Central Authority and hope to begin exchanging electronic child support payments in the very near future,” she said.

There are currently 178 shared cases between California and Australia. The meeting with Ms. Pamula was not only fascinating, but strengthened the partnership between CA DCSS and Australia, and both parties look forward to progressing on the IAT processes.

Director of CA DCSS David Kilgore commented, “While functionally, we do things fairly differently, the same goal and overall approach is the same, regardless of whether you are in California or Australia. Our message and intent is singular and purposeful. We can learn a lot from the way other jurisdictions approach child support. That being said, California continues to be a leader in innovative approaches to the business of child support.”

Thanks to Ms. Pamula for expanding our understanding of how our work fits into their program and taking the time to share her experiences to our benefit.